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Florida State defeated Auburn 76-72 Thursday night behind 22 points from sophomore center Solomon Alabi. Alabi scored 20 points in the second half and also recorded nine rebounds in the victory.
By the time Alabi was done, Auburn's top two post players were on the bench with five fouls apiece.
"He fouled out both of our post guys; we had a freshman in there at the end of the game trying to guard him," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "He's big down in there. It's hard to simulate what you're going to get from him in practice. You just can't simulate that size and strength and length. And when they need one, they go to him. He's an outstanding player."
Said FSU guard Michael Snaer: "All I was thinking every time I got the ball was feed that big man in the middle. That's all I was thinking: Feed the big guy down low. And he came through for us."
Alabi, who has now scored at least 20 points in three of the Seminoles' last four games, delivered an assortment of big plays Thursday. But none was bigger than his conventional three-point play with just over one minute remaining.
The Seminoles were clinging to a 69-67 lead when Alabi grabbed the ball in the post, spun away from a double-team and connected on a short jump shot. He was fouled on the play and hit a free throw to put FSU ahead by five.
"It's really important that when I get the ball down there, I've got to make the shot," Alabi said. "I got more physical because I figured out it's not going to be an easy win for us."
At the half, the Seminoles held a 33-25 lead, and extended it to as many as 14 points with 13:34 remaining in the second half before the Tigers made a run and tied the game. The final tie was 63-63 with 4:41 remaining.
Freshman guard Michael Snaer and sophomore guard Deividas Dulkys each contributed 14 points for the Seminoles (9-2).
Senior guard Dewayne Reed and sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan had 17 points each for the Tigers (5-5). Senior guard Tay Waller had 15 points and senior forward Lucas Hargrove has 13 points.
The Seminoles were 23-for-47 from the floor, 6-for-15 from deep, and 24-for-34 at the line, but had 25 fewer shot attempts than the Tigers (26-for-72). Auburn attempted 39 three-pointers.
"We're not going to score inside against them, I know that," Lebo said. "Not many people are."
Florida State committed 19 turnovers in the game, including 12 in the first half.
Florida State will start ACC play on Sunday when the travel to Georgia Tech for a 5:30 p.m. tip.