TALLAHASSEE — Florida State could do little right offensively against Georgia Tech, but then scoring hasn't been its strong point all season.
The Seminoles have relied on defense and determination.
And they have had to do it with just one legitimate scorer (senior guard Toney Douglas). Thursday was no different. FSU got after it defensively and hit 16 of its final 18 free throws to pull out a 62-58 win at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
"We are not a great offensive team," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "But the one thing they have bought into is they have to play hard and they have to defend."
The Seminoles (17-5, 4-3 ACC), who rebounded from a last-second loss to North Carolina on Jan. 28, held the Yellow Jackets to one of their poorest offensive nights of the season. They scored 14 points below their average, scoring only fewer in losses to Southern Cal (76-57) and Duke (70-56).
Still, Tech led 45-42 with 7:33 left.
"I thought we did a good enough job to have a bigger lead, which would have taken a lot of heat off of us," said coach Paul Hewitt, whose Yellow Jackets (10-11, 1-7) failed to build on Saturday's win against Wake Forest.
"But we didn't capitalize offensively."
Of course, the Seminoles had something to do with that. They turned up their defense.
"I told my teammates, 'Let's guard. Let's rebound, and once we do that, everything will be fine,' " said Douglas, who finished with a game-high 21 points and matched his career high with six steals.
"We really believe in our defense," added center Solomon Alabi. "It's all about defense that can win a game for us."
As the Seminoles got more aggressive on that end of the floor, the Yellow Jackets seemingly grew more frustrated. Hewitt said his players too often came back to the bench complaining about foul calls.
"That's how children play," he said. "We played like children in the second half."
After Derwin Kitchen drew a foul and made both free throws, Alabi followed with two free throws to give the Seminoles a 46-45 lead with 5:29 left. Iman Shumpert tied it with a free throw, but Douglas hit a tough jumper to give FSU the lead for good in a game it considered almost a must-win as it tries to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
"We were not shooting the ball very well. There's no doubt about that, and we had to have stops," Hamilton said. "But I thought our guys came out in the second half and played with a lot of energy."
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.