Dec. 17, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -Florida State’s Solomon Alabi was causing problems for Auburn even before the two teams took the court Thursday night. Then he made things even worse for the Tigers.
Alabi equaled a career high with 22 points to lead Florida State to a 76-72 win. The 7-foot-1 Nigerian was 7-for-10 from the field and 8 of 10 from the free throw line. He also led the Seminoles with nine rebounds.
“It’s hard to simulate what you’re going to get from him in practice,” said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. “You just can’t simulate that size and strength and length. When they need one they go to him.”
Alabi scored all but two of his points in the second half but got little help as the Seminoles (9-2) blew a 14-point lead. Alabi, in one stretch, scored nine straight points including a pair of free throws that broke the last of two second half ties at 63.
“All I was thinking when I got the ball was, ‘Feed that big man,'” said Michael Snaer, who scored 14 points for the Seminoles. “As soon as I got the ball I looked up and if I saw him open I was going right to him.”
Both of Auburn’s post players fouled out in the second half trying to guard Alabi. That forced Lebo to put in freshman Ty Armstrong. That didn’t go unnoticed by Alabi.
“I told Derwin (Kitchen), ‘This guy is a freshman. I’m going to show him some experience,'” said Alabi, himself only a sophomore.
The Tigers (5-5) held Alabi in check in the first half by double-teaming him when he got the ball.
“They were extremely physical and pushed him off the block,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. “He had a problem catching the ball.”
Alabi said he made some adjustments in the second half.
“I kind of understood the way they played,” he said. “Yes, I got more physical.”
Florida State twice pushed its lead to six points down the stretch, but Auburn closed the gap to three when Tay Waller banked in a desperation 3-pointer with 5 seconds to go. Kitchen, though, sealed the victory for Florida State by hitting one of two free throw attempts for the final margin.
Deividas Dulkys also had 14 points for Florida State.
Frankie Sullivan and DeWayne Reed scored 17 each for Auburn. Waller added 15 and Lucas Hargrove had 13.
Waller opened the game with a pair of 3s to give Auburn a 6-0 lead, but Florida State pulled out to a 33-25 edge at the half as Dulkys hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
It was one of three shots from beyond the arc that Dulkys hit, all in the first half, out of six attempts.
The victory extended the Seminoles’ home win streak to nine, including seven this season, in their final tune-up before beginning their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule Saturday at No. 22 Georgia Tech.