Florida State’s depth and height proved way too much for upstart Murray State and star guard Ja Morant on Saturday night, as the fourth-seeded Seminoles reached the West Region semifinals of the NCAA Tournament with a 90-62 rout in Hartford, Conn.
Senior guard Terance Mann paced Florida State’s starters (29-7) with 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Mfiondu Kabengele came off the bench to net 22 points, going 10 of 12 from the field, and Raiquan Gray chipped in 11 to go along with five steals.
The Seminoles, who will meet either Gonzaga or Baylor in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif., canned nearly 51 percent of their field-goal tries and were 11 of 27 on 3-pointers. They also dominated the much smaller Racers on the glass, earning a 45-33 advantage.
Morant, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard who would likely be a lottery pick if he declares for the NBA Draft this summer, poured in a game-high 28 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. But he made just 8 of 21 shots from the field after a hot start, as Florida State’s length appeared to bother him.
Shaq Buchanan scored 12 points, and Darnell Cowart added 11 for 12th-seeded Murray State (28-5), which converted just 33.3 percent of its field-goal tries. The Racers also couldn’t cope with the Seminoles’ superiority off the bench. At one point in the second half, Florida State owned a 30-0 advantage in points off the pine.
Morant, who dropped a triple-double on Marquette in Murray State’s emphatic first-round win on Thursday, looked capable of doing it again early in this one. He scored 10 points — with three 3-pointers — and assisted on a Buchanan layup as the Racers took a 14-7 lead less than five minutes in.
But the Seminoles promptly rattled off a 15-4 run, taking the lead for good on a Kabengele layup with 13:09 left in the half. The margin gradually grew, hitting double figures on a Trent Forrest layup with 7:20 remaining and reaching 50-34 at the half as Mann dunked with 42 seconds on the clock.
The Racers never got closer after the break.
—Field Level Media