No. 11 Florida State looks to secure ACC title vs. Notre Dame
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Florida State looks to wrap up its second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title when it visits struggling Notre Dame on Saturday at South Bend, Ind.
The No. 11 Seminoles (15-4, 11-3) have won 10 of their past 12 games to get in position to be repeat champions.
"Sometimes in life you don't have a chance to compete for one championship," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said after Wednesday's 93-64 home rout of Boston College. "We have an opportunity to compete for two, and back-to-back, in the best basketball conference ever assembled in the history of college basketball. We're excited about this opportunity."
Notre Dame (9-14, 6-11) has lost four straight games and it remains to be seen if Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey will be back for his 22nd season at the school.
This season marks the school's second losing campaign in three seasons and the coach with a school-record 446 victories finds himself on the hot seat.
"I'm also realistic about the big picture of things, too," Brey said after Wednesday's 80-69 home loss against North Carolina State. "You want to continue to be effective here. You know, I don't need to be told if I'm not being effective.
"I'm a pretty good judge of that."
Easier to judge is that recent performances against last-place Boston College (94-90) and North Carolina State weren't up to par. Notre Dame allowed a season worst for points in the Boston College setback.
"We really haven't had much the last two games -- fighting," said Brey, who turns 62 on March 22. "You can't use (coronavirus) pandemics and all that as an excuse. It's a little bit of the pride of digging in and competing."
Prentiss Hubb leads the Irish in scoring (14.3 points per game) and assists (6.1). He scored a team-best 14 points in the loss to NC State after pouring in a career-best 28 four days earlier against Boston College.
Nate Laszewski averages 13.9 points and a team-best 7.7 rebounds.
Florida State often wears teams down with its depth and has nine players averaging more than 14 minutes per game.
Senior guard M.J. Walker paces the team in scoring (13.1) and 3-pointers (39). He is coming off an 18-point effort against Boston College in which he tied his career best of six 3-pointers.
Walker was questionable entering the contest as he is still dealing with an ankle injury that caused him to sit out against Miami on Feb. 24. But there was no chance of Walker missing out on his final chance to suit up at home.
"I just toughened up, made my mind up and rolled with it," Walker said afterward. "A whole lot of pride behind this program. Definitely a lot of moments that I'll never forget.
"That was just my little stamp on everything I put in this program and all the help that coaches have given me, teammates in the past and present to get to this point."
RaiQuan Gray had 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting versus Boston College. He averages 12.2 points and team-leading 6.7 rebounds.
Florida State has won the past three meetings with Notre Dame and holds a 7-4 series lead.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 4, 2021