Published November 20, 2014
Florida State's top-ranked defense has got the Seminoles on top of the Atlantic Coast Conference, at least for now.
Derwin Kitchen's 16 points led a balanced Florida State scoring attack as the Seminoles blew open a close game in the second half and defeated Boston College 67-51 Saturday night.
Four players finished in double figures for the Seminoles (15-5, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who share the league lead with fourth-ranked Duke (18-1, 5-1).
"We're kind of moving into uncharted waters for our basketball program," said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. "In order for this to be meaningful, we have to continue to stay focused. We have to continue to keep getting better."
Florida State hasn't started 5-1 in the ACC since its 1992-93 team that featured four first-round NBA picks and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight before being eliminated by Kentucky. The Seminoles have never won the ACC regular season or tournament, but they've never had a defense like this one, either.
"They don't give you a clean look," first-year Boston College coach Steve Donahue said. "You have to play offense for 30 seconds and work your tail off on offense to get a good shot."
The Eagles came into the contest averaging 75.5 points a game, but shot just 35.4 percent (17 of 48). Florida State is holding opponents to a 34.9 shooting percentage this season, the best mark in the country.
Michael Snaer scored 13 points, Bernard James 12 and freshman Okaro White added 11 off the bench for the Seminoles. Florida State's leading scorer on the season, Chris Singleton, had just four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Joe Trapani's 19 points and 12 rebounds led Boston College (14-6, 4-2), which was held to its lowest scoring total of the season.
"We're a pretty good defensive team, but we recognized if we were not on it with the skill that they had on the floor that they could make you look bad," Hamilton said.
BC's Reggie Jackson, the ACC's second-leading scorer, was scoreless until the final second of the half when he sank three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. The free throws pulled the Eagles to within 29-27 at the break. He finished with 13 points.
"You don't stop guys of that caliber," Hamilton said. "You just try to make them work hard."
James and Kitchen led the Seminoles to a 36-22 rebound advantage with seven apiece. Kitchen added a game-high six assists and James had four blocked shots.
"You can't get satisfied," said Kitchen, who sparked Florida State's 66-61 win over Duke 10 days ago. "We still have 10 games left."
James, a 6-foot-10 junior college transfer and U.S. Air Force veteran, has made 15 of his last 17 field goal tries, including all three Saturday.
The Seminoles led by as many as 17 in the second half on their way to their fourth straight win since suffering their lone ACC loss earlier this month at Virginia Tech.
Jackson, who was averaging 19.4 points a game, got his first field goal with a mid-range jumper with 16:10 left in the game.
Florida State, which won both of its games against the Eagles last season, led three times in the opening half by as many as five points, grabbing the lead for good at 19-16 on Snaer's 3-point shot with 6:59 left.
Trapani hit five of his nine shots in the first half while the rest of the Eagles were just 4 of 16, with Jackson missing his first five shots.