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Jackson helps FSU to NIT win

Randell Jackson has saved his best for the end of the season.

Jackson, a 6-foot-11 forward from Boston, had a game-high 16 points to lead Florida State to a 68-63 win Monday over Michigan State in the second round of the NIT. The Seminoles will play Wednesday at West Virginia at 7:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The Mountaineers advanced by beating North Carolina State 76-73.

Jackson, who is averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in his past four games, gave the Seminoles a boost in the first half, scoring 10 points. Jackson, who notched his third double-double in his past four games, matched a career high with 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in FSU's 82-67 win over Syracuse in the first round.

"I'm just stepping it up here at the end of the season," Jackson said. "I'm rebounding a lot better, and offensively, I'm really taking the ball to the basket."

Three FSU players scored in double figures, including center Kirk Luchman with 11.

Luchman, who has started eight straight games, scored 13 points and had seven rebounds against Syracuse. Sophomore LaMarr Greer added 11 Monday, making 4 of 9 from the floor.

Florida State went on a 20-6 run at the start. The Seminoles had five three-pointers in the first half, two by point guard Kerry Thompson, who finished with nine points.

The Spartans, however, countered with a 14-0 run, tying the score at 20 with 7:14 remaining in the first half. Six Seminoles scored in the first half.

"We're just improving each game," Thompson said. "We're more relaxed (since) we're not trying to fight for the NCAAs and a lot more pressure is relieved from us."

FSU did have trouble, however, with Michigan State's 1-2-2 defense. The Spartans had seven steals and caused nine FSU turnovers.

"The most difficult thing about this game was we faced a defense we haven't played against all year," Kennedy said. "It's a tough little zone to come up with ways to beat it."

The Seminoles, playing in the post-season for the first time in four years, have won six of their past seven. Coach Pat Kennedy notched his 200th career win, becoming the third coach in school history to reach that mark.

Senior guard Ray Weathers made a three with 1:19 remaining, pulling Michigan State to within 60-59.

But Greer responded with a three-pointer with 1:04 remaining.

"He's made some of those shots over the course of his career," Kennedy said. "He's a veteran now, and he doesn't shy away from those types of opportunities."

Greer, who finished with 11 points, is averaging 10.1 points in his last seven games.

Jackson also had two key rebounds down the stretch and made a couple of free throws to seal the victory.

"I thought it was a good basketball game," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "Corey Louis made some big plays, but LaMarr Greer's three-pointer was really the back-breaker."

Florida State guard Geoff Brower suffered an injury to his right knee in the first half and is expected to miss the rest of the post-season.

Brower, a sophomore from Fort Walton Beach, suffered the injury when he was knocked to the floor as he attempted a layup. After lying on the court for several minutes, he was helped to the locker room and did not return.

Brower is scheduled to have an MRI examination today, but Kennedy said it didn't look good and that Brower is not expected to be back.

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