The Daily Nole

20-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Upsets TCU in NCAA Tournament

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It’s one of the more exciting weeks in sports as the NCAA Tournament gets underway this week. For Florida State, the Seminoles are dancing for a second straight year and a sixth time in 10 years — the most in any decade-long span in school-history.

FSU should know not to take NCAA Tournament appearances for granted. That’s also true for a team that the Seminoles defeated on this day 20 years ago.

FSU didn’t exactly have momentum on its side as it strolled in Oklahoma City as the No. 12 seed to open the 1998 NCAA Tournament on March 13, 1998. Florida State had lost seven of its prior eight games coming in and was a first-round exit from the ACC Tournament.

Overall, FSU finished the season with a record of 17-13 and 6-10 in ACC play, but a strong non-conference showing that included wins over Connecticut, Arizona and Florida was enough to get it into the dance. The opponent was fifth-seeded TCU, who led by one of the nation’s leading scorers in Lee Nailon, owned a 27-5 record.

The contest was competitive throughout. At halftime, the score was knotted at 46.

As a team, Florida State shot nearly 54 percent and was paced by the front line of Corey Louis and Randell Jackson, who each had 20 points. Louis grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.

Neither however, had an answer for Nailon, who finished with 32 points, but fouled out with 4:14 to play. From that point on, Florida State maintained control for an eventual 96-87 victory.

In addition to the dynamic duo up front, Kerry Thompson and LaMarr Greer each added 17 points for Florida State. Ron Hale chipped in with 15 for the victorious Seminoles.

Mike Jones finished with 16 points for TCU in the loss while Malcolm Johnson added 14 points and Dennis Davis 12. TCU shot just 2-for-12 from deep, but forced 19 FSU turnovers to stay competitive.

The Seminoles would advance no further as they were upset in overtime 83-77 by Valparaiso and a talented guard named Brice Drew in the second round. The NCAA Tournament appearance however, would be one to savor for both schools.

It would be 11 years later before Florida State returned to the tournament and more than 13 years later before it won another game in the NCAA Tournament. The Horned Frogs will take on either Syracuse or Arizona State on Friday in what will be their first NCAA Tournament game since falling to the Seminoles on this day 20 years ago.

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

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