You have to go back to Leonard Hamilton's first year in Tallahassee to find a Seminole team which began play at 0-4. To keep from repeating that, the Noles had to go on the road in the ACC and find a way to win.
After several slow starts in recent games, we all wondered if Coach Hamilton would switch things up in the starting lineup. But he stayed with the same group which has started every game since late November, and it paid off.
FSU scored on their first three possessions of the game, with two of those coming off of offensive rebounds. That theme of the Noles getting to the glass would hold true all night, as Florida State rebounded 40% of their own misses.
The game stayed close as each team traded blows throughout the first half, and the Noles led by just one with five minutes to play.
That's when the FSU defense turned it up a notch, forcing four turnovers down the stretch and finishing the half on a 11-2 run.
Fears of a slow start in the 2nd half quickly vanished when Dwayne Bacon knocked down a corner three a minute into the half. But the Wolfpack wouldn't go away, and the reason was fouls.
NCSU picked up several early fouls, and were in the bonus with just under 14 minutes to go. Coach Hamilton began mixing in a zone defense to help keep players from fouling, and it paid off as the Wolfpack went nearly eight minutes without a trip to the line.
At that point Devon Bookert knocked down his fourth three of the night, and FSU was up 14 with six minutes to play.
Credit the Wolfpack for not folding, however. They did what they do best - attack the offensive glass and get putbacks or get to the line. They would attempt 10 FTs over the next three minutes. Then freshman Maverick Rowan knocked down back-to-back 3s.
Suddenly, that big lead was just three with 37 seconds left.
But FSU didn't panic. After a timeout they ran a nice inbounds play to XRM who was fouled after the defense caught up to him. He knocked down both FTs and game was basically over.
Malik Beasley made some late FTs, Maverick Rowan made another jumper, and FSU won 85-78.
Beasley led the Noles with 22 points and nine rebounds, and had a number of electric dunks. Devon Bookert made all four of his 3s on his way to 18 points. Dwayne Bacon had 15 points. Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 11 points and seven assists. Terance Mann had seven points and nine rebounds.
The Noles are now 11-5, 1-3, and the road win should help the young team's confidence.
In the preseason, we predicted that FSU would start the year 2-4 in the ACC, before the schedule lightens up a bit. For that to happen FSU will have to beat Virginia at home on Sunday, or they'll need to go on the road and beat Louisville.
Sunday's game tips at 6:30 from the Tuck, and will be broadcast on ESPNU.