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Flu leaves hole FSU can't fill against Wake

Top scorer Monte Cummings sits, Seminoles fade 71-65.

By ALEX ABRAMS

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


TALLAHASEE -- Florida State needed leading scorer Monte Cummings on Saturday against No. 19 Wake Forest.

Cummings needed some sinus medicine.

Stricken with the flu, the junior averaging 13.4 points could only watch as the Seminoles struggled in the final five minutes of a 71-65 loss to the Demon Deacons at the Leon-County Civic Center.

"What did we lose? We lost a guy who is our leading scorer," FSU coach Steve Robinson said. "All of a sudden, he's being replaced in the rotation. It kind of throws you off a little bit."

With Cummings out, FSU (6-17, 1-9 ACC) failed to find a player capable of scoring down the stretch. The team made one basket and scored six points in the final 4:56 for its seventh loss in eight games.

"We're close, but that doesn't make walking into that locker room any easier," Robinson said. "It doesn't make talking to those guys any easier or finding any more comfort."

The Demon Deacons (16-7, 5-6) nearly lost a 45-30 lead with 18:49 remaining. FSU went on a 29-19 run, and freshman center Mike Matthews made two free throws with 3:58 left to cut the deficit to three.

Wake Forest small forward Josh Howard responded 46 seconds later with a difficult three-pointer to extend the lead to 67-61.

"Josh Howard's three at 64-61 against their zone was absolutely a huge shot," Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said. "We're accustomed to him doing that kind of thing."

Howard and power forward Darius Songaila scored 13 each for the Demon Deacons. Backup point guard Robert O'Kelley came off the bench for a game-high 18 points.

With FSU trailing 67-63 with 58 seconds left, point guard Delvon Arrington missed an open three-pointer.

Arrington, a 50 percent shooter, struggled for four points on 1-of-12 shooting. He also committed four turnovers.

"We are working hard enough to kind of give ourselves a chance," Robinson said. "You got to have the play made to get you ahead. We had some opportunities, but they didn't go for us."

Backup center Mike Matthews led FSU with 15, one shy of his career high. Freshman Andrew Wilson, who played in Cummings' absence, added 10, and power forward Michael Joiner had 11 points and eight rebounds.

The Seminoles were reluctant to attack the basket, settling too often for the three-point shot. They made 5 of 18 three-pointers.

Wake Forest shot 48 percent from the floor to get its second win in its past six games.

"It was certainly a great and timely win for us," Odom said.

FSU shooting guard Adrian Crawford made two three-pointers to give him 121 in his career. He is two from tying LaMarr Greer for fifth on the school's all-time list.

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