Nov. 12, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Al Thornton scored 17 points and Uche Echefu added 14 Sunday night as Florida State defeated McNeese (La.) State 85-65 at the opening round of the Colonial Classic in the first game of the year for both schools.
In the first game of the three-day round robin, Southern Methodist defeated Illinois State 57-55 on Devon Pearson’s tip-in on a missed shot as the buzzer sounded. It was also the first game of the year for them.
The Seminoles wiped out an early 11-point deficit and led by as many as 26 points in the second half.
Echefu’s successive 3-point baskets five minutes into the second half gave Florida State a 45-39 lead to spark a second half runaway.
McNeese, from the Southland Conference, jumped off to a 14-4 lead and built its advantage to 24-13 with 8:32 left in the half on Rorey Lawrence’s 3-point shot.
John Ford led the Cowboys with 19 points while Lawrence and Aldryan Wardell each scored 11. Wardell also had a game best eight rebounds.
Florida State, which was left out of last season’s NCAA tournament despite a 20-10 record, didn’t catch up until 1:28 left in the half on two Ralph Mims free throws.
Jason Rich’s short jumper with 26 seconds left in the half gave Florida State a 36-35 lead at the break.
Rich and Toney Douglas, a transfer from Auburn, scored 12 points apiece for the Seminole, who shot 53.3 percent from the floor despite a terrible start.
The Seminoles started ice cold, scoring just four points in the game’s first eight minutes.
Florida State meets Illinois State following the SMU-McNeese game in Monday’s second round.