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Men's Hoops Proves it Belongs in Big Dance



March 13, 1998

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Florida State played the way it did early in the year, which was more than good enough to beat Texas Christian.

The 12th-seeded Seminoles, criticized by some for even being in the NCAA tournament, proved they belong Friday by outrunning the run-and-gun Horned Frogs, 96-87, in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

Corey Louis and Randell Jackson scored 20 points each, and Louis had 13 rebounds as the Seminoles (18-13) advanced to the second round where they will meet No. 13 seed Valparaiso on Sunday.

"I think our guys did a tremendous job today of taking care of the basketball, getting us into the offense and getting the shots we were looking for," coach Steve Robinson said. "We really got a lot of high-percentage shots."

Jackson scored 16 of his points in the second half and most of them came in the paint, where Florida State dominated at both ends of the floor.

Lee Nailon had 32 points and eight rebounds for fifth-seeded TCU (27-6), but fouled out with 4:15 remaining and the Horned Frogs trailing 84-80. Florida State widened its lead to 89-80 on a tip-in by Louis with 2:47 remaining, then held on by making free throws after TCU got within 91-87 with just over a minute to play.

Nailon was very good, making 12 of 22 shots from the floor. But he didn't get much help - the other starters were a combined 15 of 38, and the Horned Frogs wound up shooting just 44 percent.

"We knew coming in they were a good team," coach Billy Tubbs said. "Physically they're very, very good. Today they got things going. We got them into a running game and they're probably better at a running game than we are."

The Seminoles came in averaging 70 points per game, and their total Friday was a season high. But Tubbs attributed that style to the fact Florida State plays in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference.

Florida State certainly looked comfortable against the TCU press. The Seminoles made up for 19 turnovers by shooting 55 percent.

After the first half ended 46-all, TCU made just three field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half. Florida State, meanwhile, opened as much as a seven-point lead by consistently getting the ball inside.

Jackson said a lot of practice against TCU's 1-3-1 zone paid off.

"The repetitions working on it and just attacking their defense was a big key for us, regardless of who was shooting the ball," he said. "We knew we would get a high-percentage shot."

The Seminoles were able to keep control of the game throughout the second half. TCU made things interesting by getting within four with 1:29 left, but the Horned Frogs didn't score again.

Florida State closed the year by losing six of seven games, and as a result was the lowest-seeded at-large team in the tournament. But the Seminoles played Friday as they did in starting 13-1, including victories over Connecticut and Arizona.

"The conversation hasn't been very favorable about Florida State being in this tournament," Robinson said. "I think our kids have responded well.

"By playing well today, we have helped show some people we really did belong in the tournament."

TCU was making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1987. The loss spoiled a homecoming for Tubbs, who spent 14 years as coach at Oklahoma before leaving for TCU. Tubbs picked up a technical foul in the second half for yelling at an official after no foul was called on a shot by Nailon.

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