After a 12-1 start versus mostly overmatched foes, the worry heading into ACC play was that the Seminoles’ recipe for the season wouldn’t work against equally - or more - talented teams. But with one game in the books, everything seems fine. Just when it looked like the game was going down to the buzzer, the fresh legs of the ‘Noles took over and with 8:30 to play FSU turned a five point deficit into a 10 point lead in just over three minutes. They maintained control down the stretch and walked away with an 88-72 win.
Florida State (13-1, 1-0) has now won nine straight games.
Wake Forest came into Tallahassee with something the ‘Noles better get used to: a borderline elite offense. There are 15 ACC teams, and 11 have offenses ranked among the top 40 in the nation (out of 351 teams). Wake’s specialty is great shooting, and they showed it early. The Deacons seemingly couldn’t miss in the early minutes, and seized a 16-8 lead.
The ‘Noles would battle back, and Wake would bury more shots. Some of this was simply great shooting where you have to tip your cap, and some was FSU getting lost on rotations following a defensive gamble. This continued for the rest of the half, and FSU went into the break down 40-39.
In the second, FSU seemed way better prepared for what Wake Forest was trying to do. They didn’t help as much on the perimeter. They pinched driving lanes and guarded against the kick.
Most of the half was the two teams trading blows, and trading leads. The score was tied seven times in the first ten minutes. Then Mitchell Wilbekin gave Wake a five point lead with back to back 3s, and the air was in danger of leaking out of the building.
And that’s when FSU poured it on.
The run was beautiful. Danny Manning finally called a timeout after it was 15-0, and Dwayne Bacon immediately nailed another jumper when play resumed.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who became the 45th player in school history to score 1,000 points, scored 23 to go along with seven rebounds. He also hounded the Wake Forest ball handlers down the stretch, forcing numerous turnovers and run-outs. Dwayne Bacon also scored 23, making 7-10 2s and 6-7 FTs. CJ Walker was a spark in his first game back, making 3-6 3s on his way to 13 points. And Jonathan Isaac struggled a bit on his way to 12 points, but grabbed a game high nine rebounds.
Now, with one conference game in the books and 17 to go, the ‘Noles travel to face No. 12 Virginia on Saturday.