Noles Pull Out 78-75 Victory

Noles Pull Out 78-75 Victory

Florida State is headed to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals after a 78–75 win over Louisiana Tech.

Florida State advances to the Semifinals of the NIT after the 78-75 victory over Louisiana Tech. The Seminoles dominated the game early and had a 10-point lead after only six minutes in the first half. Louisiana Tech would battle back to take the lead late in the first half, but a Seminole run at the end put the Seminoles up by 4 at the break. The Bulldogs brought out the press on Florida State early in the second half forcing turnover after turnover to take the lead. Florida State wasn't able to take the lead until late in the game as Aaron Thomas took over. Florida State had a 7-point lead with under a minute to go, but bad possessions and missed free throws allowed Louisiana Tech a chance to send the game to overtime on a last second shot that hit the rim and bounced away.

In his final home game Okaro White was hot early. He finished the first half with 14 points, but got in early foul trouble and only played 22 minutes of the game, but finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds. White was very emotional after the game about playing his last home game.

"It was amazing," White said. "The emotional side didn't hit me till after the game. Me and Robert [Gilchrist] we got pretty emotional. I love the fans here. I love everything they have done for me and I appreciate them."

White was also very excited about playing his last games in New York, the state he grew up in.

"It is very special for my last games to be played in New York where it all started," White said. "It will be good for [my family] to see me play my last games up in New York."

Once White got into foul trouble the Seminoles leading scorer Aaron Thomas put the team on his back. Thomas scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half and also posted 9 rebounds. This was Thomas' third game in a row in which he scored 20 points or more, but he doesn't think it is that important.

"I just got to stay focused," Thomas said. "Not worry about my stats. Just worry about what's next and move forward to win something here."

Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon added double-digit points as well for the Seminoles tonight. Florida State shot 44.8 percent from the field, but 58.3 percent from the 3-point line. The Seminoles were also about to outrebound the Bulldogs 43-36. The Florida State defense did a very good job limiting the 3-pointer which Louisiana Tech was known for. They went 7-25 for an abysmal 28 percent from behind the arc. What kept them in the game was the efforts of Kenneth "Speedy" Smith who posted a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Smith was able to use his incredible quickness to get to the basket and really put the pressure on the Seminoles late.

Florida State will move on to play in New York Tuesday against Minnesota. The Gophers defeated the Seminoles 71-61 on their home court back in early December.

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