Florida State 78, Louisiana Tech 75

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[March 27, 2014]  TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  Florida State 78, Louisiana Tech 75: Aaron Thomas had 21 points and nine rebounds and Okaro White posted 20 and eight as the Seminoles held on against the visiting Bulldogs in the NIT quarterfinals.

Devon Bookert chipped in 11 points and Montay Brandon had 10 for the top-seeded Seminoles (22-13), who advanced to next week's Final Four in New York City, where they will face Minnesota at Madison Square Garden. Florida State nearly blew an eight-point lead in the final 40 seconds before holding on to win for the seventh time in nine games.

Third-seeded Louisiana Tech (29-8) was led by Kenneth Smith's 16 points, career-high 14 rebounds and six assists. Alex Hamilton and Chris Anderson combined to shoot just 5-of-23 for a total of 13 points.

With about three minutes remaining, back-to-back layups by Louisiana Tech brought the Bulldogs within 71-68 before Brandon hit a jumper and Bookert followed with a 3-pointer to push the Seminoles' lead back to 76-68. Aided by four points from Smith, a 3-pointer by Raheem Appleby and some missed free throws by Florida State, Louisiana Tech clawed its way back in the final minute before Appleby missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds, including one at the buzzer.

White scored 14 first-half points as the Seminoles led 37-33 at intermission. The Bulldogs scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and led most of the stanza until Ian Miller's 3-pointer with just over seven minutes to play snapped a 60-60 tie and gave Florida State the lead for good.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Cordarius Johnson had 11 first-half points for the Bulldogs but did not score after intermission. ... Louisiana Tech won at Florida State in the opening round of last season's NIT. ... Smith had not recorded more than seven rebounds in any game this season and had not surpassed 10 boards in any game during his three-year career at Louisiana Tech.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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