Florida State guard Dwayne Bacon is peaking at the right time.
With the Seminoles beginning Atlantic Coast Conference play on Saturday at Clemson, Bacon is the first Florida State freshman to have four straight games scoring 20 points or more.
He’s averaging 21.8 points while going 33 of 58 from the field and 16 of 21 from the line during that span. In Tuesday’s 73-71 win over Florida, Bacon scored 23, including the deciding points on a 10-foot jumper with 5 seconds remaining.
The 6-foot-7 guard is only the fifth ACC first-year player since 1996-97 to have four straight 20-point games and the first since Duke’s Jabari Parker had seven straight to begin his career in 2013, according to STATS.com.
“He seems to be growing up and making leaps and bounds in his confidence and his ability to make plays,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Over the past couple weeks he hasn’t forced much and allowed the offense to come to him.”
Bacon is fourth in the nation in freshman scoring at 17.8 points per game, trailing Rice’s Marcus Evans (19.9), LSU’s Ben Simmons (19.3) and Campbell’s Chris Clemons (18.1). Teammate Malik Beasley is eighth at 16.7 as the Seminoles are one of four teams in Division I to have two players averaging 12 points or more per game.
Bacon had an impressive start to the season. He scored 23 points in the opener against Nichols State, which was the most points by a Florida State freshman in his debut, and then had a season-high 27 in the next game, against Jacksonville.
He struggled, though, at the start of December, averaging 7.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in the first three games. He scored just two points and had two rebounds in a 17-point win over Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 13 before starting his current run.
One factor to Bacon getting back on track is he has been more aggressive driving to the rim. Besides continuing to capitalize on opportunities in the paint that has opened up more chances for midrange and perimeter jumpers. In the win over Florida, Bacon was five of eight on 3-pointers.
“Now teams will be more wary of me on the perimeter which should open things up for others,” Bacon said. “We’ve got a good mix of veterans and newcomers. Everyone can score just as well as I can.”
Florida State (10-2) is off to its best start since 2010-11 and has its first six-game win streak since late in the 2011-12 season, which was also the last time it made the NCAA Tournament.
“I’ve been cautiously optimistic about how things have gone so far especially with a young team,” Hamilton said. “They have done a nice job of maturing and understanding the frame of mind you need at this level. We still have a ways to go in other areas.”
After facing Clemson (7-6, 0-1 ACC), the Seminoles will play their first ranked team this season when they host No. 11 North Carolina on Monday. Three of Florida State’s first four conference games are on the road, which is the third time in 10 seasons that has happened.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.