The Seminoles capped their nonconference slate with an 87-76 win over Winthrop, extending a win streak to six games.
Now the tests get tougher.
FSU (12-1) will face No. 4 Virginia (12-0) on the road Saturday, clashing with a team that likes to slow down the pace offensively while playing stingy defense.
The Seminoles then return home for games against Miami and No. 1 Duke.
The UVA game will be the first conference matchup for the Seminoles and a chance to gauge where they truly are as a team at this point.
FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said he saw numerous different players step up during nonconference play and their versatility will be the Seminoles’ biggest asset as they try to climb to the top of the ACC.
The team also is adapting to the return of Phil Cofer, who missed the majority of nonconference play while recovering from an injury.
“We still have some moving parts. We’re still trying to find the right rotations,” Hamilton said. “Adding Phil [Cofer], he’s a very important part. Some minutes become less, some become more. Every game there will be adjustments we have to make. Every night, I think you’ve seen, it’s been different, someone else has had an opportunity to step up and I expect that to be who we are.”
Dealing with that much change night in and night out can wear on a team trying to find consistency, but Hamilton said the Seminoles have handled it well so far.
“I like our attitudes. I think from a focus standpoint, we’ve been focused, we’ve just got some maturing to do,” he said. “We’ve got good chemistry, our kids are giving good effort. New guys are trying to adjust to a to a system and they need to have some successes so they can gain more confidence and be more consistent.”
When FSU faces UVA, it will be the 11th time the two teams square off while both teams are ranked in the top 10.
The Seminoles are 12-1 for the fourth time in program history, tying a school record for best start in 13 games.
FSU also is 2-1 against Virginia during the past three games and senior Christ Koumadje said the Seminoles must pull from that experience.
“A lot guys stepped up [during nonconference play]. The new guys, they got some reps in,” he said. “So that experience they go should definitely carry over into the ACC.”
Redshirt sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele said the team has already exhibited qualities that will serve them well during the tough upcoming schedule.
“I would say our maturity and our response to adversity [has improved],” he said. “Even last year, we responded well with our wins against Xavier and Gonzaga and all the teams that made runs against us. I feel like this team, with the amount of guys that we have this year, I feel like our response to adversity has been really well so far.”
To defeat the Cavaliers, FSU junior Trent Forrest said the Seminoles have to remain patient and stick to the game plan.
“We’ve just got to move the ball really good against their defense and get them out of their shell,” he said. “And then not attack on first side because they’re too good to on their first and usually second side of their defense. So just moving the ball and getting it reversed as fast as we can.”