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FSU's at home on the road

The Florida State men's basketball team will try to do something no team has done this season _ win at North Carolina State.

And despite the Seminoles sub-.500 mark and N.C. State's 13-0 record at the new Entertainment and Sports Arena, they have a chance. The Seminoles have played their best ball on the road, especially in the ACC.

Consider: The Seminoles won at Wake Forest and North Carolina and narrowly lost at Georgia Tech (65-62) and Virginia (87-81), which is perhaps the surprise of the league (the Cavs took Duke to overtime at home). Earlier, the Seminoles nearly upset then No. 7-ranked Auburn (55-54).

Hmm.

"We've played some very competitive games when we've been on the road and haven't always been able to keep the same pace at home," coach Steve Robinson said. "I don't know the answer to that one. Our guys have really tried to focus their energy and try to play well wherever we go. Everybody wants to make sure they can dominate at home and try to fight and hang around and win some of them on the road."

FSU's got half of that down.

Apparently, so too does star guard Ron Hale.

In ACC play, the former Largo High standout has been at his best away from the Tallahassee-Leon Civic Center. Okay. Okay. A 37-point outburst at Wake Forest and a dismal two-point performance at home against Duke skews his scoring average, but take a gander at his shooting percentage in FSU's other five league games: He's hit 22 of 41 shots (53.7 percent) on the road compared to 11 of 27 (40.7 percent) at home.

Hmm.

ROUNDING INTO SHAPE: Freshman 6-10 center Nigel Dixon is still a big project, but his weight is down to about 385 from a high of 425 at the beginning of the school year. And he's been seeing more than a two-minute hockey-like shift each half. He played nine minutes against Maryland last weekend.

"I've been pleased with the progress Nigel's been making," Robinson said. "We've given him more and more opportunities to get out there on the floor and he's really responded well.

" Nigel's in the best shape he's probably ever been in as far as playing basketball. He has a very large frame, and trying to move that frame around at the pace that we go takes time. Nigel is not a guy we projected to come in and instantly play 40 minutes. He's got to work toward that. But it's been encouraging."

COMING BACK: The women's basketball team expects a boost Sunday against N.C. State. Freshman starting center Lauren Bradley, who broke the fourth metatarsal in her right foot against the Wolfpack on Jan. 6, could be ready for at least limited action.

"We'll be re-evaluating her on Friday and as soon as the doctors say we can use her, we're going to use her," coach Sue Semrau said excitedly.

Bradley, Florida's Class 6A player of the year in 1999 at Lake Mary, showed uncommon savvy and poise for a freshman on defense and should provide another low-post threat on offense, relieving pressure from forward Latavia Coleman. Bradley was averaging 8.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

"In a way, it's been disappointing (to be out a month); I thought I was playing well and picking up the system well," Bradley said. "But it's been good in a way, too. Seeing the game from a different point of view I think will help me. I've learned patience and I've learned about the other (ACC) teams' personnel."

She has been limited to riding the stationary bike, swimming and working out on a stair stepper but has yet to do any running, so conditioning will be a problem initially. But her adrenaline will be flowing. "If I get to warm up with the team," she said, "I'll be happy."

_ Brian Landman can be reached at (813) 226-3347 or by e-mail at Landmansptimes.com.

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