RALEIGH, N.C. — Derwin Kitchen helped Florida State to a solid regular-season finish despite playing without its top scorer and rebounder for the past month.
Now the Seminoles head into the ACC tournament with a high seed and hopes that Chris Singleton could soon return from a broken right foot.
Kitchen had 17 points and matched a career high with 13 rebounds to help FSU beat North Carolina State 72-62 on Sunday night in the final game of the ACC schedule.
Bernard James added 14 points for the Seminoles (21-9, 11-5), who have won three of five with Singleton out. FSU won 11 ACC games in a season for the third time and the first since winning 12 in 1993.
"It's not any time to start taking any bows," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We feel like this particular team has a lot more room for improvement. We're still basically an inexperienced team for the most part. … I'm hoping they'll keep working and we'll continue to keep improving."
The Seminoles were already locked into the No. 3 seed for this week's tournament in Greensboro, so there wasn't a lot at stake in this game. FSU led for the first 30 minutes, scoring the first seven and leading by 13 in the first half before taking a 34-25 halftime lead.
Then, after the Wolfpack (15-15, 5-11) made a push to take a one-point lead with about eight minutes left, Kitchen sank two baskets to put the Seminoles ahead for good.
"I feel like we have done pretty good without our best player," Kitchen said. "(If Singleton returns), I hope he can bring what he (brought) all year long. Hopefully he can pick up where he left off. If not, we're not focusing on that too much. We're focusing on what we have right now."
Hamilton said he didn't know if Singleton would be ready for the ACC tournament, though he said the 6-foot-9 junior hasn't had any setbacks while doing noncontact work since he was hurt Feb. 12 against Virginia. He said Singleton wouldn't return unless he's "completely healed."
"We're being extremely careful," Hamilton said, "but it looks like it's getting a lot closer than I thought it would be at this stage."
As for N.C. State, the question was whether this was the final home game for fifth-year coach Sidney Lowe. Picked to finish fourth in the ACC, the Wolfpack closed with four losses in five games to fall to the No. 10 seed.
Lowe entered with an 86-76 overall record and 25-54 in ACC play. Worse, he hasn't made the NCAA Tournament after inheriting a program coming off five straight NCAA trips.
Lowe said he didn't feel drained by uncertainty.
"No, because the focus is not me," he said. "My focus is my kids. That's what I have to do. If I get drained and I'm worn down, then how can I expect them to be ready? So it's just like I tell each of our players: 'It's not about you. It's about your teammate.' Well, that's the same thing for me."