WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ilian Evtimov had five 3-pointers in the first
half and scored 18 points, helping North Carolina State hold off
Florida State 70-54 Thursday in the opening round of the Atlantic
Coast Conference tournament.
Engin Atsur added 17 for the Wolfpack (18-12), who moved on to
the quarterfinals and a rematch with Wake Forest. In the teams'
previous meeting earlier this week, Wake Forest point guard Chris
Paul punched NC State's Julius Hodge in the groin, leading to a
one-game suspension for Paul.
Even though Paul won't be there Friday, the matchup is sure to
be emotionally charged, particularly considering how the Demon
Deacons won that game. Justin Gray hit a tying 3-pointer in the
final minute, then Paul drove the length of the court in the final
seconds for a runner to win it.
That loss dropped the Wolfpack to 7-9 in the ACC, so even their
dominating victory over the Seminoles (12-19) likely won't be
enough to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Hodge had 14 points and seven assists to help N.C State coach
Herb Sendek improve to 12-8 in the ACC tournament. Point guard Tony
Bethel left early in the second with an injury to his left leg, and
his status for the rest of the season wasn't immediately clear.
Anthony Richardson led the Seminoles with 16, but leading scorer
Von Wafer had only two, 10 below his average.
For Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, the outcome at the MCI
Center probably took him back to his days as coach of the
Washington Wizards. He went 19-63 in his first season, then
resigned after a long meeting with then-boss Michael Jordan.
The Seminoles scored only 19 points in the first half -- two more
than their previous low -- and shot 31 percent. Meanwhile, the
Wolfpack took control, with Evtimov leading the way.
The 6-foot-7 forward is the perfect piece for their
Princeton-style offense, a deft ball handler and passer who has
tremendous shooting range. He swished a 3 about a minute into the
game to give NC State the lead for good at 3-0, and he added four
more during the rest of the half to tie the school record for
3-pointers in an ACC tournament game.
The Wolfpack stretched the margin to 24 points in the second
half before the Seminoles used a furious rally to get to 59-51. Al
Thornton capped the comeback with a putback before NC State
finished off their fourth straight opening-round victory at the
free throw line.