Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

FSU Wins ACC Opener

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Devidas Dulkys scored 13 of his team 17 points in the second half and Derwin Kitchen made a key save of a missed shot and added two free throws late in the game to lead Florida State to a come from behind 75-69 win over Clemson.

Dulkys, who sat out the previous game due to a ring finger injury on his non shooting hand, was just 2 of 7 with no three pointers in the first half. But the always confident junior just kept shooting and connected on three baskets from behind the arc with the key one coming with 1:50 left in the game giving the Seminoles a 67-63 working margin.

He followed that with an uncontested jumper from the right elbow after Clemson had closed it to 67-65 forcing Clemson head coach Brad Brownell to call timeout.

“The next one goes in,” Dulkys said. “That’s the way I approach the game.”

That confidence showed just two minutes seconds earlier hit a dagger to the Tigers when Andre Young clanged a three ball off the rim leading to a break for FSU. Dulkys spotted up in the left corner right in front of the Seminole bench and with no defender even remotely close to him he calmly nailed it putting the ‘Noles up 62-61.

“He’s confident at this stage of his career that the next one is going in,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “That’s the difference between a freshman and a junior.”

For his part in the game, Kitchen had an outstanding second half as well finishing with 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists against just one turnover.

But it was his save of a Young three point air ball where Kitchen as he was falling out of bounds tapped a one handed pass back to a teammate that caused the Tigers to foul FSU the remaining forty seconds.

Kitchen was the first one sent to the line and the senior responded with two freebies to put FSU up 71-65.

Michael Snaer and Ian Miller were also sent to the line in the hopes they would miss to give Clemson a chance albeit a small one to pull out the game. It was not to be as both players converted all four free throws to close out Clemson and give the ‘Noles a 1-0 start to the conference schedule.

The game started out similar to other games the ‘Noles have played this season. In other words sloppy and the offense looking like it wasn’t in sync.

In the first ten minutes alone the ‘Noles turned the ball over six times. A frustrating aspect for the coaching staff, the Seminoles gained focus and committed only sight more over the remaining thirty minutes.

And on offense FSU scored just 28 points by halftime shooting 35% and trailing the Tigers by six.

The ‘Noles led early 8-2 but saw that evaporate quickly falling behind by as much as seven points 25-19 with 5:48 left in the half.

In the second half the offense reversed that with players taking smarter shots and attacking the basket more so leading to a 52% average from the floor over the second thirty minutes.

It didn’t look like FSU was going to shoot much better though connecting on just 1 of 9 shots initially. But FSU was able to get to the free throw line and close the gap in addition to forcing six Clemson turnovers in the first 4:01.

Dulky’s first three pointer of the game came at the 15:29 mark giving FSU a 38-36, their first lead since an 8-5 lead, that started a flurry of back and forth lead changes and ties over the next seven minutes.

Clemson ran a patient offense though running down the shot clock before scoring and rattling off an 11-3 run to give the Tigers a 57-51 lead with 7:19 to play after Demontez Stitt’s wide open three bomb from the left corner.

FSU however responded with a 13-4 run never failing to earn points in their next seven possessions.

Chris Singleton’s (the only other Seminole in double figures with 13 points) offensive put back in a possession that had four offensive rebounds gave the ‘Noles a 64-61 lead putting the pressure on Clemson.

Hamilton summed up the improved play in the second half by saying “Well, it’s concentration. Concentration and being much better organized.”

“We have a tendency to make poor decisions when we’re not as organized. And we worked on that all week. I thought we had a much better feel for each other.”

He was quick to point out though that his team is “still not hitting on all cylinders at the same time”.

Clemson had five players in double digits with Stitt leading the way with 18 points.  But only three points were scored by the other five Tigers who found their way to the court whereas FSU’s bench added 25 points.

With exams out of the way, FSU will get in some quality practice time before taking on Stetson on Wednesday night in Tallahassee. Tipoff is set for 9:00 PM and will be aired on Fox Sports – Florida.

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