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January 14, 2011
"He killed us twice last year," Kitchen said. "He's not the only good player on their team, but if he comes down here and scores 31 again he might make me cry this time."
Fresh off its shocking 66-61 upset of No. 1 Duke Wednesday, Florida State (12-5, 2-1 ACC) hosts Wood and NC State (11-5, 1-1) on Saturday. Last season as a lanky 6-foot-7 freshman, Wood scored a career-high 31 points to lift the Wolfpack to an 88-81 win in Tallahassee. That was the most points an opposing player scored on FSU last season and the most points an opposing team has scored on them in the last three seasons.
What's so baffling about it all is that Wood averaged just 6.7 points in NC State's 34 other games.
"He probably has the best scoring average for anybody we've played," said FSU forward Chris Singleton. "I felt like he sees us and gets excited or something. I don't know."
But, FSU has far more to worry about than Wood breaking out for another big game this time around. Five Wolfpack players are averaging double figures in scoring as the addition of three prized freshman have given fifth-year coach Sidney Lowe a far more balanced team.
Senior big man Tracy Smith leads the team at 14.3 ppg , Wood is chipping in 10.8 ppg and freshman forward C.J. Leslie (11.1 ppg) and freshmen guards Ryan Harrow (10.9 ppg) and Lorenzo Brown (9.9) have each proven to be capable scorers.
"Every team we play has a Scott Wood, but it's not going to be Scott Wood against Florida State. It's going to be NC State against Florida State," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. "If you have played 16 games and have five guys averaging double figures that's hard to prepare for because that means any one of those guys is capable of getting 20 points."
When comparing the Wolfpack to the team FSU faced twice last year, Singleton says it those bevy of scoring threats that stand out more than anything. Singleton says that balance won't allow the Seminoles to give any extra attention defensively to Wood or any individual Wolfpack player.
"They got more options to score first and foremost," Singleton said. "You have to make sure you know where (Wood) is and minimize his shots, but you have got to pay attention to all their shooters. You have to have the same defensive presence on everyone. Everybody has to be on guard. We can't relax at all."
FSU certainly didn't relax at all against Duke. The 'Noles led the defending national champs for most of the game and held them to season-lows for points scored and field goal percentage (31.1 percent). They also held a 22-10 edge in points scored in the paint.
Now they will try and replicate that type of effort without the benefit of a sold-out crowd or the prestige that comes with knocking off a team of Duke's caliber.
"We are trying to make everything fun and make sure we got everything clicking," Singleton said. "The offense was there (against Duke). I feel like everybody was attacking and everybody was aggressive and making shots. We just got to hope it is all the same this game and rest of the season."
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Don't expect Wood to be a big factor again. Of course, that's what everybody was saying going into FSU and NC State's second meeting last year. The difference is NC State is much more balanced and has more players that can attack off the dribble. FSU's stellar defense (ranks second in nation in field goal percentage defense) should slow them down. The big key for the 'Noles is getting more steady offensive output from Singleton and Kitchen, who combined for 40 points against Duke. Unlike the Blue Devils, the Wolfpack are probably going to play a lot of zone defense, which has given FSU fits this year. If FSU solves the zone and doesn't settle for outside shots, they will win. Expect this to be the game that happens. Knocking off Duke will do wonders for a team's confidence. We'll say the 'Noles will prevail, 67-63.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE SEMINOLES:
Over his last five games, Singleton is averaging 21.0 points, 8.0 reboounds and shooting 51.5 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from 3-point range ? Singleton went 8-of-9 from the free throw line against Duke ? Kitchen is coming off a 22-point, 10-rebound performance against Duke.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE WOLFPACK:
Since returning from a knee injury, Smith is averaging 18 points and 5.8 rebounds in his last four games ? Leslie averaged 17.7 points over his last three games ? Harrow leads the ACC in free throw percentage (91.8 percent).