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November 17, 2013
FSU rolls over UT-Martin, 89-61
Florida State got one heck of a lift off the bench on Sunday.
Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas poured in a combined 39 points to spark FSU's runaway 89-61 win against UT-Martin. Both players finished with career highs in scoring, and Miller was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field.
The pair came off the bench Sunday after being suspended for the entire preseason and for the first half of the season opener, but wasted no time in jump-starting FSU's offense.
Subbing in at the 17:41 mark of the first half, Miller immediately drained a three-pointer. Thomas assisted on that play and then stole the ball to set up Montay Brandon for a layup on the next possession.
"Once I got in it was just open," Miller said. "I hit one and then the rim was just wide open to me. Our job coming off the bench was just to be aggressive and pick the tempo up. I call my group the tempo group."
Miller and Thomas did lead the way with 20 and 19 points, respectively, and provided a scoring lift whenever FSU (3-0) needed a it.
When UT-Martin (1-4) took a brief lead with 11:31 left in the first half, Miller again had the answer. The senior responded with a layup just 24 seconds later and sparked a 20-4 run to put the game firmly in FSU's control. Even when UT-Martin closed to within 12 points with 13:04 to play, Thomas and Miller kept the game out of reach with a layup and three free throws, respectively.
Miller said his memories of lopsided losses last season made it easy for him to keep the food on the gas.
"Last year when teams got a chance to beat us by 20, they beat us by 20 or 30," Miller said. "So it's still in my mind, last year. Any chance we get to pound a team I want to do that. As a team we all bought in to that. We want to keep the tempo up until coach takes us out."
Miller and Thomas weren't the only hot hands for FSU. The Seminoles finished shooting 58.7 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from three-point range. FSU also forced 19 turnovers from UT-Martin with 11 steals. Thomas led the way with six takeaways.
"Aaron's taken an awful lot of pride in hoping to become an elite defender," FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "This is challenging him more because of the way the game's being called now."
Hamilton said he was pleased with FSU's defensive effort, as Sunday was the fewest points allowed by the Seminoles this season. And with 46 bench points, Hamilton emphasized the versatility and depth of the rotation.
"I think we really don't have a starting lineup," Hamilton said. "We have a starting nine. This is a team that really needs to win by committee. That's what you see happening."
That depth will be tested soon as Florida State hits the road next week to Puerto Rico and a matchup with No. 14 Virginia Commonwealth.
"You look at some schedules across the country and you know they'll be okay in late December. All these games are challenging for us," explained Hamilton. "We have a lot of young guys that are improving. You try to fine-tune all the execution offensively and defensively and there's a lot that goes in to that. … But while you're doing that you're playing against some of the top teams in the country."
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