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Barnes helps FSU pull away from GT late

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In a game that featured many runs by both teams, No. 15 Florida State delivered one more blow en route to a 74-61 win over Georgia Tech.

Scottie Barnes had 16 points and MJ Walker added 14 points as the Seminoles moved to 1-0 on the year in ACC play, snapping a three-year losing streak on opening day in conference play.

FSU went on a 16-3 run in the first half to build an early 18-8 lead, capped by a Wyatt Wilkes made three-point shot at the 11:53 mark.

Wilkes had a strong night, finishing with 11 points on a perfect 3 for 3 from beyond the arc.

However, the Yellow Jackets went on a run of their own to tie the game at 22-22, midway through the first half. FSU would close the half on a 14-7 spurt that saw Anthony Polite and Wilkes hit two more threes to extend the lead to seven. 

Wilkes had all 11 of his points in the first half, as the Seminoles led 36-29 into the break. The Seminole bench also had 18 of its 20 total points in the first half, while FSU shot 6 of 11 from three and forced nine Georgia Tech turnovers. 

“We want to be a well-balanced attack where we can do many things,” FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said after the game on his team’s ability to shoot the ball from three. 

“But we think this has a chance to be one of the strengths of our team.”

The Seminoles started the 2nd half on a quick 9-4 run, finished by a Walker three from the corner to extend the lead to 45-33, forcing a Josh Pastner timeout. 

The visitors caught fire in the middle of the second half, making the game interesting. Tech went on a 15-0 run to cut a 51-35 lead to just one at 9:58 mark. Sloppy ball handling and a quick spurt in the transition game saw the Yellow Jackets on the verge of making a big comeback.  

However, Barnes once again took over in a big moment for FSU, finishing a monster dunk as the shot clock expired and followed with another bucket as well as a pair of free throws to push the lead to 59-53 and the home team never looked back.

Florida State closed the game on a 23-11 run, winning comfortably in the end.

“I’m learning every day, we just trust each other so much,” Barnes said of his teammates at FSU. 

“I’m just trying not to do too much and keep getting better.”

FSU shot 8 of 17 on the night from beyond the arc, continuing its hot form to begin the season. The Seminoles are now No. 22 in the country, shooting 40.3% as a team from deep.

“We think we can be one of if not the best shooting team in the country,” Polite said.

FSU moved to 4-0 on the season and next takes on UCF in Tallahassee on Saturday in Tallahassee, with tip-off being set for 9 p.m. The game will air on ACC Network.

FSU wins ACC opener

Florida State lost at Pittsburgh last season in the first ACC game and previously fell to Duke in the 2017-18 opener and Virginia in the 2018-19 to start off league play.

“This is a very important victory for us,” Hamilton said. “The last couple of years we’ve lost our first ACC game. So we’ve gotten off to a pretty good start. We’re a team that’s still learning, still growing. We’re not as smooth as we need to be. To be 4-0 this time of year, we’ll take it and we’re pleased with where we are.”

The Seminoles won for the 27th straight time in Tallahassee, including all four games to open the 2020-21 season.

Quoting

“Scottie Barnes, he’ll be the next lottery pick coming out of Florida State,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “He made some big plays.”

Box score

Click here for the box score in PDF format.

Osceola writer Bob Ferrante contributed