tampabay.com

FSU seniors get fond sendoff

In their regular-season home finale, Al Thornton and Jerel Allen get help snapping a skid.

By D.C. REEVES
Published February 25, 2007


TALLAHASSEE - With the victory in hand, seniors Al Thornton and Jerel Allen left the floor to a standing ovation in what could be their last game at the Donald L Tucker Center.

At least they hope it's their last game there.

Opening with a Thornton basket and an Allen 3-pointer, Florida State's quick start left little question about the outcome of Saturday's 78-52 victory over N.C. State on Senior Day.

The question left unanswered is whether the much-needed conference win comes too late as FSU hopes avoid the NIT and the possible home game that follows in favor of the NCAA Tournament.

"We did a lot of talking this week," coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We did a lot of soul searching. Everyone had to give whatever they had at this point. Our backs are against the wall."

Alone in eighth place at 6-9 in the ACC, an FSU win in the regular-season finale at Miami next Saturday and a strong run in the ACC tournament could impress the selection committee enough to garner its first invite to the field of 65 since 1997-98.

"We told the players how much they mean to us," said Allen who, with Thornton, addressed the team Friday night. "And we told them we really don't want to come back here."

After its first ever win at Duke, FSU (18-11) was 5-4 in conference play before losing five straight and its starting point guard, sophomore Toney Douglas (hand).

"We're a good offensive team," Hamilton said. "But we haven't given ourselves a chance (recently) by not making the extra pass."

FSU took a 10-2 lead and forced N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe to call a timeout less than four minutes in. By the time the Seminoles were done, they pieced together the largest winning margin over a conference foe in 12 years.

Thornton led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Uche Echefu, Isaiah Swann, Ralph Mims also hit double digits in scoring.

"What you saw was the more aggressive team, the more active team won today," Lowe said. "It seemed like they were a step ahead."

It's a step FSU hopes to have come Selection Sunday.

SURA HONORED: Bob Sura, FSU's all time leading scorer and 12-year NBA veteran, had his No. 3 jersey retired at halftime of Saturday's game.