Third-seeded Florida State survives vs. Florida Gulf Coast

JU forward J.R. Holder knocks the ball away from FGCU guard Christian Terrell during a game in February

JU forward J.R. Holder knocks the ball away from FGCU guard Christian Terrell during a game in February

"I think ... one of the things that makes this tournament so special and March Madness such an exciting event is that every game is huge".

The sophomore shooting guard scored a team-high 25 points and added nine rebounds to lead No. 3 seed Florida State to a 86-80 win over No. 14 seed Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday night in Orlando's Amway Center. "That's part of being on this stage". FSU is averaging 82.5 points per game, the most by a Hamilton squad.

FGCU finished its season at 26-8 while Florida State advanced to face 11th-seeded Xavier, which beat sixth-seeded Maryland, on Saturday. Zach Johnson chipped in 17 points, five assists and four rebounds. "Hopefully, we'll be a little more relaxed as we move on". "So I just try to run as hard and play as hard as I can, and my teammates found me when I did". I'm not expecting him to play.

The third-seeded Florida State Seminoles don't care that No. 14 seed Florida Gulf Coast was a fun upset pick.

Dwayne Bacon impressed early and often, scoring 16 points in the first half, the last six (which included a ridiculous tomahawk slam) giving FSU a comfortable lead heading into half.

Despite having some open looks down the stretch, the Eagles triples' just wouldn't fall, with five three-point attempts going in-and-out of the basket. "Because of that growth spurt, Jonathan was afforded the chance to see the game through a different lens and still keep the skill set he had from when he started playing basketball".

The players from Florida Gulf Coast, the darlings of the 2013 NCAA Tournament with their high-flying "Dunk City" act that raged its way into the Sweet 16, insisted before Thursday's first-round game against Florida State they wanted to make their own mark. One of the most impressive plays of the half came a few possessions later when Goodwin drove to the rim, made a layup while twirling after making contact with a defender and drew a foul. That's how he wound up leading the Seminoles in rebounds (7.7 a game) and blocks (48).

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"First off, I want to give credit to Florida State", said Eagles coach Joe Dooley. "We always pulled each other together, and we talked to one another". We're proud of our guys. "And my first year is when we started to take off".

Bacon ensured the Eagles' year wouldn't continue despite their gritty effort.

But Bacon made a pair of driving layups to end the half, and a 36-36 tie in the final minutes turned into a 40-36 halftime lead for FSU.

Hamilton said he wouldn't mind more efficiency. "(FGCU) mixed their defenses up, man-to-man and zone.

"Again, you're up 12 in the second half against a really good (Vanderbilt) team - a team that had Kentucky down 19 at Rupp not too long ago", White said.

Going against the second-tallest team in the nation presented a formidable obstacle for FGCU, but it increased in difficulty significantly when ASUN Defensive Player of the Year Demetris Morant exited the game for good in the opening minutes of the second half with a right ankle injury. He did not return.

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