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Douglas, Florida State enjoy first game as ranked squad

Feb 11, 2009 - 5:18 AM TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Ticker) -- Toney Douglas was not going to let an unimpressive start spoil Florida State's return to national prominence.

Douglas scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half as No. 25 Florida State posted a 68-57 victory over Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Tuesday.

Uche Echefu had 17 points and six rebounds and Solomon Alabi scored 13 for the Seminoles (19-5, 6-3 ACC), who won their third straight game.

"I am pleased that we are 6-3 (in the ACC)," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I feel that we still have a lot of room for improvement."

In the coaches' poll for the first time in more than five years, Florida State shook off a sluggish effort with a late 17-5 run to pull ahead.

The Seminoles looked woeful early, shooting just 26 percent (6-of-23) in allowing the struggling Cavaliers to take a 22-20 lead at the half. It was Virginia's first lead at the break in eight games - all in the ACC.

Douglas and Florida State turned it around over the closing 20 minutes, connecting on a sizzling 71 percent (17-of-24) from the floor, including 6-of-9 on 3-pointers. The senior guard ended up 6-of-13 with two baskets from the arc en route to his 12th straight game with 17 or more points.

"They have a guy in Douglas who in the second half and the points he has been able to produce after halftime, he showed great poise," Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. "He always let the game come to him. When he took the game over, he made some big shots early, and played off of his game. He played intellectually."

Douglas, who leads the ACC in scoring in league games with 23.3 points, also matched a career high with seven assists.

After opening the second half by scoring six of the first eight points, the Seminoles built a 40-35 advantage with 10:06 remaining behind an 11-3 run. Douglas capped the spurt with consecutive 3-pointers.

Yet, the contest was tied at 43-43 with nearly 6 1/2 minutes left when Alabi connected on a turnaround jumper that started the decisive burst. Echefu also hit a jumper and Douglas added a layup before freshman Deividas Dulkys' 3-pointer made it 52-43 with 4:28 remaining.

Dulkys finished 3-of-5 from the arc en route to nine points.

Alabi added another jumper and a dunk before two free throws by Chris Singleton gave Florida State a 60-48 cushion with 1:31 to play.

"We moved the ball and made the extra pass," Hamilton said of his team's improvement after halftime. "We shot 70 percent in the second half and a lot of it was because we created opportunities for our teammates."

The Seminoles defeated the Cavaliers for the sixth time in the last seven meetings despite being outclassed on the boards by a 42-30 margin, including 21-5 on the offensive end.

Once again experiencing a sluggish start, Florida State cannot afford for it to happen again in its next game at No. 8 Wake Forest on Saturday.

"I have to say that being 6-3 going on the road this weekend, we are pleased with where we are but we realize that in order to go into Winston-Salem on Saturday and get a victory, we are going to have to play better than we did tonight," Hamilton said.

Sylven Landesberg scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Cavaliers (7-13, 1-8), who lost for the eighth straight time - their longest losing streak since 1997-98.

Mike Scott added eight points and nine boards for Virginia, which shot 34 percent (23-of-67).