Florida State, which has defeated Toledo and Michigan in the first two rounds of the 2007 MasterCard NIT, travels to play at Mississippi State in the quarterfinal round of the event on Tuesday March 20 at 6 p.m. CT. The Seminoles and the Bulldogs meet in the quarterfinal round of the 32-team event with a spot in the national semifinals going to the winner. The semifinals (March 27) and championship game (March 29) of the 2007 MasterCard NIT will be played in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Florida State enters its game against Mississippi State having won five of its last six games with two coming to close the regular season (against Miami and NIT participant NC State), Clemson (another NIT participant) in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament and in the NIT against Toledo and Michigan. The Seminoles' 5-1 record since Feb. 24 has given them a 22-12 record – marking the first time under fifth-year Head Coach Leonard Hamilton and ninth time in school history they have won at least 22 games in a single season. Florida State also enters Tuesday's game against Mississippi State set to play its 35th game of the season – tying the school record of 35 which came during the 1992-93 (25-10 record). The winner of Tuesday's game between Florida State and Mississippi State will play the winner of Tuesday night's game between West Virginia and NC State in the NIT semifinals on March 27 at either 7 or 9 p.m.
All-AMERICAN AL THORNTON CONTINUES TO LEAD FLORIDA STATE
All-America candidate, All-ACC First-Team selection and ACC Player of the Year runner-up Al Thornton is averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the first two games of the 2007 MasterCard NIT in leading the Seminoles into the third round of the event for only the second time in school history. Thornton enters Tuesday's game against Mississippi State averaging an ACC-leading and career-high 19.8 points per game – he has scored a near school record 674 points this season. The single-season school record is 742 points by Jim Oler during the 1955-56 season. He has scored in double figures in all 34 games this season and is looking to become the first Seminole player since Sam Cassell during the 1992-93 season to score in double figures in each game of a given season.
LOOK FOR FLORIDA STATE TO…
…Defeat Mississippi State and advance to the semifinals of the 2007 MasterCard NIT. It would mark the second time in school history the Seminoles have advanced at least as far as the semifinals of the postseason NIT. The Seminoles advanced to the championship game of the 1997 NIT before falling to Michigan in the title game;
…Defeat Mississippi State and win its 23rd game of the season. The Seminoles have won at least 23 games four times in school history – most recently during the 1992-93 season as they advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. The school record for wins in a season is 27 by the Hugh Durham-led NCAA national finalist Seminole team during the 1971-72 season;
…Defeat Mississippi State and gain its second win over an SEC team this season. The Seminoles defeated Florida (Dec. 3, 70-66) for one of their signature wins during the season;
…Defeat Mississippi State and gain its second consecutive win in the state of Mississippi against a team from Mississippi. The Seminoles won at Ole Miss (61-60) on Dec. 3, 2003.
FLORIDA STATE CLIMBING LIST FOR TEAM WINS IN A SEASON
Florida State enters Tuesday's game against Mississippi State looking to earn a win over the Bulldogs and earn its 23rd victory of the season. The Seminoles' have earned 22 victories while playing one of the nation's top-25 ranked schedules – a total that is tied for the fifth highest in school history. Florida State averages 17.4 victories a season under Leonard Hamilton and have won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons when they earned 22 and 25 wins respectively in advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament in both seasons.
FLORIDA STATE'S TEAM TOTAL IN THE SEMINOLE RECORD BOOK…
…Florida State enters Tuesday's game against Mississippi State shooting a current school record .764 from the free throw line. The Seminoles are ranked first in the ACC and fifth in the nation in the free throw shooting percentage category;
…Florida State has made 226 3-point field goals and averages 6.6 made shots from the bonusphere. The Seminoles' total from long range is the second-highest single-season total in school history. The total ranks second behind the 296 3-point field goals made by the 200-4 Florida State team which advanced to the second round of the NIT;
…Florida State is shooting .375 from the 3-point line – the fifth highest percentage from beyond the arc in school history. The school record for 3-point field goal percentage is .437 during the 1987-88 season when the Seminoles advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament;
…Florida State has scored 2,536 points and averages 74.6 points scored per game. The Seminoles' 2,536 points is the sixth highest team point total in school history. The single-season school record for points scored is 3,020 during the 1992-93 season when the Seminoles advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.
SEMINOLES LEAD ACC AND RANKED FIFTH NATIONALLY IN FREE THROW PCT.
Florida State enters the third round of the NIT against Mississippi State ranked FIRST in the ACC and FIFTH in the NATION in free throw shooting percentage. The Seminoles are on school record pace and are looking to lead the ACC in free throw shooting for the first time ever with their .7644 mark from the line. Florida State has been ranked among the nation's leaders throughout the season and was ranked No. 1 for two weeks during the month of February.
FLORIDA STATE SHOOTING THE BALL WELL IN THE NIT
Florida State enters Tuesday's game against Mississippi State shooting an outstanding .607 from the field, .440 from the 3-point line, .700 from the free throw line and averaging 82.0 points in two NIT victories. The Seminoles are shooting better from both the field overall and the 3-point line and averaging more than seven points more per game than they have for the entire season.
With steals from nine different players leading to 15 total steals in their victory over Michigan, the Seminoles enter Tuesday's game against Mississippi State averaging 11.0 steals in two NIT games. The Seminoles' 15 steals against Michigan rank as a season-high and were the most since earning 15 in a victory over Nebraska on Dec. 31, 2005.
FLORIDA STATE VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE – THE LAST GAME
Ron Hale scored 10 of his 17 points during a 17-5 run in the second half and Florida State had to hold off a furious Mississippi State rally down the stretch Tuesday to post a 69-58 victory over the Bulldogs in the consolation round of the Rainbow Classic on Dec. 29, 1998 in Honolulu. Hale's work helped the Seminoles to a 54-36 lead with 7:55 left, but the Bulldogs stormed back with their own drive, outscoring Florida State, 20-3, over the next 5:11 to make it a 1-point game, 57-56. Joe Marshall knocked down three 3-pointers and Tyrone Washington, held to three points in the first half, added seven during the rally. Florida State then closed out the game by making 8-of-10 free throws over the final 2:09, while holding the Bulldogs to a basket. Terrell Baker added 16 points for the Seminoles with Adrian Crawford and Damous Anderson each getting 10. For Mississippi State, Washington finished with 16 to go with eight rebounds. A cold first half (six-for-25) hurt the Bulldogs as Florida State took a 29-18 halftime lead. Washington and Tang Hamilton, Mississippi State's top two scorers, were held for a combined 1-for-10 during that stretch.
FLORIDA STATE'S JONES WAS A MISSISSIPPI STATE ASSISTANT COACH
Stan Jones, Florida State's Associate Head Coach, was an assistant coach under Rick Stansbury at Mississippi State during the 2001-02 season. The Bulldogs finished with a 27-8 record, won the SEC Tournament championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament that season.
Game day: FSU vs. Miss. St. NIT 3rd round
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