March 29, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Florida State, which has defeated Florida Gulf Coast, Georgetown and Louisiana Tech in the first three rounds of the 2014 NIT, travels to Madison Square Garden in New York City to play Minnesota in the semifinals of the 32-team tournament. It marks the second time in school history the Seminoles have played in the NIT Semifinals after advancing to the championship game in 1997. Florida State enters Tuesday’s game against Minnesota having won seven of its last nine games since winning at Pitt on February 23 (71-66) and eight of its last 11 since topping Wake Forest on the road on February 15 (67-60). The winner of Tuesday’s game between Florida State and Minnesota will meet the winner of the first NIT semifinal game between Clemson and SMU. The Seminoles split their regular season series against Clemson with each team winning on its opponents’ home court (Florida State in Clemson on January 9, 56-41, and Clemson in Tallahassee on February 1, 53-49). Should the Seminoles and Tigers meet on Thursday night in New York it will have been 61 days since the two teams last met. If the Seminoles advance to play SMU, it will mark only the second meeting (and first since November 14, 2006) that the two teams have played each other.
Aaron Thomas IN THE NIT
Sophomore Aaron Thomasis playing as well as any player in college basketball entering the NIT Semifinals. He has scored at least 21 points in all three of the Seminoles’ NIT games and is averaging 23.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 39 minutes a game while shooting .548 from the field and .500 from the 3-point line. Thomas scored a career-high tying 26 points in the Seminoles’ win over Georgetown, 22 in their win over Florida Gulf Coast and 21 in its quarterfinal clinching victory over Louisiana Tech. Thomas has scored 38 of his 69 NIT points in the second half of the Seminoles’ three games including 14 points in the second half of Florida State’s come-from-behind victory over Louisiana Tech. He is three of five (.600) from 3-point range in the second half of the Seminoles’ three NIT games. Thomas is tied for the team lead with a 6.3 rebounds per game average in the NIT including a nine-rebound performance (four in the second half) against Louisiana Tech.
Aaron Thomas HAS ELEVATED HIS GAME IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON
Sophomore Aaron Thomasenters Tuesday’s game against Minnesota having scored in double figures in 16 straight games – he is averaging 17.6 points scored per game since scoring 12 points at NC State on January 29. He has scored 282 points (17.6 ppg) and is shooting .440 from the field, .362 from the 3-point line and .806 from the free throw line. During that span of 16 games in which he has not scored fewer than 12 points in any single game, he is averaging 35.2 minutes played per game, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
THOMAS AS A SEMINOLE STARTER
Since moving into the Seminoles’ starting line-up against Virginia Tech on February 5 against Virginia Tech, sophomore Aaron Thomasis averaging 18.4 points per game, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting .444 from the field and .363 from the 3-point line.
WHITE ENJOYING THE BEST SEASON OF HIS CAREER
Senior Okaro Whiteenters Tuesday’s game against Minnesota averaging a career-high 13.5 points per game, a career-high and team leading 6.6 rebounds per game and a career-high and team-leading 1.1 blocked shots per game. He has scored at least 20 points four times in the last nine games and tied his career-high 24 points in Florida State’s victory over Boston College on March 4.
LOOK FOR FLORIDA STATE TO…
…Defeat Minnesota and advance to the championship game of the NIT for the second time in school history. Florida State fell to Michigan, 82-73, on March 17, 1997 in Madison Square Garden; …Defeat Minnesota and defeat the Gophers in a national tournament for the second time in school history. The Seminoles topped Minnesota, 70-56, in the Sweet 16 of the 1972 NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles, under Hugh Durham, advanced to the NCAA Championship game where it fell to UCLA and John Wooden 81-76.
FLORIDA STATE’S WIN TOTAL IN THE LAST NINE YEARS
Florida State is the third winningest program in the ACC in the last nine years (since the start of the 2005-06 season) in total games played with 196 wins. The Seminoles average 21.7 wins per season with records of 20-10 (2005-06), 22-13 (2006-07), 19-15 (2007-08), 25-10 (2008-09), 22-10 (2009-10), 23-11 (2010-11), 25-10 (2011-12), 18-16 (2012-13) and 22-13 (2013-14).
FLORIDA STATE IN ACC PLAY IN THE LAST SIX SEASONS
In the last six seasons (through the 2014 regular season), Florida State is 62-39 (.614 winning percentage) and has finished in third place in the league standings three times in regular season ACC play. The Seminoles average 10.2 ACC regular season wins per season and have finished in the top four of the ACC standings four times in the last six seasons. Florida State is third in the ACC in conference wins with 62 and third in winning percentage at .614.
FLORIDA STATE MAKING NINTH CONSECUTIVE POSTSEASON APPEARANCE
The Seminoles’ participation in the 2014 NIT marks the school-record ninth consecutive postseason appearance for the Seminoles – all under 12th year Head Coach Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles have appeared in the NIT in six seasons under Hamilton (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2014) and made a school-record four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 2009-2012. With its appearance in the 2014 NIT, Florida State has made 23 postseason appearances with nine coming under the direction of Hamilton – the most of any coach in Florida State basketball history.
FLORIDA STATE PLAYING FOR 23 WINS
Florida State enters its game against Minnesota looking to earn its 23rd win of the season. A victory over Minnesota on Tuesday would give Florida State at least 23 wins in a season for the sixth time under head coach Leonard Hamilton. Prior to Hamilton’s arrival in Tallahassee for the 2002-03 season, Florida State had won at least 23 games only eight times in the history of the program. Hamilton currently holds the school record for seasons by a coach with at least 22 wins with six.
SEMINOLES’ THOMAS NAMED ALL-ACC HONORABLE MENTION
Sophomore Aaron Thomas, who enters Tuesday’s game against Minnesota averaging a team-leading 14.8 points scored per game, earned All-ACC Honorable Mention honors as voted on by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. It marks the ninth consecutive season and 11th time in the 12 seasons under head coach Leonard Hamiltonthat the Seminoles have had at least one player earn All-ACC Honors. Thomas is ranked 11th in the ACC in scoring and fifth in steals.
MILLER NAMED SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR IN VOTE BY THE LEAGUES HEAD COACHES
Senior Ian Miller, who is Florida State’s second leading scorer coming off the bench in 24 of 31 games, was named the ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year in a vote by the league’s 15 head coaches. Miller came off the Seminoles’ bench in his first 23 games of the season before being inserted in to the starting line-up and ranks 16th in the ACC in scoring (13.7) and third in the ACC in free throw percentage (.870).
MILLER NAMED SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR BY COLLEGEHOOPSDAILY.COM
Senior Ian Miller, who enters Tuesday’s game against Minnesota averaging a career-high 13.7 points scored per game, was named the ACC’s Sixth Man of The Year by CollegeHoopsDaily.com.
WHITE NAMED TO ALL-ACC DEFENSIVE TEAM BY ACC COACHES
Senior Okaro White, who is averaging 1.1 blocked shots and 0.8 steals as a senior, was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team by the 15 ACC coaches. White earned 18 blocked shots in 18 ACC games and enters Tuesday’s game against Minnesota with 105 career blocked shots – he became only the 13th player in school history with 100 or more career blocked shots against Maryland on March 13 in the ACC Tournament. White is the anchor of Florida State’s defensive effort which has been ranked among the best in the ACC and nation throughout the season. The Seminoles are ranked second in the ACC in blocked shots, third in the ACC in field goal percentage defense and sixth in steals and scoring defense.