MOBILE, Ala. - Florida State got some athleticism from an unlikely source in its 71-60 win over Bowling Green in the second round of the Coors Classic Saturday.
In a contest slowed by scoring droughts, turnovers and sloppy play, nimble moves from center Alexander Johnson during the final four minutes gave FSU (6-1) the spark it needed to pull away from the Falcons.
Johnson, a junior with five career 3-point baskets, nailed one with 3:48 to play to give the Seminoles a nine-point lead at 59-50. After Bowling Green scored, Johnson answered with 1:28 to play. He took the ball at the top of the key and beat his defender off the dribble for a layup and regained a nine-point edge.
Johnson finished the game with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
"(The 3-point shot) was my instincts, I guess," said Johnson. "Then the drive, no one wanted to get open and I knew I was quicker so I just used that to my advantage."
Johnson - a 6-foot-9, 230-pounder who lost 26 pounds in the offseason - finished the game with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
"A.J. has really developed his quickness and speed to show that he's worked awful hard all summer," said head coach Leonard Hamilton. "He's capable of making those kind of plays, especially when you have him out in space with another big guy guarding him. He's very quick off the dribble."
Coming off a 10-day layoff due to exams, Florida State was sharp early, holding the Falcons scoreless and leading 12-0 through the first seven minutes.
A Martin Samarco jumpshot ended Florida State's shutout after he missed his first three attempts. Samarco then went 6-of-9, including four 3-pointers, over the next 6:10 that helped the Falcons tie the game at 21.
Bowling Green (2-6) took its first lead with 2:15 left in the first half following another Samarco 3-point jumper. Samarco, a junior who averaged 19.3 points a game coming into the game, scored 19 in the first half and finished with 27.
"He spaced the floor and had great range," Hamilton said of Samarco. "It's good to play against a guy like that because we're going to see two or three of those guys on every team in the ACC."
Andrew Wilson got FSU back on track, hitting the team's first 3-point basket with 10:25 left in the contest. The Seminoles had missed their first 10 attempts from long distance. Johnson's basket from behind the arc was the second and last 3-pointer made as the Seminoles were 2-for-14 from 3-point range.
Florida State will play Stetson Tuesday at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee.