Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FSU plays Minnesota in NIT semifinal

Florida State's Aaron Thomas dunks during an ACC Tournament game against Virginia.

Getty Images

Florida State's Aaron Thomas dunks during an ACC Tournament game against Virginia.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State has never won a national postseason tournament. The Seminoles have played in nine consecutive tournaments, including four straight NCAA appearances and five in the NIT — each has ended in a loss.

Playing in this year's NIT was a letdown for a team with NCAA tournament aspirations. The Seminoles (22-13) ended up as the top seed in the NIT and are in the semifinals for the first time since 1997. They face No. 1 seed Minnesota (23-13) tonight.

"You don't ever want to say 'backs against the wall,' but we got in a situation where we wanted to finish the season strong, wanted to have the opportunity to participate in a postseason tournament regardless," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We're playing with more sense of urgency, we're focused.

"We have a lot of room for improvement, but I think we can all visually see that the body language is different, the effort, intensity, their communication on the court is different."

FSU has been known for its defense under Hamilton, but opponents averaged nearly 75 points each game during a 3-7 ACC slump in January and February. Neither Hamilton nor the players can pinpoint exactly what changed. A sophomore-dominated roster matured and Aaron Thomas evolved into the most consistent scorer. The effort and aggressiveness seemed to increase and the 71.1 points per game are the most since 2007-08.

The Seminoles have won seven of their last nine, allowing just under 70 points per game.

"There is no room for error," said forward Okaro White, a former Clearwater High standout. "We're just trying to make the most of this opportunity."

White grew up in New York before leaving for Clearwater. His memories of Madison Square Garden are limited.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I went there as a real young kid. But since I've grown up I haven't been there," he said. "I'm just as pumped up as everyone else who never played there before. It's one of the great experiences of your life as a basketball player to play there.

"And to be playing for a championship, that's huge. I've talked to all my teammates. Coming to New York, period, is huge."

The Seminoles lost to the Gophers 71-61 in early December. Minnesota finished seventh in the Big Ten.

"We're a totally different team from how we were back then," guard Ian Miller said. "We're in it, so might as well win it."


What: FSU vs. Minnesota, 9, Madison Square Garden, New York.

TV/radio: ESPN2, 1040-AM

At stake: The winner advances to Wednesday's championship game against SMU or Clemson, who play at 7 (ESPN2).

FSU plays Minnesota in NIT semifinal 03/31/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 10:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. As NCAA investigation continues, Baylor dances around sex-assault scandal


    In 1996, Southern Baptist-affiliated Baylor University lifted its 151-year-old ban and allowed dancing on its Waco, Texas campus.

  2. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  5. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399