On Friday night, the Florida State basketball program finally has its first NCAA Tournament win since 1998. The 10-seed Seminoles pulled away late from 7-seed Texas A&M to advance in the bracket, 57-50.
The Seminoles trailed at halftime, but aided by Derwin Kitchen and his 15 points, Florida State managed to out-score the Aggies in the second half, 34-24. Kitchen also pulled down seven rebounds. Overall, Florida State shot 46.5 percent from the field.
Florida State also executed on defense, recording ten blocks, including three powerful rejections from Bernard James. A&M had trouble scoring from the outset, and ended up shooting just 31.4 percent from the field.
The Seminoles will now advance to play 2-seed Notre Dame on Sunday. For more on this game, be sure to check in with our Florida State blog, Tomahawk Nation, as well as our Texas A&M blog, I Am The 12th Man.
Here is how the Southwest Region bracket looks after the Seminoles' win:
On Friday afternoon, 7-seed Texas A&M and 10-seed Florida State are meeting for their first game of the NCAA Tournament. the two teams are off to a relatively slow pace to start the game, and at halftime, A&M leads, 26-23.
Thus far, the Aggies have been led by Khris Middleton's 11 points. His struggles at the line, however, are indicative of his team's free-throw performance. A&M is only 7-for-17 from the line.
The Seminoles have spread around the scoring fairly judiciously, with Okaro White's seven points leading his team. Hindering Florida State's efforts is the poor three-point shooting, as they've drained only one of nine from beyond the arc.
During and after the game, follow along with Aggies fans at our Texas A&M blog, I Am The 12th Man. You can also follow the game with Seminoles fans at our Florida State blog, Tomahawk Nation.
The seven-seed Texas A&M Aggies in Southwest region of 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket may be one of the best defensive teams in all of the land. They'll take on the athletic yet sometimes disorganized Florida State Seminoles at 4:10 p.m. ET Friday on TBS. Check your NCAA Tournament schedule here for all of the games.
Star Watch: For the Seminoles, it all starts with do everything wing Chris Singleton who happened to be college basketball's best wing defender before going down with midseason injury. He's back and purported to be at full strength. Singleton's not only the Seminoles best defender, but he's their best overall player leading the team in scoring and rebounds per contest. He's flanked by a pair of streaky shooters in Derwin Kitchen and Deividas Dulkys. Kitchen is the closest thing to a playmaking guard the Seminoles have, but he's struggled to get by above average on ball defenders on the bounce this season. This is bad news because Mark Turgeon's Aggies guard he ball very well.
Khris Middleton is Texas A&M's leading scorer. He's a true wing and he'll likely draw Chris Singleton as defensive matchup. The Aggie wing has struggled against similarly sized defenders to begin with, so don't expect much offensive production out of Middleton with the glove-like Singleton tagging him. Where the Aggies may be able to find some relief on offense is in the paint. David Loubeau is a mauler inside using his strength to carve out space for paint buckets. Nathan Walkup is an undersized four who can step out and hit a perimeter jumper or drive it to the goal against slower defenders. The Aggies as a team are also relentless on the glass to they may be able to manufacture some second chance points in what rates to be a low scoring game.
Prediction: If you like great guard play, this isn't the game for you. Aggie guard BJ Holmes may be the best guard in this game overall, but he's as tall as an ewok. What the game should boil down to is FSU's athleticism vs. the Aggies' motion offense. Florida State is so disorganized on offense with an overreliance on individual creativity that they'll struggle to score against a stingy Aggie defense which makes the glass so important for FSU. A&M rebounds well as a team, so they'll likely get a tie on the glass which means if the Aggies are patient on their end, they'll manufacture enough points in the half court to outscore and outlast FSU in what should be an ugly game. Aggies 55 to 50 over the Seminoles.