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Bacon sizzles to start ACC play

 

By all accounts, Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon has been exceptional this season. However, as a sophomore, Bacon has kicked it up a notch in the team’s first two ACC games.

The Seminoles, who jumped to No. 12 in this week’s AP poll, have started conference play 2-0 — with wins over Wake Forest and then on the road at Virginia. In both games, Bacon starred. Here’s a look at how he has dominated in those contests:

28.5 minutes, 26 points, 57.6 FG%, 50 3P% (7-of-14), 5.5 free throw attempts and just two total turnovers

According to Ken Pomeroy, Bacon has used more than 32 percent of Florida State’s possessions when he has been on the court; KenPom also has Bacon with an offensive rating of nearly 1.32 points produced per possession. This is insanely good.

The sophomore wing has a hyper-efficient true shooting rate of 68 percent and has turned the ball over at a rate of just 2.1 times per 100 possessions.

Florida State scored 148 points in its first two league wins; Bacon has accounted for 52 of those points — or 35.1 percent. Xavier Rathan-Mayes (16.5 points) is the only other Seminole to currently average double-digit scoring to start conference play.

Bacon was especially brilliant in the road win over UVA. It is almost always an uphill battle to shake loose against the Cavaliers; however, Bacon scored a career-high 29 points — 26 of which came in the second half. Florida State, as a team, scored 37 points after intermission, which means Bacon accounted for roughly 70 percent of the Seminoles’ scoring over the final 20 minutes of play.

Variety is the spice of life, and the way Bacon mixed and matched different looks against an army of Virginia defenders was filled with zest.

Florida State involved Bacon in multiple actions. He started in the corner on some sets before sprinting into a dribble handoff, which the sophomore then used to get a clean look from distance. FSU also ran Bacon off your standard run-of-the-mill down screens, and he just torched Tony Bennett’s crew. Three-pointers, dribble drives, floaters — you name it. He had it going Saturday afternoon.

Bacon must have worn his clutch jeans, too, because he hit several shots in high-leverage situations for Florida State, including a baseline out-of-bounds set that involved Bacon as a screener before he ran off a Michael Ojo screen for a catch-and-shoot long two as the shot clock hit zero. That kind of off the ball movement is what will make Bacon so tough for ACC defenses to contain. Switch if your personnel allows you to, but if his teammates screen well, the former McDonald’s All-American will cook. Don’t be surprised to see Florida State involve Bacon as a screener as well. That could also cause serious trouble for opponents.

In the game’s most critical juncture, Florida State possessed with ball with less than nine seconds remaining, trailing by one. There was no panic, though. Bacon dribbled up the left side and drilled a game-winning three-pointer with only two seconds left on the clock and Isaiah Wilkins — Virginia’s ace defender — in his grill. Everyone in John Paul Jones Arena knew what was coming, yet they could do nothing to prevent it. Nasty.

ACC play has just launched; it is super early, but no one has kicked things off in more grand fashion than Dwayne Bacon, who has Florida State positioned to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.