TALLAHASSEE — Florida State players hinted that they could expect a frantic-paced game against Florida Gulf Coast. That is exactly what they got. Execution, however, was an issue.
Aaron Thomas scored 22 as top-seeded FSU opened the NIT with a 58-53 win against Florida Gulf Coast, last year's NCAA Tournament darlings known as Dunk City.
FSU (20-13) outlasted FGCU (22-13). The Seminoles were simply not as sloppy, committing 16 turnovers to the Eagles' 19.
Neither team could find an offensive groove and the Seminoles led 24-19 at halftime.The 19 points were the second-lowest scoring half of the season for the Eagles. FSU's 24 points tied for its fifth fewest in a half this season.
FGCU opened the second half on a 6-0 run that extended to a 15-4 stretch and a 34-28 lead. Thomas then carried the Seminoles, scoring 14 consecutive points during one stretch. The sophomore guard stepped up in the absence of senior guard Ian Miller, who missed the game with a toe injury.
"I didn't have a mind set of going out and trying to take over," Thomas said. "Thought I had to come in and be more aggressive and play harder.
"I had no idea I scored that many in a row. My teammates did a good job of finding me."
FSU scored 17 points off of turnovers, while the Eagles had just six points. The high number of turnovers kept both teams from getting out on fast breaks, as FGCU scored the game's only four fastbreak points.
Bernard Thompson led the Eagles with 16. Former Clearwater High standout Okaro White scored 17 for the Seminoles.
FSU will host No. 4 seed Georgetown (17-14) on Monday, with game time to be announced. The Hoyas beat West Virginia 77-65 on Tuesday, playing in front of a raucous 2,133 fans at their small on-campus practice gym because the Verizon Center is hosting a circus.