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February 2, 2008It still went down as a loss in the books, but the Florida State men's basketball players feel the second half against Virginia Tech, where the Seminoles scored 56 points, was a turning point for the good.
"We feel really good," forward Matt Zitani said. "It's kind of weird. We're 2-5 and we lost two in a row, but we came out of the second half of the Virginia Tech game and we felt we were out of this funk."
FSU (13-9, 2-5 in the ACC) will need to be completely free of that funk when it hosts No. 4 North Carolina (20-1, 5-1 in the ACC) on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Seminoles haven't beaten the Tar Heels since 2004, going 0-4 since then.
With FSU's slow start to the conference schedule, Sunday's game against UNC has veered into the "must-win" category. The Seminoles main problem has been the hot and cold spurts that they've suffered not just from game to game, but from minute to minute over the past few contests.
The Seminoles scorched the Hokies for 56 in the second half of their game, but the Hokies led by 18 at halftime. It was a familiar story: FSU led North Carolina State by 12 before trailing by five just five minutes later. It led Duke at home before allowing a 16-2 run.
Yet that second half against Virginia Tech felt different, guard Isaiah Swann said. In shooting 60 percent from the floor, Swann said that proved the Seminoles are capable of playing at a high level and made him wonder why they haven't done it more often.
"Why can't we do this all the time?" Swann asked. "We do we wait until we're down 20 or when we feel like we're about to lose this game? It seems like we pick spots where we do it and where we don't want to do it instead of just doing it all the time."
Swann said that hot ending to the Virginia Tech game had carried over to the practice court.
"I think we're really confident," he said. "(On Thursday) we worked it until it was a well-oiled machine. I'm just hoping when we get out there on Sunday, we bring that. If we just bring that, we'll be fine."
The Tar Heels thrive on turnovers and bad shot selection, Zitani said, so Florida State needs to maintain the momentum in the second half a few nights ago. Beating UNC won't be easy, but, as Super Bowl Sunday approached, Swann said the team name-dropped the New York Giants a few times.
FSU won't be the only team climbing a steep mountain that day, but, Swann said, if the Giants can do it, so can the Seminoles.
"I think we can do it," he said. "I just think we have to believe we can do it. That's the biggest thing for us."
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