No. 3 Florida State outlasts feisty Florida Gulf Coast
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Road games have been a challenge throughout the season for a young but talented Florida State team. Thursday felt an awful lot like another one for most of the night against Florida Gulf Coast.
Sensing the upset-minded Eagles could provide a real challenge to the Seminoles, a suddenly enlivened crowd seemed to rally behind them in hope of seeing one of the opening round's biggest upsets.
Instead, No. 3 seed Florida State used its superior size and depth to outlast No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast and earn an 86-80 victory in a West Region opener at Amway Center.
Click through images from the close game here:
Dwayne Bacon scored a team-high 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Jonathan Isaac showed why he is a potential NBA lottery pick, recording 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Behind them, the Seminoles (26-8) advanced to play No. 11 seed Xavier, which beat Maryland earlier in the day, in the second round Saturday.
Brandon Goodwin led all scorers with 28 points on 12-of-27 shooting and had seven assists for the Eagles (26-8). Zach Johnson chipped in 17 points, five assists and four rebounds.
With what is widely considered their most talented team in years, the Seminoles have high expectations of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
That will require better performances in tough environments than they put together in road losses to North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Duke during conference play.
Florida State got a glimpse of what to expect the further they advance, against a Florida Gulf Coast team that seemed to have just enough to hang in there all night.
The Seminoles built their first cushion of the second half when Isaac capped a 7-0 run with a huge dunk while in transition to give FSU a 71-60 lead with eight minutes remaining. The Eagles never really threatened from that point on.
Earlier in the game was quite different.
The crowd really seemed to get into it when FGCU used a 12-0 run to build a 31-28 lead with 3:19 remaining before halftime. One of the most impressive plays of the half came when Goodwin drove to the rim, made a layup while twirling after making contact with a defender and drew a foul.
But, with Bacon's steady presence, the Seminoles never flinched. The sophomore guard hit one shot to snap FGCU's run and threw down a one-handed dunk a few possessions later to help Florida State take a 40-36 lead into halftime.
Terance Mann scored 11 points for FSU, while Xavier Rathan-Mayes added 10.