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March 24, 2014
Seminoles' Hot Shooting Beats Georgetown 101-90
Okaro White backpedaled, holding up three fingers after knocking down a long shot. Aaron Thomas followed up his three-pointer with another bomb. Ian Miller let his shooting hand linger in the air after a make of his own.
Florida State will be hanging around a little longer.
FSU's offense erupted in a 101-90 win over Georgetown on Monday night in the second round of the NIT on Monday night in Tallahassee to extend the season. The Seminoles (21-13, 9-9 ACC) advanced to the NIT quarterfinals past the Hoyas (18-15, 8-10 Big East), racking up their most points since a 106-62 win against Charlotte on Dec. 17.
"Obviously, you like to have the sum of all your parts working well" FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We haven't had very many games where everybody was playing well at the same time."
Florida State's starters didn't even miss a field goal until almost 14 minutes into the first half, when Thomas missed a 3-pointer. The Seminoles shot 64 percent from the field in the first half, then topped it by shooting 73.7 percent in the second half to finish at 68.2 percent on the night. FSU's starting lineup went 20-27 from the field, 7-8 from 3-point range and 30-38 at the free throw line.
Sophomore point guard Devon Bookert had the strongest performance. He had a career-high 21 points and tied a career high with nine assists on the night, shooting 8-10 from the field. He had just 18 points and eight assists in his last four games combined, and had only scored in double figures once in the last nine games.
It was a revelation for Bookert, who had bounced in and out of the starting lineup in his sophomore year. His up-and-down season is nearing an end, but it wouldn't come against the Hoyas.
"It's definitely still fun," Bookert said. "We made a goal that we wanted to make the NCAA Tournament, but we have to make the best of the opportunities we have."
Georgetown couldn't match that. Starters Mikael Hopkins and Jabril Trawick spent almost the entire night in foul trouble, and three more Hoyas finished with four or five fouls. All-Big East guards D'Vaunt Smith Rivera and Markel Starks scored 22 and 27 points on the night, respectively.
The Hoyas scored, shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. Things started to unravel in the second half when coach John Thompson III picked up a technical foul with 13:30 to go.
"They were making threes no matter what we threw at them," Thompson said.
Bookert wasn't the only sophomore to take a step forward. Thomas tied his career high with 26 points while also leading the Seminoles with six rebounds. Senior Ian Miller, who was a game-time decision, had 18 points while shooting 5-7 on the night, and Okaro White had 16 points on 5-7 shooting. White played in his 137th game as a Seminole, setting a new school record in the process.
The process is ending for those two, but there's still time for Thomas and Bookert to continue their progression.
"There's a big difference between (Thomas) being a freshman last year and a sophomore this year," Hamilton said. "Just growing up, learning, and knowing the process you have to go through. Before you can make progress, you have to go through the process.
"I think he's kind of going through the process of growing up and giving us great leadership."
FSU will play Louisiana Tech on Wednesday in the NIT quarterfinals. The winner advances to New York and the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden. Louisiana tech beat Florida State 71-66 in the first round of last year's NIT, ending the Seminoles' season.
"We couldn't end our seniors' (careers) well on Senior Night, with them playing their last regular season home game here," Thomas said. "We want to go out Wednesday and play hard for the seniors, send them out on a good note. It's their last game in the Civic Center."
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