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Gray, Koprivica pace Seminoles past Spartans, 64-54, in first round of NCAA Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 20: UNC Greensboro Spartans against the Florida State Seminoles in the...
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 20: UNC Greensboro Spartans against the Florida State Seminoles in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 20, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)(Joe Robbins/NCAA Photos | NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Published: Mar. 20, 2021 at 3:14 PM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WCTV) - The Florida State Seminoles won their sixth-straight opening round NCAA Tournament game as the Seminoles defeated the UNC Greensboro Spartans, 64-54, Saturday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

FSU won despite not making a three pointer, going 0-for-9 from beyond the arc. It’s the first game since February 25, 2018 that FSU did not make a three pointer and is the second team in the NCAA Tournament since 2018 to win a game without shooting a three since the Kentucky Wildcats (2018 tournament vs. Davidson).

UNCG’s Keyshaun Langley hit a three-pointer with the first shot of the second half to tie the game at 29-29, completely erasing a 16-point lead the Seminoles had built earlier in the first half.

After that, though, the Seminoles went on a tear, led by center Balsa Koprivica. FSU rattled off a 12-0 run in which Koprivica scored seven of those points and contributed four rebounds, four blocks and an assist.

FSU led by as many as 12 in the second half, leading 41-29 with 14:39 to play, but the Spartans flipped the script on the Noles and rattled off a 21-10 run in the middle stages of the half to pull within one point, at 51-50, with 4:52 to play.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Seminoles never relinquished the lead in the second half, and RaiQuan Gray rattled off consecutive baskets to put the Noles ahead 55-50 with four minutes to play and the Seminoles never led by less than six from that point on en route to a 10 point victory.

In crunchtime, the Noles were clutch and the Spartans were not: FSU ended the game making their last three shots from the floor, and six of their last eight overall, while UNCG made just one of their final eight shot attempts.

It wasn’t a hot start for the Seminoles as much as it was slow start for the Spartans: Inside of the game’s opening eight minutes, UNCG went over six minutes without a point as FSU jumped out to a 13-2 lead.

FSU had little trouble getting to the basket, outscoring the Spartans in the paint 20-8 in the first half and 44-16 overall, especially in the early going as Koprivica and Tanor Ngom logged a couple of early dunks and Sardaar Calhoun, although he didn’t connect, was able to drive and earn early trips to the free throw line.

With 7:26 to play in the first half, the Noles had rattled off a 6-0 run and held the Spartans to just 3-for-17 shooting from the floor, but from there, the Spartans took control of the game, going on a 9-0 run over a 3:25 span, helped by four FSU turnovers (three courtesy of Koprivica: Two offensive fouls and a travel) to cut the Noles’ lead to nine points at the under four media timeout.

It was a 19-6 run to end the first half for the Spartans, who cut the Noles’ lead to 29-26 at the halftime break. UNCG ended the first half going 8-for-12 from the floor.

FSU was led by Gray, who finished with a team-best 17 points and shot 8-for-13 from the floor.

Koprivica (13) and Polite (12) also finished in double-digit scoring for the Noles, with Koprivica coming one rebound away from a double-double and led the team with two blocks.

The Spartans were paced by Isaiah Miller, who led the way for UNCG with 17 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with five. Langley was the only other Spartan to score double figures, logging 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting, all of which were three-pointers.

The loss drops UNCG to 0-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 0-5 all time against Florida State.

As a team, the Seminoles outshot (52.1%-31.7%), outrebounded (38-32) and out-blocked (6-1) the Spartans.

The Seminoles/Spartans will take on the Colorado Buffaloes in the Round of 32, who defeated 12th-seeded Georgetown 96-73 Saturday, on Sunday. Time, location and TV information is still to be announced.

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