'Noles run past Michigan, into 3rd round

FSU's balanced offensive attack too much for the Wolverines as the Seminoles advance in NIT.

The last and only time that Florida State and Michigan met, the two programs were playing for the 1997 NIT Championship – a game the Wolverines were victorious in.

Thursday night, the Seminoles enacted a little decade-old revenge as they bounced back from a slow start to run away with a 87-66 victory. The win propels them into the third round of the NIT and a Tuesday matchup with the winner of Saturday's Mississippi State-Bradley game.

Typically, it doesn't bode well for Florida State when do-it-all forward Al Thornton only manages 11 points, but on a night when a season-high six players scored in double figures, the First-Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection didn't have to.

"He's a great player – I think that's probably the understatement of the year – but it shows you tonight that they are not a one-player team," Michigan Coach Tommy Amaker said. "Their balance tonight was tremendous."

The Seminoles (22-12, 7-9 ACC) couldn't find an offensive rhythm early and managed just eight points in the game's first nine minutes.

After falling behind 16-8, however, a Ralph Mims to Al Thornton alley-oop seemingly provided the wakeup call for the 'Noles and their fans and served as the launching pad for a 33-14 FSU run to close the half.

The Seminoles never looked back against a Michigan (22-13, 8-8 Big Ten) team that struggled to keep pace with FSU's athleticism and the balanced offensive attack.

"I thought all the players that played really showed a good focus," FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We didn't have the mental errors that we are accustomed to having."

Those errors were never more on display in February when FSU lost five straight games and never more absent when they won five of six prior to that slide.

The common demoninator? A healthy Toney Douglas, who missed four of those five-straight losses and five games in total with a broken hand before returning to the lineup in the regular-season finale against Miami earlier this month.

The Seminoles are 4-1 since his return and look more and more like the team that was making a name for itself in the ACC a month and a half ago.

"I felt pretty good tonight. I was having fun," said Douglas, who scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field. "We did everything good. (We) rebounded, played defense, we didn't turn the ball over that much. We all played together and I feel real comfortable."

Junior guard Isaiah Swann assisted Douglas with 15 points of his own while forward Uche Echefu and guard Jason Rich added 11. Reserve forward Casaan Breeden contributed a season-high 10 points, as well.

Eleven of the 12 Seminoles that played scored and the team posted 17 assists compared to just 14 turnovers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Michigan achieved six assists to go along with 21 turnovers. FSU netted 34 points off Wolverine miscues.

"Our offense just fed off our defense all night," Swann said. "When you are making plays on defense it leads to easy baskets going the other way and we did that."

Added Amaker: "I think their quickness, their speed just really gave us problems. I'd like to think that we did a lot to help them with 21 turnovers but they forced a lot."

Michigan was led by guard Dion Harris' 15 points.

Florida State led 41-30 at the break after Echefu connected on a 3-pointer from the corner with just over two seconds remaining. For the game, FSU shot 59.3 percent from the field compared to Michigan's 41.7 percent mark.


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