GAME NOTES: Second-round action of the National Invitation Tournament continues Monday with a matchup pitting the top-seeded Florida State Seminoles in Region 4 against the fourth-seeded Georgetown Hoyas at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
The winner of this game will move on to the quarterfinal round of the NIT, and will play Louisiana Tech, which defeated Georgia to earn its spot.
Georgetown abruptly dropped out of the Big East Tournament with a first-round loss to DePaul, ending the Hoyas' hopes of making the NCAA bracket. Georgetown was invited to the NIT, and defeated West Virginia in the first round, 77-65, to move on.
Florida State was ousted in the ACC Tournament by eventual conference champion Virginia. The Seminoles, who had an above average regular season, earned a one seed in the NIT, and took down last year's NCAA sleeper Florida Gulf Coast in the first round, 58-53.
Georgetown and Florida State have met just three times in history. The Hoyas lead the all-time series, 3-0.
The Hoyas really struggled toward the end of the regular season after finding success early on. But the win over West Virginia in the NIT's first round could possibly be a turning point, albeit a late one. The Hoyas held tough defensively in the second half of Tuesday's battle, holding West Virginia to 37 percent shooting from the floor that allowed Georgetown to come back from a three-point first-half deficit. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera dominated for Georgetown, netting 32 points with 10 rebounds in the game, hitting a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. Markel Starks chipped in 14 points with seven rebounds and seven assists, and Jabril Trawick netted 12 points in the win.
Smith-Rivera and Starks are the two dominant forces for the Hoyas this season when it comes to scoring. Smith-Rivera leads the team with a 17.4 ppg average, adding 5 rpg and a team-high 40 steals to his season resume. Starks enters the matchups with Florida State netting 17 ppg with a team-best 131 assists on the year. Nate Lubick tops the squad with a 5.5 rpg mark, and Mikael Hopkins adds a team-high 50 blocked shots. Georgetown enters the game averaging 70.4 ppg, and gives up 67.3 ppg to opponents.
Florida State engaged in a defensive battle against the usually up-tempo pace of Florida Gulf Coast's "Dunk City" offense, holding the Eagles to a mere 53 points in the game. It was a cold first half for FGCU, as the team shot just 31.8 percent from the floor en route to 19 first-half points. The 24-19 first- half advantage was all Florida State would need to hold on for the win. Aaron Thomas netted a team-high 22 points in the victory, while Okaro White contributed 17 points with seven rebounds and four steals.
The Seminoles have a bit of the injury bug going around. Both big man Michael Ojo and guard Ian Miller are questionable to play against Georgetown - Ojo because of a sprained knee and Miller a sprained toe. Miller is the team's second leading scorer, netting 13.7 ppg. Thomas tops the squad in that category with a 14.3 ppg average, and White rounds out the team's double-digit scorers at 13.3 ppg. White's 6.6 rpg mark leads the 'Noles, and Devon Bookert's 88 assists is the best of the roster. Florida State is scoring an average of 70 ppg and allowing 65.5 ppg to the opposition.
If Smith-Rivera and Starks are on their game, this contest should be a real battle, and the Hoyas certainly have the ability to pull out a win on the road. But the Seminoles were dangerous this season at the Tucker Center, and have a scoring defense that can absolutely limit Georgetown's point production. The 'Noles have the edge and are the favorites to advance to the NIT quarterfinals.
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