ATLANTA (AP) — Leonard Hamilton figures his Florida State team has plenty of room for improvement.
At least against struggling Georgia Tech, the Seminoles could deal with their mistakes while getting a road win they had to have coming off a 20-point loss to North Carolina.
Chris Singleton scored 16 points, Michael Snaer had 15 and Florida States used an early 14-0 run to beat the Yellow Jackets 72-63 Thursday night.
The Seminoles (17-7, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) desperately needed a win to beef up their NCAA resume, especially after the 89-69 rout by North Carolina and an ugly 62-44 loss at Clemson the week before that.
They came to the right place.
For the second straight game, Georgia Tech (10-13, 3-7) had a devastating scoreless stretch in the early going. Last weekend, Clemson put together a 22-0 run on the way to a 65-56 victory. This time, the Yellow Jackets went nearly 7 minutes without scoring, a dreadful display that included 11 straight missed shots and five turnovers.
"We've been a team that's kind of been in transition all year long," said Hamilton, the Seminoles' coach. "We've played some excellent basketball at times. We've also played like a team trying to find itself."
Florida State turned in a sloppy performance, turning it over 17 times and letting Georgia Tech hang around despite shooting just 30 percent (23-of-77). But the Seminoles were never seriously threatened by a team with few offensive weapons beyond Iman Shumpert and Glen Rice Jr.
Shumpert led Georgia Tech with 25 points and Rice added 24, but the rest of the Yellow Jackets produced only 14 points. None of the other three starters scored at all.
"We need to get them some help," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.
Singleton also had 10 rebounds, while Snaer finished off the Yellow Jackets with a couple of nifty drives in the closing minutes. Okaro White added 12 points for Florida State.
"I hope we keep winning while we're developing," Hamilton said. "If we can get through this stretch, hopefully later on we'll be a well-oiled machine. Right now, we're not even close to being as good as I think we can be. Even though we're 7-3 and within striking distance of the top teams in the league, there's still a tremendous amount of room for improvement."
Georgia Tech has lost four in a row and five out of six, putting more heat on the embattled Hewitt. In addition to poor results on the court, the administration can't be too thrilled about playing one ACC game after another in a half-filled arena. The crowd was announced at 5,902.
Trailing 17-2, the Yellow Jackets finally broke the 14-point run with Mfon Udofia's third-try lay-in, following two straight offensive rebounds. The Yellow Jackets finished 7-of-36 in the first half, not even cracking 20 percent from the field. But at least they had plenty of chances to pad their rebounding stats in the opening half, actually grabbing more at the offensive end (15) than they did on the defensive side (11).
Florida State led 30-18 at the break, and Georgia Tech never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
In the second half, the Yellow Jackets tried to fire up the sparse crowd with Shumpert lobbing to high-flying Jason Morris for an alley-oop dunk. Only one problem: he missed. So did Shumpert a few minutes later, soaring toward the hoop after grabbing an offensive rebound, only to have the ball ricochet high off the rim.
Georgia Tech didn't fare much better outside, hitting just 7 of 31 from beyond the 3-point arc. The only thing worth cheering about was Shumpert passing 1,000 points in his career.
"We were not making the 3s we normally make," Rice said. "A couple of times we settled for 3s when we should have been getting to the basket and letting them foul us."
The Seminoles appeared to put it on cruise control after racing to that 15-point lead before the game was even 9 minutes old.
"It gave us confidence," Singleton said. "But we didn't sustain it. We started slowing it down."
At least the defense returned to form. After giving up a season high to the Tar Heels, this was a more familiar effort by Florida State, normally one of the ACC's stingiest teams.
"Most of the time, our defense is going to be there," Singleton said. "It showed up tonight."