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November 19, 2006Box Score
This time, the Florida State basketball team didn't have to shake off a slow start.
Instead, the Seminoles had to figure out what to do with themselves after racing to a 40-9 lead late in the first half against New Orleans.
FSU sputtered a bit in the second half, but still managed a comfortable 69-50 victory over the Privateers. It was the final tune-up before a rugged three-game stretch against top-10 teams Pitt, Wisconsin and Florida - something that senior Al Thornton said should have been on the minds of the FSU players during the sloppy second half on Sunday night.
"We really can't afford to do that in these upcoming games," Thornton said. "It is just a little growing up we need to do. We needed to go ahead and blow them out. We kind of slacked off a little bit because of who we were playing. We should have used that second half as preparation for Pittsburgh but we are getting better. We will watch film, I am pretty sure the coaches will chew us out, and we will get better."
Though he didn't exactly light up the scoreboard on Sunday, Thornton's 12 points (on 6 of 9 shooting) left quite an impression on first-year New Orleans coach Buzz Williams, who served as an assistant coach at Texas A&M the last two seasons.
"He knows how to create space," Williams said. "He knows what to do when he has the space. He's a lot more athletic than he probably showed tonight, but I think he's as athletic as anybody guarding him. I think when he has space he's really good. Space anywhere from inside the three-point line. Because I think he can handle it. I think he can shoot it. He can post you. He can turn and face. I think all the stuff that Stan [Jones, FSU's associate head coach] has done with him from a skill-set perspective, he's gotten a lot better."
Thornton wasn't the only player in double figures for the Seminoles (4-0). Junior guard Jason Rich added 11 points and sophomore guard Toney Douglas had 10.
Freshman forward Ryan Reid had seven points and nine rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.
"[Reid] has definitely been a surprise," Thornton said. "He is the type of guy that picks up things well. He is very tough. He is a physical person inside. You haven't seen nothing yet."
FSU players hope to say the same thing about their own team, especially as they head into this three-game stretch.
The first top-10 matchup comes on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against No. 4 Pitt. That game is followed by a matchup against No. 9 Wisconsin on Nov. 28 and then by a home game against No. 1 Florida on Dec. 3.
"I think this is a good opportunity and challenge for us to make some noise," Rich said. "But I don't want to say this stretch is make-or-break. ... Respect is earned, not given, and this is a perfect time to earn it."