Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Mark Wallheiser
February 27, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton has not been pleased with his team's defensive performance the past couple weeks. On Saturday, the Seminoles had one of their best defensive games of the season in a 77-56 victory over No. 23 Notre Dame, snapping a five-game losing streak.

''They had been one of the top one or two offensive execution teams in the country. We had to have a tremendous effort for 40 minutes in order to be successful against them,'' Hamilton said.

The Fighting Irish came into the game tied for 21st in field goal percentage (48.3 percent). But Florida State (17-12, 7-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) held them to a season low in field goal percentage (35.7) and points (56).

In the second half, the Irish made just eight of their 27 attempts from the field.

''Everyone was committed to playing defense, helping the big men out and blocking out the guards,'' said senior center Boris Bojanovsky, who had eight points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots. ''Definitely the second half was our best defense of the season. The whole game might be one of our best ones.''

The defense helped get Florida State going on the offensive end, especially in transition as it made a season-high 11 3-pointers. Dwayne Bacon scored 21 points as the Seminoles led throughout.

Florida State was up 46-30 at halftime and at one point in the second half led by as many as 23 points. The closest Notre Dame got in the second half was 46-33 on a 3-pointer by Demetrius Jackson.

''We played great defense. Outstanding defense,'' said Bacon, who had his 11th game of 20 points or more this season. ''We moved the ball on offense. If we do that, we can win any game. We did that perfect tonight.''

Benji Bell added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, as Florida State evened its record to 2-2 at home against ranked teams.

Jackson had 13 points for Notre Dame (19-9, 10-6), which has dropped two of three. Zach Auguste added 12 points and 17 rebounds.

''As bad as we were in our ball-screen defense, they were excellent. ... They blocked seven. And they changed probably six,'' Irish coach Mike Brey said. ''You can't get any of those easies that kind of make you feel good. That demoralizes you. So I think it was a combination of their bigs and their guards on the point of attack.''

PIVOTAL MOMENT

With the score tied at 7, Florida State took control with an 11-3 run. Notre Dame got within 18-17 before the Seminoles ran off seven straight points, the last five from Bell. Florida State would lead by as many as 18 points late in the first half.

LONG-DISTANCE BELL

Bell, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, has 36 field goals this season, 21 of them 3-pointers. The 14 points was his fourth double-digit game.

Bell was the leading player off the bench as Florida State's reserves had a 33-14 advantage.

''He's a great shooter. Nobody got mad at him for taking the heat checks because he was hot. We need that for a player coming off the bench,'' Bacon said of Bell.

STAT LINES

Florida State's 46 first-half points were its most in an ACC game this season. The previous high was 45 against Virginia Tech on Feb. 20. ... This is the first time this season Notre Dame has had two straight games where it has had more turnovers (11) than assists (10).

TIP-INS

Notre Dame: Jackson had four assists to become the 18th player in school history with 300 or more for his career. Jackson has 301 as five of the top 10 players on the career list have been during Brey's tenure.

Florida State: Bacon and Malik Beasley became the second and third players in school history to score over 450 points in their freshman season. Bacon has 457 for the season and Beasley 451. Xavier Rathan-Mayes has the record with 475 last season.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame hosts No. 12 Miami on Wednesday.

Florida State hosts Syracuse on March 5.

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Follow Joe Reedy at twitter.com/joereedy. His work can be found at http://collegebasketball.ap.org/journalist/joe-reedy

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