Men's basketball: Minnesota faces Florida State on Tuesday in NIT semis
Minnesota looks to advance to the NIT final for the second time in three years when it faces Florida State today in New York. The top-seeded Golden Gophers fell to Stanford in the 2012 championship game and hope to get another crack at the title after downing Southern Mississippi 81-73 to reach the semifinals.
“We went that far and lost in the championship game, we don’t want to do that again,” senior guard Austin Hollins told reporters. “We’ve got a new team, a new coach and we expect to go there and win the whole thing.”
Florida State punched its ticket to New York City with a 78-75 victory over Louisiana Tech on Wednesday. The top-seeded Seminoles, who will see six of their top nine scholarship players return next season, aim to avenge a 71-61 defeat to Minnesota this season in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
“This opportunity that we have to participate in a postseason tournament and extend it to going to the Final Four of the NIT is tremendous for our team’s growth,” coach Leonard Hamilton told reporters.
ABOUT MINNESOTA (23-13): Austin Hollins poured in a career-high 32 points to go with four assists and three steals while going 10-of-10 from the free-throw line in the win over Southern Miss. The Golden Gophers dished out a season-best 23 assists versus the Golden Eagles, with Andre Hollins providing a game-high seven. Free-throw shooting has played an integral role in Minnesota’s recent run as it has gone 70-of-85 from the line in the tournament.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (22-13): Aaron Thomas scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the final frame and secured nine rebounds in the victory over Louisiana Tech. Okaro White, who was born in Brooklyn and will play in front of family and friends at Madison Square Garden, tallied 20 points and eight rebounds versus the Bulldogs. The Seminoles’ last appearance in the NIT semifinals came in 1997 when they beat Connecticut before losing to Michigan in the final.
n Minnesota is 11-0 when scoring 80 or more points this season.
n Florida State G Devon Bookert has gone 15-of-20 from 3-point range in his last eight games.
n The winner will face Southern Methodist or Clemson in the championship game.
Minnesota 76, Florida State 71