Down 8 in the 2nd half, with FSU’s season on the brink, the Noles went to a zone defense and then called on Bernard James, Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer to deliver enough offense for a win. FSU began to clear space for James to operate, and when Texas A&M overplayed him Kitchen and Snaer took advantage and drove the Aggies smaller guards into the lane for easy baskets. The result was a 34-19 run over the final 16 minutes, and FSU won 57-50.
This is coach Leonard Hamilton’s 1st NCAA Tournament win in 9 seasons at FSU, and the first FSU win since 1998.
Despite holding the Aggies scoreless for nearly 6 minutes to start the game, FSU struggled and trailed at halftime 26-23. The problems were common: turnovers (27% of our 1st half possession), poor ball movement, and an ill advised reliance on the 3 pointer. The Noles were 1-9 from 3 in the first half. The 2nd half was a different story with the Seminoles only attempting 6 three pointers, and all of them were within the flow of the offense. FSU scored 34 points on 29 2nd half possessions against a solid defensive team.
Derwin Kitchen led FSU with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Bernard James had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots including an emphatic spike at the 2:32 mark with A&M trying to make a run. His blocked shot total is now 75 on the season, which ties him for 2nd All-Time. Chris Singleton played his first minutes since the Virginia game, and added 5 points including a key 3-pointer, as well as his typical disrupting defense.
The Noles return to action on Sunday to take on 2-seed Notre Dame, who will be playing in front of a packed and partisan crowd.