Al Thornton's senior day gift: a 78-52 win

An FSU offensive balance snaps five-game losing streak.

Florida State has lost a few games this season when a 30-plus-point performance by Al Thornton wasn't enough to avoid the inevitable.

In those games, it was Thornton that had to carry the offensive load without much help.

Saturday against NC State, however, with their backs against the wall on a five-game losing streak, Thornton's teammates gave him an appropriate gift to celebrate the final home game of his career in Tallahassee: help.

Thornton scored 17 and three others reached double figures in a 78-52 victory over the Wolfpack that was highlighted by an offensive balance and a defensive presence from start to finish.

The Seminoles (18-11, 6-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) forced 19 turnovers and on the opposite end of the court shot just under 51 percent from the field.

"Our players played a lot more aggressive today and I think a lot of that is because of our respect for NC State," Hamilton said. "We recognized the fact that if we didn't go out and play aggressive and be active, they could score points on us."

The win put an end to a five-game skid that has put the 'Noles NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy. While the Tribe is still a long shot to receive a postseason bid to the Big Dance, Saturday's outcome certainly doesn't hurt.

"I just think we realized we had to be our very best," Hamilton said. "Everybody had to give whatever they had at this point in time. Our backs are up against the wall. Sometimes in life you have these challenges and they can make or break you and we are at a point where we can go either way."

If Florida State wants to continue on the path they chose Saturday, they must do so with the continued offensive balance.

Uche Echefu scored 13 and Isaiah Swann and Ralph Mims each added 12 apiece to assistant Thornton. Jerel Allen, who was also playing in his final regular-season home game, contributed with eight points.

"Everybody's got to step up. It can be anybody's night," Echefu said. "We just have to back (Thornton) up."

"We understand what Al has done for the whole team," Allen added. "He has carried us on his back for the season. We just wanted the team to get into a whole unity and a rhythm. Whenever we do that we play good and whenever we play Al, Al, Al we don't."

Saturday's outcome actually proved to FSU's third-largest margin of victory over an ACC opponent in program history. The last time a Seminole men's basketball team recorded such a lopsided victory over a league opponent was in 1995 when they defeated NC State 107-79.

Thornton, who registered five rebounds, three steals, one block and one assist to go along with his game-high in points, scored the Tribe's first basket on an emphatic slam dunk in the game's first minute.

He connected on his final 3-point attempt for a regular season game in the Tucker Center with just over a minute left to play in the second half.

"It was a special day," Thornton said. "I will never forget it. But we aren't done yet."

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