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November 30, 2008

FSU coming back from Vegas undefeated

Florida State vs. Cal

On their way to a 7-0 start to the season, Florida State has kept it interesting in nearly every game. After leading by double-digits throughout the second half against Califorrnia, the Seminoles had to rely on free throw shooting down the stretch to pull out an 80-77 victory in the championship game of the Global Sports Classic on Saturday.

"Well that is a good feeling," head coach Leonard Hamilton said of being undefeated. "I think the most satisfying thing is that we are still growing and learning and developing as a team. We still showed in many cases during the course of the game that we are still a work in progress but I think our guys are giving good effort. They are trying to do everything we ask them to do."

Hamilton's team closed out the first half on an 11-0 run and scored the first five points of the second half for a 37-23 advantage early in the second half. Senior point guard Toney Douglas had 10 points in the outburst, including a pair of three-pointers.

The lead would consistently remain around double-digits for a majority of the second half, but the Bears rallied in the closing minutes to cut the deficit to two points with three seconds to play before a free throw by freshman guard Pierre Jordan sealed the victory.

During the final three minutes of the game, the two teams combined for 41 points with Cal's Jerome Randle scoring 15 points in those two minutes. Randle finished the game with 26 points.

"We kind of faltered there towards the end," Hamilton said. "But the good thing is we won this game and we can use this as a learning tool and hopefully we will be better prepared the next time we get in a situation like this."

Before fouling out, Florida State's Douglas scored a game-high 28 points. While he came up big on the offensive end, he was pivotal in helping to slow down Cal's attack from the perimeter. Entering the game, the Bears led the country in three-point shooting with Randle shooting over 70-percent from deep he was held to 2-of-6 from the perimeter against Florida State on Saturday night.

"I thought he did a tremendous defensive job on the number one three-point shooting guy in the entire country," Hamilton said of Douglas' performance. "I thought Toney took that challenge."

In addition to Douglas, senior forward Uche Echefu added 17 points. Freshman forward Chris Singleton added nine points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Luke Loucks and junior forward Ryan Reid each had seven.

"I think it is real good knowing that our young guys really stepped up to the challenge against some good competition," Douglas said of his supporting cast. "We know we are a team that can play with anybody in the country but we also know we just have to take it one game at a time."

Florida State will now return home before travelling to Northwestern on Wednesday night for a 9:30 p.m. tilt with Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Heading into that game, Hamilton talked a bit about where his young team is a quarter of the way into the regular season.

"I am not sure I can say we are further along," Hamilton said. "We are grinding games out. We have won a lot of close games. We have blown about five teams out by three points or less.(laughs) So I don't know how to feel about that other than we are just finding ways to win."

AP contributed to this story.


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