RALEIGH, N.C. — Eighth-ranked Florida State responded to a halftime deficit with an aggressive edge, driving the paint and attacking the glass. The Seminoles even threw in a few zone-defense looks, unusual for coach Leonard Hamilton’s bunch.
That combination gave FSU an edge against a confident team.
M.J. Walker scored all 12 of his points after halftime to help Florida State beat North Carolina State 67-61 Saturday, keeping the Seminoles in the cluster atop the ACC.
Up next: Monday’s critical home game against league leader Louisville. The No. 11 Cardinals lead FSU and Duke by a half-game.
“This time of year for our team, you’d like to think that you’re growing and maturing and adjusting to the things that are going on on the court,” Hamilton said. “I thought our guys responded very well. … We wanted to be more aggressive.”
FSU (23-4, 13-3 ACC) did that at both ends after trailing 32-27 at halftime. It went ahead for good with about 13½ minutes left against a Wolfpack team that had beaten No. 6 Duke by 22 a few days earlier.
Devon Daniels scored 18 to lead N.C. State (17-10, 8-8), which shot 41 percent and couldn’t get to the line after halftime with the same frequency. Coach Kevin Keatts got a technical with 9:21 left after Markell Johnson couldn’t draw a whistle on a drive. Keatts pointed to FSU’s 29-13 advantage in free-throw attempts.
“That’s tough,” he said. “It’s tough because when you’re playing against another team that will pick you up full court, typically like we do, and you play the entire time and there’s a disparity in free throws, I didn’t like it. I wasn’t happy with that part of it.”