Rayquan Gray scored 17 points and No. 4 seed Florida State began what it hopes will be another deep NCAA Tournament run under coach Leonard Hamilton, holding off 13th-seeded UNC Greensboro 64-54 in the East Region on Saturday.
The Seminoles, who reached the Elite Eight and the Sweet 16 in the previous two tournaments, allowed the Spartans to hang around deep into the second half thanks to an uneven offensive performance.
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Florida State went 0 for 9 from 3-point range, winning a game without a made 3 for the first time since February 2018. The Seminoles still managed to shoot 50% overall.
The Spartans closed within 51-50 with 4:52 remaining, but Florida State held them scoreless for nearly four minutes after that.
Balsa Koprivica had 13 points and nine rebounds and Anthony Polite added 12 points for the Seminoles, who advanced to play Colorado in the second round on Monday.
Isaiah Miller scored 17 points and Keyshaun Langley added 16 for Greensboro (21-9), which was seeking its first tournament win. Greensboro shot 32% overall as Florida State allowed a season-low point total.
Florida State rolled out to a 13-2 lead as Greensboro missed nine of its first 10 shots.
Koprivica went up high for a two-handed alley-oop jam on an assist from M.J. Walker that put the Seminoles up 15-4.
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Greensboro started to settle down later in the first half. The 6-foot Miller dunked off an inbounds lob from the baseline to cut Florida State’s advantage to 25-18.
Langley was fouled on a deep made 3-pointer from straight away, and his free throw with 36 seconds left in the half trimmed Florida State’s edge to 29-26.
Langley’s 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the second half tied the game at 29, but Florida State responded with a 12-0 run.
Greensboro surged again. A pair of free throws by Miller cut Florida State’s lead to one point, but two quick baskets by Gray got the Seminoles back on track.