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Seminoles punch ticket to third-straight Sweet Sixteen with 71-53 win over Colorado

Florida State center Balsa Koprivica (5) gets a hug from teammate Scottie Barnes, right, after...
Florida State center Balsa Koprivica (5) gets a hug from teammate Scottie Barnes, right, after a dunk during the second half of a second-round game against Colorado in the NCAA college basketball tournament at Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)(Charles Rex Arbogast | Associated Press)
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 10:12 PM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WCTV) - Anthony Polite scored a career-best 22 points as Florida State defeated Colorado, 71-53, to punch their ticket to a third-straight Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s the seventh Sweet Sixteen appearance all-time for the Seminoles. FSU will face off against the Michigan Wolverines, who defeated LSU Monday night, 86-78, in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday. The two programs last met in the 2018 Elite Eight where the Wolverines defeated the Noles by four.

Leading the Buffaloes by one point with 11:33 left to play in the second half, Scottie Barnes found Sardaar Calhoun for an alley-oop dunk that sparked a Seminoles run that carried them the rest of the game, as the Noles outscored the Buffs 35-18 in the final 11:32 of the contest.

The Noles also ended the game hitting each of their last seven field goal attempts, finishing the game shooting 52% (24-46) and 35.3% from three (6-17).

Polite sparked the offense early, scoring the first bucket of the game for FSU in the form of a three-pointer, the first of the Noles’ NCAA Tournament run after FSU went 0-for-9, and then followed it up with another three to give the Noles an early 6-5 lead.

Points were hard to come by for both sides in the opening 20 minutes, as FSU put their junkyard defense mentality on full display, holding CU scoreless for 7:03 at one point in the first half, forcing 11-straight empty possessions for the Buffaloes at one point.

FSU also avoided putting CU on the free throw line for the entirety of the opening half. (CU shot just 11 free throws all game, making seven.)

Colorado ended the first half making four of their last 15 shots from the floor.

As good as the first half defense was for Florida State, the offense struggled: FSU made just nine field goals in the first half (shooting 40.9%, a statistic that looks better on paper than did in the moment).

Polite was one of just two double-digit scorers for the Seminoles, along with Malik Osborne who put together a sneaky 11-point game in 20 minutes on the floor. RaiQuan Gray led all Noles in rebounding, with six, and Polit and Osbourne both added five each to their statline.

Three Buffaloes finished with double-digit point totals: D’Shawn Schwartz (13), Evan Battey (11) and McKinley Wright (10), who entered the game as CU’s leading scorer but struggled to be effective against FSU.

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