With Ian Miller in street clothes after suffering a turf toe injury (which is fitting, considering the touchdown saving tackle that caused it) and Michael Ojo battling a knee issue, Coach Hamilton was forced to try all sorts of strange combinations in the first round NIT matchup with Florida Gulf Coast. All three walk-ons played in the first half and Aaron Thomas never came out of the game.
Combine that with FSU shooting just 16-28 from the free throw line and the two teams combining for 35 turnovers, and you had the makings of a closely contested, ugly, game.
The Noles actually started beautifully, scoring nine points in the game's first five possessions. But from there it went south. Unable to score against the Eagles, the Noles turned to a rare thing this season: defense. For the game, FSU held FGCU to just 0.79 points per possession, which was their 2nd worst game of the year. For the half it meant that FSU held a 24-19 lead. For the game it meant that FSU was able to overcome a 6-point 2nd half deficit by getting a bunch of stops down the stretch.
The Eagles 3-headed attack of Bernard Thompson, Chase Fieler, and Brett Comer were held to just 12-30 shooting.
Despite the offensive struggles, FSU took the lead on an Okaro White dunk and never trailed in the game's final five minutes. The final score was 58-53.
Aaron Thomas led all scorers with 22, despite making just 6-11 FTs. Okaro White had 17 points and 7 boards. And Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon combined for 14 rebounds and 3 steals. One result from Okaro's big game is that it gives him at least one more game in an FSU uniform. This means he'll leave FSU as the all-time leader in games played.
Now the Noles will host Georgetown next Monday, as the Hoyas knocked off West Virginia 77-65.