In the preview we noted that this game wouldn't look anything like the FSU-Georgetown game that everyone loved. Playing LA Tech is like shaking up a bees nest and then spending 40 minutes trying to stay composed. They're 6th in the nation in steals, and they have one of the quickest teams in the nation.
FSU came out poised and controlled the press the best way there is - by getting stops. With no inbounds play it's almost impossible to pressure effectively in the back court, and the Noles were able to grind away on the Bulldogs and build a 20-10 lead. But then FSU's defense faltered, and the Louisiana Tech run was on. They weren't able to generate a bunch of turnovers, though they were able to speed FSU up and start forcing rushed shots. The Bulldogs tied the game 33-33 with a little over a minute left, and FSU scored the final four points of the half.
It was a 4-point advantage for FSU, which is the exact same margin the Noles held when these two teams met last year in the NIT.
The beginning of the 2nd half was a disaster. Not only did the pressure finally get to FSU, but Okaro White picked up three fouls in less than six minutes of game time, and had to go to the bench with four fouls. The turnovers began to pile up. After one by Jarquez Smith, Louisiana Tech took a 7-point lead with 13:40 to play and it looked like the season was slipping away.
That's when Aaron Thomas and Ian Miller stepped up. The duo would score the next ten Seminole points, and 16 of the next 19. FSU turned that 7-point deficit into a 7-point lead with 3:21 to play. From there the Noles did just enough to hang on. Montay Brandon had a chance to ice it at the line, but missed both, and LA Tech's desperation three missed at the buzzer.
Aaron Thomas had 21 points and 9 rebounds, Okaro White had 20 and 8, while Devon Bookert (11) and Montay Brandon (10) were also in double figures.
FSU now advances to Madison Square Garden where they'll face a rematch with Minnesota next Tuesday.