Florida State's Aaron Thomas led all scorers with 22 points to lead the host Seminoles past the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in a first-round NIT matchup on Tuesday, 58-53.
Okaro White contributed 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals for Florida State (20-13), which improved to 11-8 all-time in the tournament. Boris Bojanovsky added eight points and five rebounds off the bench while Montay Brandon registered eight points, six boards and two steals for the Seminoles, who recorded 10 steals.
Bernard Thompson's 16 points led the way for Florida Gulf Coast (22-13), which made its first NIT appearance. Jamail Jones recorded 11 points and six rebounds for the Eagles, whose postseason ends far earlier than last season's NCAA tournament run to the Sweet 16.
After the Eagles built a six-point lead on a 3-pointer from Thompson early in the second half, the Seminoles used an 18-11 charge that featured 14 straight Florida State points from Thomas to pull back in front 46-45 with 7:37 remaining. A jumper from Jones moved Florida Gulf Coast back ahead before White scored six points as part of an 8-2 run to establish a 56-51 lead with two minutes on the clock and after Brett Comer pulled the Eagles back within three, White and Devon Bookert each split a pair of free throws to ice the game.
The Seminoles took an early 9-3 lead before they missed six of their next seven field-goal attempts as both sides struggled offensively in the opening 20 minutes. Filip Cvjeticanin provided the bulk of the offense with eight points off the Florida Gulf Coast bench as the Eagles' starters shot 4-of-15 in the first half, while White's 10 points led Florida State to a 24-19 lead at the break.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Florida State G Ian Miller, who came into the game as the team's second-leading scorer (13.7), missed the game with a toe injury suffered against Virginia in the ACC tournament. ... Comer broke a tie with Bryan Crislip to become Florida Gulf Coast's all-time assists leader with 609 for his career. ... The Seminoles will move on to a second-round matchup with Georgetown, which knocked off West Virginia 77-65.