March 17, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Alexander Johnson's two baskets in the final minute lifted Florida State to a 67-63 win over cold-shooting Butler in a first round National Invitational Tournament game Friday.
Johnson's jump-hook put the Seminoles ahead 64-63 with 51 seconds left and his putback on a missed free throw by Ralph Sims with 19.4 seconds sealed the victory for a team intent on proving that it was slighted when left out of the NCAA tournament field.
Avery Sheets hit a 3-point basket with 2:22 left to give Butler a 63-61 lead.
The 6-10 Johnson finished with 20 points and nine rebounds while teammate Jason Rich, who sparked an early second-half run, led all scorers with a career best 22, including 13 in the second half.
Brandon Polk led Butler (20-13) with 21 points, but was limited to just five in the second half. The Bulldogs shot an icy 33.8 percent in the game and were just 8 of 37 from 3-point distance.
"Defensively, they recovered as well as any team we've played against," said Butler head coach Todd Lickliter after the contest. "We just could not get any good looks. We'd try to cause a rotation, and they'd be there. They contested shots. We just weren't able to get clean looks."
Four quick Rich baskets helped Florida State gain a 47-36 lead, but the Bulldogs clawed back to cut the margin to 50-48 on a three-point field goal by Bruce Horan. The margin remained at six points or less for the final nine minutes of the game.
Florida State (20-9) started with an 11-2 lead as Butler hit just one of its first 10 shots and just 3 of their first 21 and still were within three, 33-30, at halftime.
Polk scored 16 in the half to keep his team in the game.
Florida State will host South Carolina on Tuesday in a second-round game.