Ham-ball Shuts Down the Irish. Noles Sweet-16 Bound.

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 20: Okaro White #10 of the Florida State Seminoles cheers for the team in the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The most telling portion of the game came at the 3:58 mark of the 2nd half when Notre Dame players, in the middle of a run to get back into the game, began chasing FSU players in a desperate attempt to foul just so they could sit and rest during the tv timeout. FSU’s defense, especially in the first half, completely stifled the Irish. The Noles were more physical and played with an effort and cohesion that Notre Dame clearly hadn’t faced this season. Having the #1 ranked defense in the country doesn’t mean you’re the best every night, but it does mean that when you’re focused you provide a unique challenge that can be as much physical as psychological. The Seminoles completely wore down a shallow Notre Dame team by exerting greater effort, and the Irish frustration showed throughout the night.

The Seminoles were able to take a double digit lead to halftime partially because of their defense, but also by hitting a remarkable 7-12 3-pointers. In the 2nd half they stretched the lead to 23 before Notre Dame made it’s run. But by the time they cut the lead to 12 they were completely gassed. Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough fouled out shortly after that, and the rout was on, with the Noles winning 71-57.

Bernard James had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He also notchd 2 blocked shots which officially lands him 2nd all time for a single season in that category for FSU. Michael Snaer added 13 points and 4 assists, while Okaro White and Derwin Kitchen were each in double figures with 10. Luke Loucks and Deividas Dulkys also both had very solid games.

Tim Abromaitis (21) and Ben Hansbrough (18) were the only Irish in double figures. The Noles held them to 31.7% shooting, including 21.3% from three.

The Seminoles advance to San Antonio to take on Virginia Commonwealth. It’s just the 4th time in program history to advance to the Sweet 16. The game will tip Friday at 9:57 EST.

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