The Daily Nole

FSU Handles Illinois for Third Place Finish in NIT Season Tip-Off

FSU athletics

One day after being the victim of a big second half run, No. 25 Florida State made one of its own on Friday to top Illinois 72-61 in the NIT Season Tip-Off consolation game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The first 28 minutes saw a contest that was close and went back and fourth. After a layup by Tre’Jon Lucas with under 12 minutes to play gave Illinois (4-3) a 44-42 lead, the Seminoles (5-1) responded with a 24-7 run to seize control of the game.

Freshman Jonathan Isaac scored eight of his 15 points during the run. The 6-10 talent also finished the day with a team-high seven rebounds. Dwayne Bacon led the Seminoles with 17 points.

Isaac wasn’t the only FSU freshman to shine however. Guard C.J. Walker had the best game of his young career with 13 points and was a big reason the Seminoles were able to take a 30-27 lead to the locker room. Xavier Rathan-Mayes added 10 points in the win.

The story of the day for Florida State was the defense. The Seminoles blocked nine shots to Illinois’ none and held the Fighting Illini to less than 33 percent shooting and just 5-for-22 from beyond the arc.

Malcolm Hill paced Illinois with a game-high 18 points while Leron Black had the game’s only double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Lucas added 10 points in the loss.

With the win, FSU secures a third place finish in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Seminoles will return home to take on Minnesota in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Monday. Illinois will host N.C. State in the challenge on Tuesday night.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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