Florida State opened its NCAA Tournament journey with a 67-54 victory over eight-seed Missouri on Friday night in Nashville, Tenn.
The Seminoles built a 22-point halftime lead, but had to fend off the Tigers in the second half. Missouri drew within six after a pair of free throws from freshman phenom Michael Porter Jr. with 9:53 left to play, but Florida State responded with a 15-0 run over the next four minutes, 25 seconds.
Florida State held Missouri to 32.7 percent shooting from the floor and only eight two-point baskets.
Neither of Florida State’s starters finished in double figures. The Seminoles’ bench scored 40 of the team’s 67 points. Redshirt freshman forward Mfiondu Kabengele lead the Seminoles with 14 points and 12 rebounds as a reserve. Sophomore guard Trent Forrest filled up the stat sheet, tallying 10 points, eight assists, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Florida State advances to play No. 1-seed Xavier on Sunday at 8:40 p.m. ET. The Musketeers eliminated the Seminoles in the Round of 32 last season.
Here is what Leonard Hamilton had to say after Friday’s victory:
On what his team did well:“I thought the story for the first half was our guys were connected defensively, and I thought their effort was as a result of respect we have for Missouri and some of the tapes we’ve seen, how well they execute. 44 percent of their shots were 3s, and they have such a potent low post game.
I thought our guys did a very good job defending the post and getting out in transition. We forced ten turnovers with 20 points off the bench and that really made a big difference and gave us a lot of energy and got everybody involved.
Second half, I thought they did a tremendous job coming out, denying spots on the floor. We didn’t handle it very well. Created some indecision on our part. I was proud of our guys. I thought they maintained their composure and settled down and we were able to extend the lead again.”
On what Trent Forrest brings to the table: “There’s no question that Trent does a very good job of distributing the ball and making good decisions. I think in order for him to be effective, he had to have teammates that really, really follow his lead.
We put four guys in the game there and we left Phil on the court, one of our most experienced players. And we were able to get some deflections and Trent was able to get us in and out of our systems.
I thought it was a team effort. Trent does a great job defensively, does a great job seeing the whole floor. He makes a tremendous difference when he’s on the floor.”
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