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December 7, 2008

FSU makes it three in a row over UF

Video Highlights: FSU-UF / Game Photos

Make it three in row for Florida State over its instate rival.

On Sunday night, the Seminoles earned a hard-fought victory over Florida by a 57-55 score. The 'Noles outlasted the No. 21 ranked Gators behind 13 points from Ryan Reid. The junior forward hit three key free throws and a turnaround jumper in the final three minutes to push FSU into the lead. It was a lead they wouldn't surrender as a Dan Werner three-point shot missed as the clock expired.

"Obviously this game could have gone either way," head coach Leonard Hamilton said following the game. "Florida kind of surged ahead there toward the end and fortunately for us we were able to get some deflections, get defensive stops that we had to, and guys stepped up and made some free throws."

Despite leading by as many as nine points in the first half, Florida State went into the locker room with a narrow one point advantage at 26-25.

The second half began with a series of runs. First, the Seminoles went on a 14-5 run over the first seven minutes of the second half. Then the Gators went on a 19-4 run over the next six-plus minutes to take a 49-43 lead with just over six minutes remaining.

With the game hanging in the balance, it was back and forth until Florida State got the lead for good at 52-51 on Reid's two free throws with 1:20 left. His turnaround jumper on FSU's next possession extended the lead to 54-51 with 38 seconds remaining.

Entering Sunday's game, senior Toney Douglas led the Seminoles in scoring but he was stone cold against the Gators hitting just 1-of-9 from the field. Without Douglas' scoring punch, other players stepped up including three that scored in double digits.

"I thought the team really pulled together," Hamilton said. "We didn't show a lack of confidence in the game plan. Everything in the huddle was positive. The kids were communicating with each other and never seemed to lose the confidence that we had a chance to win the game even though we were down late in the game."

Jordan Demercy, who hit a free throw with six seconds remaining to give the Seminoles their final margin of victory, chipped in a career-high 12 points. Freshman center Solomon Alabi added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Seminoles as he played a career-high 34 minutes. Freshman forward Chris Singleton nearly picked up a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.

"We had a lot of heroes," Hamilton said. "A lot of guys who just played the game from start to finish with the effort. We didn't always play as well but I thought the effort was good."

Florida State won despite shooting just 16-of-51 from the field and 6-of-21 from the perimeter in a game marked by seven lead changes and five ties. The Seminoles finished 19-of-26 from the free throw line including 6-of-8 in the final three minutes. Florida State had a 36-to-32 rebounding advantage against the Gators.

The Gators, who came into the game averaging 79 points per game, struggled from the field shooting on 20-of-51 from the field and 4-of-18 from 3-point range. Guard Nick Calathes led Florida (6-2) with 16 points and Werner added 10.

The win over the Gators was not only an emotional win over a rival, it was also a positive sign after FSU's sluggish performance at Northwestern last Wednesday night.

"I am very proud of these guys bouncing back from somewhat of a lackluster effort at Northwestern," Hamilton said. "The whole team kind of grew up a little bit tonight. I think we grew up and learned from (Northwestern) and I think we will be a better team as a result of it."

With Sunday's victory, Florida State improved to 8-1 on the season. The Seminoles will focus on final exams this week before hitting the road for a game at Georgia State on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m.


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