It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy, but Florida State won its third game in as many nights Tuesday, defeating Southern Methodist 59-52 to conclude the 2006 Colonial Classic.
The Seminoles (3-0) trailed the Mustangs (2-1) 33-39 with just under 12 minutes to play in the game but rode the hot hand of guard Toney Douglas to victory. With All-ACC candidate Al Thornton banged up, Douglas, an Auburn transfer playing in just his third contest with FSU, posted 11 of his 14 points in the game's final eight minutes.
"That sucker was scoring some points and made it very difficult on us," said SMU Coach Matt Doherty, who is familiar with the style of play in the ACC from his days as a player and coach at UNC. "He is obviously a good player."
SMU cut the FSU lead to two with just 44 seconds left as forward Donatas Rackauskas hit a 3-pointer to make the score 54-52. The Seminoles then answered from the free throw line, hitting five of six shots from the charity stripe in the final 33 seconds.
"We've been kind of one dimensional down the stretch and it appears now when I look at our team that we have a lot of guys that are capable of scoring," FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I was pleased with our free throw shooting."
Despite being hampered with a slight hip injury that he sustained early in the second half, Thornton still led the 'Noles in points with 15 in 30 minutes of play.
He finished the game with a team-high seven rebounds, a steal, a block and an assist and is not expected to miss any action.
"I am going to be fine. It's a little sore but it's OK," Thornton said.
Guard Jon Killen led SMU with 15 points while Rackauskas added 13 and guard Derrick Roberts recorded 12.
Florida State jumped out to a 6-1 lead early in the game thanks to six straight points by Thornton. SMU was able to tie it at six points apiece before the Seminoles went on a 12-6 run. The Mustangs bounced back with a run of their own to take a 26-25 lead into halftime.
The Seminoles shot just 29.6 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 41.9 percent. FSU was 8-of-27 in the period with seven of their completed shots coming from behind the arc. Guard Jerel Allen was perfect from long range, hitting all three of his attempted 3-pointers for nine of his 11 total points.
"I've never been in a game in a half where all the baskets except one were a 3-pointer but I think that's who we are," Hamilton said.
FSU had 16 turnovers after committing 27 the night before.The Seminoles were outscored in the paint 24-12 and outrebounded 23-26. Starting center Uche Echefu didn't record a rebound.
"We are going to have to find a way to score baskets inside," Hamilton said.
Seminoles defeat SMU 59-52
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