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FSU basketball beats Davidson in 1st round of NIT

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Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

After so many slow starts this season, we've become used to the Noles going down early. And that's exactly what happened against Davidson. The Wildcats landed the first punch, going up 9-4 and ended up leading for the first seven minutes.

But then the FSU offense got going, and at the same time the Noles' length and athleticism began to give Davidson fits. FSU took its first lead off a Jarquez Smith dunk at 13-12, and eventually pushed things out to a comfortable 26-20 lead with over five minutes in the half.

That's when Davidson - a team that really likes to get up and down - slowed the game to a crawl. It was an interesting strategy, and one that proved fruitful when the Wildcats drilled two late threes. FSU's offense got mostly good looks, but it was one of those stretches where the Noles couldn't buy a shot.

At the break the Noles led 30-26.

The 2nd half started with more of the same. The Noles struggled to score, but used surprisingly good rotations on the Davidson shooters to keep them from making a run. FSU couldn't separate and led 45-43 at the under-12 timeout.

That's when the FSU offense finally began to click.

For the rest of the way the Noles actually made some shots, they got into transition, and they began racking up the fouls and getting to the line. Davidson's Jack Gibbs - the 5th leading scorer in the nation - tried to keep them close but was held to just 6-17 shooting.

It looked like it was going to end in a blowout, but in the final minutes Davidson finally had their much anticipated stretch where they couldn't miss, and the final seemed closer than the actual game.

The Noles won 84-74 and advance to play at top-seeded Valparaiso Thursday.

Dwayne Bacon played an excellent game and led FSU with 23 points. Malik Beasley, who made the only 3-pointers of the night for FSU, scored 21. Devon Bookert and Terance Mann each had seven rebounds, and Bookert and Xavier Rathan-Mayes shared a game high five assists.