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Florida State, Purdue advance with dominant victories in Hartford

HARTFORD, March 23 – In an emotional game for the Florida State men’s basketball team, Terrance Mann scored 18 points, dished out six assists and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the No. 4 Seminoles into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA basketball tournament with a dominating 90-62 win over No. 12 Murray State at the XL Center Saturday night in a second round contest.

The father of FSU teammate Phi Cofer died on Thursday after a long illness. Cofer did not play on Saturday due to a sore foot but remained with the team.

Mfiondu Kabengele scored 22 points for Florida State (29-7), which received 45 points from players off the bench. The Seminoles advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year and the first time since 1992-93.

Murray State star Ja Morant had 28 points for the Racers (28-5), who were overwhelmed early by Florida State. Morant did hit his first five shots from three-point range but it wasn’t enough.

“I thought our guys really locked in. They gave all of the attention to detail,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Obviously, we had to stop them in transition. I thought we did a decent job of that, but we came to the conclusion that Morant was almost basically unguardable. So we had to make sure we defended the other guys that fed off of him. And we worked hard and made him earn all his baskets.

“And I thought we did a really good job defending the other guys, and I thought that really made the difference in the game.

“You know, we’ve had nine or ten different guys lead us in scoring (this season),” Hamilton said. “Some people find that challenging and maybe a little unorthodox, but that’s the way we have to play with the talent that we have in order for us to be successful and our guys have bought into that. We have a tremendous unselfish culture.

“Tonight, Mfiondu came to me at least three times begging me not to put him back in the game because he wanted Christ Koumadje to gain confidence moving forward,” he said.” Matter of fact, before I even asked him, he came up and said Coach, please don’t put me back in the game. Let Christ play so he can gain confidence and move forward.”

Koumadje finished with six points for FSU.

HARTFORD, March 23 — For the third straight year, Purdue men’s basketball advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The No. 3 Boilermakers steamrolled defending national champion and sixth-seeded Villanova 87-61 in the second round game at the XL Center Saturday night.

Carsen Edwards poured in a career-high 42 points – the second-most by a Purdue and Big Ten Conference player in NCAA Tournament history. He made 12 of 21 field goals, including 9 of 16 from 3-point range, and all nine free throw attempts in 39 minutes. Glenn Robinson holds the record with 44 points against Kansas in the 1994 Southeast Regional semifinal.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t say I knew I had a career night until the game was over,” Edwards said. “I was just so focused on trying to get the win. I was out there fighting with my brothers and was able to get the win, and I was able to have some shots fall for me.”

“I thought we played our best game of the year, and you want to be playing your best basketball at this time,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “We got into such a good rhythm offensively, but we also got good balance, rhythm threes and getting the ball to the rim on some slips and getting layups.”

The Boilermakers (25-9) unleashed a first-half barrage of 3-point field goals to seize control against Villanova. Trailing 5-4, they scored 21 points on seven treys in a six-minute span to build a 25-12 lead at the midway point of the first quarter. Edwards drained four of them. Purdue led 43-24 at halftime.

“We tried to make them understand (Purdue’s) ability to hit threes and execute their offense with great precision, and we just didn’t have (Villanova) ready from the start,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “We just gave up, to a team like that, a lot of threes early, uncontested these.

“And then once you get a great shooting team like that going, and then you’re overaggressive trying to take away those threes, then they start slipping,” Wright said. “They get you on the inside, they get you on offensive rebounds. It became an ugly game. I thought it began with their ability to get threes and our inability to recognize where their shooters were.”

Eric Paschall led the Wildcats with 19 points while guard Phil Booth added 15.

Purdue will face either No. 2 seed Tennessee or No. 10 seed Iowa on Thursday, March 28, in an NCAA South Regional semifinal game in Louisville, Kentucky. The Volunteers and Hawkeyes play their second-round game Sunday at 12:10 p.m. ET.

Since 2009, the Collinsville Press has been providing award-winning coverage of sports and news in the Farmington Valley and across Connecticut.

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