Noles keep slim tourney hopes alive
Leonard Hamilton doesn't want to fixate on the NCAA tournament. His Florida State Seminoles now have 17 wins after an 81-71 win against Georgia Tech on Sunday, but their postseason position is anything but solid.
The Seminoles are right on the delicate bubble with two regular-season games remaining, including the finale at home against No. 4 Syracuse.
"We can't spend a whole lot of time worrying about something that's that far away," Hamilton said. "What we have to do is take care of what we can control. We can't worry about the selection committee. Or whether we're in or whether you're out. RPI and BPI. You can't get caught up in that.
"There have been a lot of teams over the years that have been in the situation that we're in and they've played their way out of it. We can be one of those teams. ... We will mention it, yes, but harping on it won't do any good."
Okaro White scored 18 for Florida State (17-11, 8-8 ACC) and Aaron Thomas added 15. Devon Bookert scored 16 points off the bench, going 4 for 4 on 3-pointers, while Montay Brandon grabbed 12 rebounds.
Hamilton may want to downplay tournament scenarios, but the Seminoles are very aware of their situation.
"I don't think there's a day we don't think about it," White said. "We're basketball players ... we watch ESPN. All they're talking about is the No. 1 seed or No. 2 seed, and then they're talking about the bubble teams. We're always on that list.
"Yeah, it's always in the back of our heads, but we understand we've got to go ahead and finish out this regular season strong in order to get to where we need to be."
Georgia Tech (13-16, 4-12) lost its fourth consecutive and has dropped six of seven. Robert Carter Jr. scored 20 points and snatched six rebounds while Trae Golden chipped in 16 points. Daniel Miller finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets never found a groove offensively and shot just 36.2 percent from the field. They had been shooting 42.6 percent during conference play, and that ranked 11th in the ACC. Georgia Tech connected on just 5 of 27 shots from behind the arc to make an inefficient offensive day even worse.
"I think they're squarely a NCAA caliber tournament team," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "They could probably win a couple games with their size and athletic ability."
The Seminoles used two bursts in the first half to gain control of the game, but allowed a late Georgia Tech run to close the gap to 34-31 at the break.
Ian Miller, who finished with 15 points, highlighted an 11-0 run with consecutive 3-pointers after Florida State fell behind 11-6. The second came in transition after Miller gave up the ball with a pass between his legs, got it back and hit a step-back 3-pointer as the defender fell to the ground.
Miller started the second run, a 9-0 stretch, with a long jumper before a pair of buckets from Boris Bojanovsky. Florida State then took a 26-14 lead on a Jarquez Smith free throw.
Georgia Tech responded with a 17-9 stretch to close the gap before the half.
The Seminoles opened the second half with a 15-7 run that the Yellow Jackets never recovered from.
Florida State didn't settle for jump shots and connected on 22 of 25 free throw attempts in the second half that proved too much for Georgia Tech. The Seminoles shot 61.1 percent from the field after halftime.
"We're just trying to make the best of the situation we're in," Bookert said. "Just trying to make it as far as we can go."
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