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Cummings' career day rescues FSU

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 20, 2001

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State senior guard Monte Cummings isn't the toughest guy in the world to scout.

He usually eschews the jumper and relies on a dizzying first step to drive toward the basket, then gravity-defying hang time to get his shot off in the midst of flailing arms.

"I know what he does," Cleveland State coach Rollie Massimino said. "He drives the ball very well and he's a great offensive rebounder. We worked very hard in preparation (for him)."

Apparently, not hard enough.

Cummings scored a career-high 28 on 12-for-16 shooting as the Seminoles snapped a two-game losing streak and began a critical four-game homestand with a 76-63 win Wednesday night before an announced 3,995 at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center.

"Hats off to my teammates for giving me the ball in the right scoring areas," said Cummings, whose best was 19. "Delvon Arrington is on me on and off the court about being a scoring threat at all times."

"I've been trying to tell him that he can be one of the scoring leaders in the ACC," said Arrington, FSU's senior point guard who played all 40 minutes and finished with 9 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. "He has the stroke. It's just his confidence that kind of messes him up. I told him, 'Once you get the confidence in your shot, man, there's not many people who are going to be able to handle you.' "

Cummings even made his first 3-pointer of the season after missing his first six attempts.

"I saw my chance, and thank God he gave me a chance to do it today," Cummings said.

"He's a very good player," said Massimino, who remains two wins shy of his 500th.

The Seminoles (4-4) needed not only Cummings to come through big time. They needed a clutch 3-pointer from Arrington and their finest defensive effort of the season down the stretch to avenge a double-overtime loss at Cleveland State last Dec. 19.

The Vikings (3-4) took a 60-55 lead on guard Jamaal Harris' fourth 3-pointer of the game with 8:01 left. Arrington tied it at 61 a couple minutes later as he just beat the shot clock with a 30-foot jumper.

"It was out there," Arrington said. "If I had tried dribble penetration, I think I would have got caught up, so I had it set in my mind that I was going to shoot it."

Massimino called it "major," but it wouldn't have been had the Seminoles not shut out his Vikings for the final 4:14. The Seminoles hit Cleveland State with a 21-3 run to end the game.

"Our halfcourt defense was good," FSU coach Steve Robinson said. "They were missing shots, we were boxing out and not giving them second and third shots at it and then we were able to get the ball to the offensive end. ... That's good basketball. We played really good basketball during that stretch."

NOTE: FSU reserve sophomore guard J.D. Bracy was suspended for Wednesday's game after violating an undisclosed team rule. Robinson said Bracy should be available for Saturday afternoon's game against American.

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