The Donald L. Tucker Center may not look so impressive from the outside. It’s mostly the same as it has appeared for decades.
But on the inside? The renovated arena with a top-10 men’s basketball team is one of the hottest places to watch a game. And a tough setting for visiting teams.
“Our fans have given us tremendous support and I hope they keep coming, they mean a lot to our kids,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “The atmosphere that’s growing here at the Tucker Center is appreciated, there’s no doubt. We want to keep it going.”
FSU (19-3, 9-2 ACC) has enjoyed a home-court atmosphere that is as intimidating as the Seminoles’ defense. The student section has sold out for games against Virginia, Notre Dame and North Carolina, and there’s another sellout for Saturday’s home game with Miami (noon on ACC Network).
The arena has been at capacity or nearly full the last month, with boosters and fans showing their appreciation for the Seminoles’ play and getting loud on an opponent’s big possession to help FSU’s players. FSU is also 5-0 in ACC games at home this season, the only league team that can claim that accomplishment.
“Our fans and student section have it rocking in here,” forward Patrick Williams said. “It’s hard for the other team to focus, I mean it’s hard for me to hear. It’s got to be hard for the other team to run their sets.”
Whether you’ve been to a few games or most of them, that’s what hits you: When FSU makes a big shot, dunks or has a defensive stand in a tight game, the arena erupts and the noise is intense.
Fans have been treated to some good basketball. FSU went 15-1 at home in 2018-19 and is 11-0 this season. If it’s hard to recall the last loss, maybe that’s because it was on Jan. 12, 2019. Against No. 1 Duke, on a buzzer-beater.
And even the last four seasons have featured an incredible run as FSU has won 57 of its 60 home games since the start of the 2016-17 season. Senior guard Trent Forrest has enjoyed all of that run and recognizes the significance of the students’ support in particular.
“Coming in my freshman year to where it is now is just amazing,” Forrest said. “I feel like those guys, they have our back all the time and we just want to make it fun around the basketball program, have the same thing that these other schools have with their student sections.”
FSU is looking for its 20th win of the season. It would mark the fifth straight season that the Seminoles have won 20 or more games, the longest consecutive streak of 20-win seasons in school history.
Vassell a finalist for Julius Erving Award
Sophomore guard Devin Vassell has been selected as one of 10 finalists for this year’s Julius Erving Award, which is presented by the Naismith Ball Hall of Fame. The honor recognizes the top small forward in men’s college basketball.
Vassell leads FSU in scoring (13.5 points), rebounds (5.3) and blocks (24) and is second on the team in steals (33). He also leads the team in 3-point shooting percentage (42.7).