TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State dropped its ACC opener the last three seasons. This time, the defending league champs got the conference schedule started off right.
Freshman guard Scottie Barnes scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime and the 15th-ranked Seminoles pulled away midway through the second half to beat Georgia Tech 74-61 on Tuesday night.
“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.”
Barnes also grabbed six rebounds and had plenty of help as four other Seminoles scored in double figures.
Florida State lost at Pittsburgh last season in its first Atlantic Coast Conference game and previously fell to Duke in the 2017-18 opener and Virginia in 2018-19 to begin league play.
“This is a very important victory for us,” coach Leonard 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.”
Florida State (4-0, 1-0) is in good shape in large part because of Barnes, a newcomer who has brought energy and confidence, as well as a deep group of veterans. M.J. Walker scored 14 points and Balsa Koprivica added 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Seminoles won for the 27th straight time in Tallahassee, including all four games to open the 2020-21 season.
Michael Devoe had 21 points, while Jordan Usher and Moses Wright added 12 apiece for Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-1). The Yellow Jackets used a 15-0 run to get back into the game in the second half, but the Seminoles never relinquished their lead.
The Yellow Jackets went 22 of 51 (43%) from the floor but just 5 of 20 (25%) on 3s.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win,” Pastner said. “In the end it just came down to they made some 3s and we didn’t. There was a stretch there in the second half we had three great looks from 3. We missed them all. Great looks. That was the difference in the game.”
The Seminoles shot 27 of 51 (53%) from the floor and 8 for 17 (47%) from 3-point range.
Florida State has won 15 of the last 17 meetings in the series.
Wyatt Wilkes scored 11 points, making all three of his 3-pointers, to give the Seminoles a boost off the bench. Florida State had 20 bench points.
“I think we’re really deep,” Barnes said. “We have a lot of guys that can bring instant offense. We have shooters everywhere on the floor.”
Georgia Tech: Wright, who was averaging 21 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, was held to five points until midway through the second half. He finished with five rebounds.
Florida State: The Seminoles have gone 31-9 in their last 40 regular-season ACC games, including a 16-4 mark in 2019-20 en route to the league title.
Florida State just vaulted from No. 20 to No. 15 this week and could make an argument to move up even more with a win over UCF on Saturday.
Georgia Tech: Home against Florida A&M on Friday.
Florida State: Will host UCF on Saturday.
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