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No. 15 Florida State readies for in-state clash vs. UCF

Florida State is looking to add to its fine start when it steps out of Atlantic Coast Conference play for a game against an in-state opponent Central Florida on Saturday night.

The No. 15 Seminoles (4-0) will host UCF with their home winning streak currently sitting at 27 consecutive victories.

The defending conference champions pulled away from Georgia Tech to open ACC play on Tuesday, beating the Atlanta school 74-61 as dynamic Seminoles newcomer Scottie Barnes tallied all but two of his team-high 16 points in the second half.

He connected on six of his 10 attempts from the field, plus he added six rebounds and a pair of steals.

The 6-foot-9 Barnes left a distinct impression on Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, who was facing the true freshman for the first time.

"Scottie Barnes, he'll be the next lottery pick coming out of Florida State. He made some big plays," Pastner said.

But the Seminoles received good contributions all around as they shot 52.9 percent from the field (27 of 51) and 47.1 percent from behind the arc (8 of 17).

Sharpshooter Wyatt Wilkes came off the bench and made all three of his 3-pointers, as FSU's reserves pumped in 20 points.

"I think we're really deep," said Barnes. "We have a lot of guys that can bring instant offense. We have shooters everywhere on the floor."

Backcourt mates M.J. Walker (16.8 points per game) and Barnes (12.5) top the Seminoles in scoring, while Balsa Koprivica (10.3) and Anthony Polite (10.0) also tally in double figures.

During its last few seasons of ACC play, FSU has won 31 of its last 40 regular-season games in establishing itself as one of the league's elite teams.

Getting off to a good start this season was key for coach Leonard Hamilton's squad, which had lost its last three conference openers.

"The last couple of years we've lost our first ACC game," said Hamilton. "So we've gotten off to a pretty good start.

"To be 4-0 this time of year, we'll take it and we're pleased with where we are."

UCF (1-1) has experienced ups and downs in its play this season after games against Oklahoma and Houston were canceled due to COVID-19.

This campaign opened in promising fashion with a 63-55 win over visiting Auburn, with UCF putting on a strong defensive effort against the Tigers.

But in their first road game nearly two weeks ago in Ann Arbor, the Knights succumbed to host Michigan, dropping an 80-58 decision after the Wolverines used a 20-0 second-half run to put the contest away.

After not seeing his team play since Dec. 6, fifth-year coach Johnny Dawkins said his group is ready for the giant challenge of playing Florida State in Tallahassee.

"It's always good to get practices under your belt," said Dawkins. "But at this stage, we've had over 40 practices. You want to play games -- we've had two games and 40-plus practices.

"(Our players) are just banging bodies against each other every day."

Dawkins said injured starting point guard Darius Perry (undisclosed) will not play and miss his third game.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 17, 2020

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