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Freshman leads NC State over Florida State
Published January 27, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A little yelling and taunting wasn't about to shake North Carolina State's J.J. Hickson.
The freshman was on the road in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference, but calmly sank a pair of free throws with 9.6 seconds and then blocked a Toney Douglas layup try at the other end of the floor Saturday to boost the Wolfpack to a 69-66 victory over Florida State.
"He just stepped up there and knocked them down," Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said.
And right in front of Florida State's pep band and students, who waved signs, screamed and did just about everything they could to try and distract Hickson.
"We set up like we knew he was going to make the free throws," Lowe said. "We weren't planning for him to miss him."
Courtney Fells' 3-point shot off the glass had tied the game at 66 with 40 seconds left before Hickson's two free throws made it 68-66 and Javier Gonzalez added a free throw with 2.2 seconds left after Hickson's game-saving block.
"He (Douglas) took the ball too deep and got it blocked," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.
North Carolina State (13-6, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 46.5 percent while Florida State (13-8, 2-4) hit just 36.8 percent of its shots.
Douglas had put the Seminoles ahead 62-59 with a 3-point basket with 2:50 to go but failed on his last two attempts in the final 10 seconds.
Fells led the winners with 16 points, Gavin Grant added 14 and Hickson coupled a dozen points with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Lowe had called the play that resulted in Fells's game-tying 3-point basket.
"It was the play we called," Fells said. "The bank wasn't."
Douglas' 17 points led Florida State which also had 14 points each from Uche Echefu and Ralph Mims.
The big difference came in the first half when the Wolfpack scored the final 17 points to erase a 12-point deficit.
"You just can't afford to have two or three bad possessions," Hamilton said. "They come back to haunt you."
Grant hit a 3-pointer and added a layup 23 seconds later to ignite the run in the final 4:31 of the half that gave the Wolfpack a 36-31 halftime lead.
"That run gave us confidence to know that we could come back from any deficit," Hickson said.
Florida State had built a 31-19 advantage before going scoreless the final 5:08 of the half.
The Seminoles regained the lead 43-42 with 12:24 left when Jason Rich slipped free along the baseline for an uncontested dunk that setup a seesaw finish.
"That's life in the ACC," said Hamilton, who will most likely need to win six of the remaining 10 conference games to have any hope of avoiding a tenth straight season without an invitation to the NCAA tournament.