By JOE REEDY
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A healthy Devon Bookert has helped Florida State’s perimeter game get back on track.
Going into Saturday’s game against Clemson, the senior leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in 3-point percentage in league games, hitting 56.8 percent from beyond the arc (21 of 37). In nonconference play, the 6-foot-2 guard was 12 of 47 (25.5 percent) on 3-pointers as he was hampered by a wrist injury.
"I think there are stretches (the past three seasons) where I have shot better, but this is a nice stretch," Bookert said. "My teammates have been doing a great job of finding me once I get to the basket. I just have to be ready to shoot and have my feet set."
When Bookert’s wrist was bothering him, he would get a shot to help the swelling go down. Coach Leonard Hamilton said Bookert sprained his wrist four times early in the season, including once when diving for a loose ball. Bookert wouldn’t use the injury as an excuse, but Hamilton definitely saw points where it affected Bookert’s accuracy.
Despite the early-season struggles with injuries, Hamilton called Bookert his most consistent player.
"He’s played with the same level of focus even when his shot wasn’t falling," Hamilton said. "He’s learning and matured. He’s accepted the role we’ve given him and it hasn’t bothered him."
Bookert’s 42.4 percent accuracy on 3-pointers is eighth in ACC history. He is 16 points shy of becoming the 14th player in school history to reach 1,000 points for his career.
Besides being healthy, Bookert said he has made some technical adjustments as he has put more arc into perimeter shots to make sure there is better rotation. He also said that instead of taking 250 shots after practice, he has cut that down to 140, taking 20 shots apiece from seven locations.
Bookert isn’t the only one who has been shooting well from long range of late. Florida State is averaging 6.3 3-pointers per game in its last 10 and has made at least six of seven in its last 10. In an 84-75 loss at Clemson on Jan. 2, the Seminoles were 9 of 24. Bookert scored a season-high 21 points in that game, which was one point off tying a career high, as six of his seven field goals were 3-pointers.
Florida State is coming off a 72-62 win at Boston College but has struggled in conference play, going 3-5. The Seminoles (13-7) will play two games in three days for the second time in conference play as they host North Carolina State on Monday.
Clemson is also 13-7 but is a surprising 6-2 in the ACC. With Florida State near the midway point in conference play, Hamilton knows this is an important stretch.
"If we are going to dig out of this ditch every game is important," he said. "We can’t get into a whole lot of philosophical analysis at this point. Every game is important if we are going to have any postseason life."
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