CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Florida State coach Pat Kennedy wasn't sure which Seminoles team was going to show up last night at the Charlotte Coliseum for its game against North Carolina State in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
After all, Florida State hadn't played a game in more than two weeks. Would it be the Seminoles who struggled for a stretch toward the end of the regular season? Or would it be the Seminoles who were the surprise team of the ACC?
"We were very concerned about the layoff; I was probably asked more about that than anything I've ever been asked," Kennedy said last night. "I thought we'd be rusty in the first half, and we were. In the second half, we were swarming."
It took awhile for Florida State to get its legs against the Wolfpack in its ACC tournament debut. But once the second-seeded Seminoles did, they ran past, dunked over and thoroughly demolished seventh-seeded N.C. State, 93-80, in the first game last night. Florida State will meet third seed North Carolina, which beat sixth-seeded Wake Forest, 80-65.
The Seminoles, who tied a tournament record by placing six players in double figures, made 14 of their first 17 shots in the second half and used a 12-0 run to build a 21-point lead, 71-50. Junior forward Douglas Edwards scored a game-high 21 points on 10 of 11 shooting for Florida State (20-8).
After trailing N.C. State (12-18) by as many as seven midway in the first half, Florida State began its comeback late in the half, tied the game at 40 and then took a 43-40 lead into its locker room when former Dunbar star Sam Cassell made a three-point shot from 23 feet away at the buzzer.
"That shot took a lot out of us," said N.C. State coach Les Robinson. "I told our kids that it was only three points, but they weren't listening. It knocked us, and we didn't recover."
The Seminoles shut down N.C. State forward Tom Gugliotta, limiting the ACC's second-leading scorer to 15 points on six of 16 shooting. Florida State used a matchup zone, with Gugliotta receiving special attention. Rodney Dobard guarded him most of the game, and finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds as well. Curtis Marshall led the Wolfpack with 20 points.
Although the game between Florida State and N.C. State was played at nearly an NBA-type pace -- fittingly, since it came on the home court of the Charlotte Hornets -- yesterday's first game between fourth seed Georgia Tech and fifth-seeded Virginia was a slowdown in comparison.
"I know it wasn't a pretty game, but Georgia Tech and Virginia, we have strange games," Yellow Jackets coach Bobby Cremins said after his team won, 68-56, to advance into today's first semifinal against top seed Duke, which beat Maryland, 94-87. "We bang each other around a lot."
The result was poor shooting for both teams, but especially by Virginia (15-13). The Cavaliers shot a horrific 24.7 percent from the field -- the third worst in the tournament's 39-year history -- by missing 61 of 81 shots. Senior Bryant Stith, the school's all-time leading scorer, was four of 22 and finished with 12 points. Travis Best and Jon Barry each scored 17 for the Yellow Jackets.
"Our kids played hard and they kept hanging in there with the defense, but we flat out couldn't get the ball in the hole," said Virginia coach Jeff Jones, whose team must now cross its fingers until tomorrow night's announcement of the 64-team NCAA tournament field. "We couldn't get anything going and the same was true of Bryant."
Wake Forest (17-11), which has lost its last three games this season to put some doubts into the minds of the NCAA selection committee, couldn't get anything going in the second half last night against North Carolina (20-8). Neither could Rodney Rogers.
After Rogers staked the Demon Deacons to a 39-36 halftime lead with 23 points, he didn't score again until the Tar Heels were comfortably ahead by 12 with 4:18 left. Rogers finished with 29, while Hubert Davis scored 23 for North Carolina.
"The second half was probably the best half of basketball we've played this season," said North Carolina coach Dean Smith, who extended his record of consecutive 20-win seasons to 22. "We certainly needed it."
NOTES: Florida State had a scare when Cassell, the team's leading scorer, suffered from a severe leg cramp late in the first half. Kennedy said that Cassell has been bothered periodically by cramps and should be back today.