TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State's success against zone defenses has played a major role in the Seminoles' four-game winning streak.
Now they are about to square off against maybe the ultimate zone defense in college: Syracuse's challenging 2-3 zone.
Coach Leonard Hamilton is no stranger in game planning for the Orange's zone as this marks the 19th time he has faced Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. But as Hamilton noted, it is one thing to know it and another to go out and execute against it.
The Seminoles last three wins have come against teams who played zone - Clemson, North Carolina State and last Saturday's 20-point win at Wake Forest.
''We've been playing to who we are. Many times we are moving the ball better and taking the best shot,'' Hamilton said. ''We're doing a better job of creating and playing for each other.''
Florida State has had success by getting a better mix of shots. The Seminoles have shot 50.3 percent from the field along and averaging nearly eight 3-pointers in the past three games. FSU also has done a better job getting out in transition.
Syracuse's zone is mostly designed to be active on the perimeter but it does leave the baseline exposed.
Freshman Dwayne Bacon, who is averaging 17.3 points over the past three games, has had success attacking the baseline along with finding a spot in the middle, where he has regularly hit from 12-16 feet.
''Their 2-3 can be a killer if you don't do the little things to spice it up on offense,'' Bacon said. ''I expect to be near the middle again because that opens things up. I can either dish it out to the perimeter guys or I can attack near the basket.''
Syracuse and Florida State - both 6-5 in conference play - are two of the hotter teams in the ACC after slow starts. The Seminoles (16-7) have won six of their last eight after starting 0-3 while the Orange (16-8) have won six of seven after dropping their first four.
Orange senior forward Michael Gbinije, who is sixth in the conference at 17.2 points per game, has scored in double figures in 24 straight games. Seminoles guard Malik Beasley, who leads ACC freshmen in scoring and is fifth overall at 17.3 points per game, has been in double figures in 23 straight.
''They've got so many guys that can score. They've got really good size, they've got experience, they've got tremendous offensive talent,'' Boeheim said during the ACC teleconference earlier this week. ''Since I've been back, I think our defense has been a little better. We've just banged, hung in there.''
This marks an important week for Florida State as it tries to get to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. After Thursday's game, the Seminoles will host No. 12 Miami on Sunday. If they can beat Syracuse, it would mark Florida State's fourth five-game winning streak in the ACC since 1992 and its first in four seasons.
Hamilton isn't looking ahead.
''We have a lot more work to do. We've won six games. Nobody in this league gets into the NCAA Tournament winning six games in their conference,'' he said. ''We got too many good teams we haven't played against to start looking too far down the road. If we start worrying about what's going to happen in March, we won't take care of what's happening in February.''