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Tough test awaits 'Noles at NCSU

Leonard Hamilton often likes to remark about how challenging life in the Atlantic Coast Conference can be. How virtually every team has quality players and can compete on a game-to-game as well as year-to-year basis.

FSU is in need of a big road victory.

It's nothing new for Florida State's head coach, who is nearing the homestretch of his 11th ACC campaign in Tallahassee.

But Hamilton can’t help but take notice when scouting FSU's next opponent, the N.C. State Wolfpack. When the Seminoles visit the Wolfpack tonight (7 p.m., ESPN2), they'll have to contend with five players who score in double-figures and two more who make significant contributions off the bench.

“It's very unusual,” Hamilton said, “for you to face a team that has seven potent offensive players.”

That group starts with junior C.J. Leslie, a 6-9, 200-pound forward who Hamilton believes will be a first-round draft pick.

Richard Howell, who Hamilton describes as “having one of the top seasons” in the ACC, averages a double-double of 13.2 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Lorenzo Brown scores 12.9 points per game and, with 4.3 assists per game, is an effective distributor.

Senior Scott Wood, who infamously lit up the Seminoles from 3-point range a few years ago, gives N.C. State a threat from beyond the arc.

“Everybody knows he's a lethal perimeter shooter,” Hamilton said.

Thomas has seen an increased role in recent games.

Rodney Purvis (9 points per game) rounds out the starting five and T.J. Warren (11.4 points per game) ensures there isn't much drop-off when the Wolfpack goes to its bench.

“They've got seven players (contributing), so you don't have a position you can help
off of,” Hamilton said. “So they get your attention in all the spots. Then when they come off the bench, there's no let-up.”

N.C. State made a surprise run to the Sweet 16 a year ago and, with so much talent returning from that team, was an overwhelming choice to win the ACC this season.

But a three-game losing streak (which included a one-point loss to Miami and another loss to Duke) has the Wolfpack sitting at 7-5 after 12 games, good for fourth place in the league but just a game ehad of FSU in the standings.

Tonight's game figures to be the first time FSU's new, freshman-heavy lineup sees action on the road. Hamilton has inserted Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert and Michael Ojo into the lineup with Michael Snaer and Okaro White in the last two games and has found some success.

“We're worried about us going in there and just doing what we have to do to beat N.C. State,” Thomas said. “If we do what we have to do, everything else will fall into place.”

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