FSU Basketball: Thomas leads most complete effort of season

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Aaron Thomas scored 22 points in the first half of Florida State’s win over Charlotte. (Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE)

Aaron Thomas’ career night leads Florida State’s romp

There is something about the Charlotte 49ers that brings out the best in Florida State guard Aaron Thomas. As a freshman last December, Thomas equaled what at the time was a career-high with 17 points in a hard-fought 79-76 win for the Seminoles. On Tuesday against Charlotte, Thomas set a new career-high in the first half while the rest of his team put forward their most dominant effort to this point of the 2013-14 season.

Florida State routed Charlotte 106-62 at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Tuesday night outscoring the visitors from North Carolina by 22 points in each half. The 22 points happened to be the same number that Thomas scored in the first half for the Seminoles eclipsing his previous career-high of 19 set against Tennessee-Martin earlier this season.

Thomas finished with 26 points, shot 10-for-14 from the field, knocked down three triples and grabbed seven rebounds. Thomas paced six Seminoles in double figures including Ian Miller, who like Thomas came off the FSU bench, to score 18.

Guard Montay Brandon and forward Okaro White both scored 14 points while 7’3″ Boris Bojanovsky and Robert Gilchrist each added 11 on a combined 9-for-13 shooting from the field. As a team, Florida State shot 54 percent from the field while holding Charlotte to 35 percent for the evening.

It was a dominant night for Florida State and it came against a Charlotte team that entered the contest with a pretty solid resume’. The 49ers arrived at Tallahassee with a 7-2 record which included wins over Kansas State and Michigan to take the Puerto Rice Tip-Off, a tournament that the Seminoles also played in.

The only two losses for Charlotte were to Southern Conference powers, Charleston and Davidson — one in overtime and the other by a single point. On Tuesday night however, Charlotte had no answer for the Seminoles.

Florida State broke the 50-point mark in each half and finished the evening with a season-high 22 assists which was eight more than its previous high for the year. Sophomore guard Devon Bookert, who was the only FSU starter not to score in double figures, led the team with eight assists.

While the 22 assists was a season-high, Florida State committed just nine turnovers — a season low.

The 106 points marked the first time that the Seminoles had broke the century mark and their highest scoring effort since December of 2005 when FSU trounced Campbell 108-73. The 44-point victory was also the largest for Florida State since beating Alabama A&M by 47 on New Year’s Eve of 2009.

What is perhaps most encouraging about Tuesday’s victory is the timing of the effort. Florida State has just two non-conference games remaining before beginning ACC play including a big one against a ranked UMASS team on Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Head coach Leonard Hamilton has said that his young team was still searching for its identity and Tuesday’s dominant performance should go a long way to helping them find it as the Seminoles did very little wrong. Florida State had struggled to put two solid halfs togethers, but against Charlotte, the domination lasted from start to finish.

After hard-fought losses to Michigan, Florida and Minnesota in the non-conference, Florida State put together its most complete effort of the young season against a solid opponent in Charlotte. As FSU gets set to face the Minutemen and Charleston Southern before opening a brutal ACC schedule, momentum is heading in the right direction for the Seminoles and Tuesday’s victory was certainly one that they can build on.

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