The 4th-seeded Florida State Seminoles dominated the 12th-seeded Murray State Racers 90-62 in Hartford, Connecticut, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight season. The 28-point deficit was the largest this season for the Racers.
The Seminoles started off slowly, allowing the Racers to take a 14-7 lead after Ja Morant dropped in three early three-pointers (despite entering the contest shooting 33.4% from beyond the arc, he made 5-5 in the first half). Murray State’s packed crowd soon settled down, as the Seminoles closed the half on a 43-20 run, getting contributions from all 10 available scholarship players (injuries to Seniors Phil Cofer and David Nichols). At the half, the scoreboard read 50-34, Seminoles, after Leonard Hamilton’s squad didn’t allow a field goal for the final 4:46.
Florida State’s defensive dominance continued well into the second half, as the Racers FG woes continued for the first 3:06 (7:52 total going back to first half). The Seminoles did exactly what they said they had to do in order to take down Murray State; limit Morant’s passing game. Morant had just four assists after being responsible for 52% of Murray State baskets when he’s on the floor this year. That is highest rate in college basketball in five years.
The Seminoles’ deep bench gave them a huge competitive advantage over Murray State. Florida State had 47 points off the bench compared to the Racers’ six. The FSU effort was led by redshirt sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele. Kabengele scored 22 points and had 7 rebounds. He was followed by Senior Terance Mann who scored 18 points, while adding 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Redshirt freshman Raiquan Gray was also in double-digits putting together a career-high performance scoring 11 points and 5 steals.
After struggling early on and pressing to pull off a victory for Cofer (whose dad passed away earlier this week), the Seminole squad came together and put together a performance that was indeed for more:
Florida State will play Gonzaga in Anaheim Thursday night.