Jan. 24, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -Solomon Alabi wasn’t a bit worried as he stepped to the free throw line, his team trailing by a point with 22 seconds left.
Alabi, who may be the best 7-foot-1 free throw shooter around, made both of them – even though the first bounced high off the rim before dropping through the net. The second gave the Seminoles the lead over 19th-ranked Georgia Tech, which failed to score again.
“There’s no one we’d rather have up there,” coach Leonard Hamilton said after a 68-66 win, the Seminoles’ fifth straight over the Yellow Jackets. “He’s got ice water in his veins.”
Alabi, a redshirt sophomore who has made 83 percent (68 of 82) of his free throws this season, said he was confident largely because of a dedicated practice routine.
“I’ve done this so many times in practice,” said Alabi, who often will shoot 100 free throws in a session and made 50 of 54 in one particular hot stretch. “I tune everything else out.”
Alabi finished with 14 points and was perfect in six trips to the foul line for Florida State, (15-4, 3-2 ACC), which otherwise was just 10 of 21 at the stripe.
Georgia Tech (14-5, 3-3 ACC) got its last lead on Iman Shumpert’s jump shot with 1:27 left.
After Alabi’s free throws, Brian Oliver missed a 3-point try and Gani Lawal and Shumpert both missed opportunities to tie the game for Georgia Tech. Jordan DeMercy added a free throw in the closing seconds for the final margin.
“We were really impatient offensively,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, who has one of the youngest teams in the country with two freshmen and two sophomores starting.
“I was just trying to get the offense going,” said Singleton, who was rebounding from his worst game (two points) of the season in last week’s 63-58 win over Virginia Tech. “The coaches keep telling me to look for my shot.”
Lawal, Georgia Tech’s leading scorer, was held to a single field goal by the Seminoles for the second time this season.
“It’s like a barroom brawl inside,” Hamilton said. “Very aggressive.”
Hewitt noted Alabi’s presence inside as a factor.
“I’m not sure anybody in the country has a guy like him,” he said.
Oliver, another Tech freshman, came off the bench and hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-best 20 points while Derrick Favors added 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Aside from Alabi, both teams shot poorly from the free-throw stripe. Florida State was 16 of 27 with Singleton only 4 of 10, while Georgia Tech was 11 of 22.
Alabi and Singleton each had seven rebounds for the Seminoles, who had a 39-37 edge.
Besides 20 lead changes, there were 10 ties in the game, including 34-34 at halftime.
“I don’t think any loss or win in the ACC is an upset,” Hamilton said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how things pan out.”
It was a game of runs by both schools in the opening half with the lead changing eight times and the score tied another five occasions.
A trio of 3-point baskets by Oliver in a span of 71 seconds sparked a 14-2 Georgia Tech run, after the Seminoles had opened the game on their own 10-2 spurt.
Georgia Tech’s biggest lead in the first half came at 23-16 on a Shumpert layup.
Florida State defeated the Yellow Jackets 66-59 in an overtime thriller Dec. 20 at Atlanta in the ACC opener for both teams.