The Daily Nole

40-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Rallies Past Toledo in First Round of NCAA Tournament

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From Florida State’s appearance in the 1972 national championship until the 1991 NCAA Tournament, the Seminoles managed just one win in the big dance. That victory came on this day 40 years ago.

The Seminoles were 21-8 as they arrived in Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on MAC champion Toledo to kick off the 1980 NCAA Tournament. The Rockets were 23-5 and for most of the day, gave the Seminoles all they wanted. When all was said and done however, FSU found a way for a thrilling 94-91 victory.

In a contest where both teams shot well over 50 percent, Toledo took a 49-43 lead into the locker room. With less than 14 minutes to play in the game, FSU drew even at 61 on back-to-back baskets from Murray Brown and Mickey Dillard, but the Rockets answered with six straight points.

From there, the lead would change six times. After five straight points from FSU’s Rodney Arnold evened the game at 73, the Seminoles took their first lead of the second half on a 3-point play by Dillard. Again, Toledo had answer, scoring the next seven points.

The lead down the stretch would get as high as six for Toledo, but with just over three minutes remaining, Arnold scored five straight points before a Dillard bucket put FSU in front, 85-84. A long jumper from Tim Selgo with more than two minutes to go put Toledo ahead 86-85, but that would be the final lead for the Rockets.

The Seminoles scored seven straight points with a turnaround jumper and a 3-point play by Brown sandwiched around another Dillard basket. FSU would never look back.

Arnold finished with a game-high 29 points to lead the Seminoles. Brown and Dillard added 26 and 22 points, respectively in the win. Center Elvis Rolle added 15 points and six rebounds.

As a team, FSU shot 55 percent. Toledo shot 56 percent, but was 9-for-13 from the foul line compared to 16 of 20 for the Seminoles.

Like FSU, Toledo had three players hit the 20-point plateau. Jim Swaney led the Rockets with 22 points. Dick Miller and Harvey Knuckles chipped in with 21 and 20 points, respectively.

The Seminoles would go on to fall to Kentucky in the second round two days later, 97-78. The victory over Toledo would serve as FSU’s only NCAA Tournament win of the 1980s. It came on this day four decades ago.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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