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No. 4 FSU Advances to Sweet 16 over No. 12 Murray State; Ja Morant Drops 28

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23:  Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers is defended by M.J. Walker #23 of the Florida State Seminoles in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The fourth-seeded Florida State Seminoles put an end to the Ja Morant show, defeating the 12th-seeded Murray State Racers 90-62 in the second round of the 2019 NCAA tournament at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, on Saturday.

Mfiondu Kabengele led the way for the Seminoles with 22 points and seven rebounds, and Terance Mann contributed 18 points.

Morant had 28 points, four assists, five rebounds and two steals in a losing effort for the Racers.

After becoming just the eighth player since 1984 to record a triple-double in the NCAA tournament, Morant let it be known that he had more in store for the basketball world.

Early on, he made good on his word.

The Racers star got his team on the board with a trey in the opening minute:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Ja Morant is out of the gates with the early 👌 #MarchMadness | @RacersHoops https://t.co/aSsBVaADgw

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He was only heating up, though.

Moments later, Morant would knock down a pair of triples on back-to-back possessions that helped his team out to an early lead before giving himself a heat check from the logo as he started 5-of-5 from deep:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Ja Morant is putting on a SHOW in Hartford. 🔥 The @RacersHoops' PG is 5-5 from 3 at the half. #MarchMadness | #MorantMadness https://t.co/XASroY51tM

Morant had 17 points in Thursday's 83-64 upset of fifth-seeded Marquette. Thanks to 5-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc, he had 16 points in the first 11 minutes and 30 seconds of this contest.

Michael Thomas @Cantguardmike

Ja Morant might be Top 2 and not 2 👀

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

Ja Morant has nine points, one block, one assist, one rebounds and one steal so far. Murray is up 13-7, and Morant somehow keeps exceeding the hype. he's been incredible so far. #JMU

Unfortunately for Murray State, Florida State was able to withstand Morant's hot start and put on a three-point barrage of its own. The Seminoles made eight shots from deep in the opening 20 minutes, with Raiquan Gray and PJ Savoy each knocking down three.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Florida State comes out 🔥 to hold the 29-23 lead over Murray State! #MarchMadness | @FSUHoops https://t.co/mOZc9o8GmU

As Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports noted, Florida State didn't enter the game as much of a three-point shooting team:

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

Florida State is No. 223 in the country in 3-point field goal percentage. (33.4-percent). FSU is shooting 7-for-10 tonight. Murray is 5-6, with Ja shooting 5-5. FSU's looks are way too easy, as Murray lacks the defensive edge it had against Marquette.

It wound up shooting 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) from beyond the arc as a team.

And when they weren't making it rain from the outside, the Seminoles were still having their way with the Racers:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

A MANN'S JAM! 🔨 Terance Mann extends Florida State's lead to 14! #MarchMadness | @FSUHoops https://t.co/gnmIr8iss9

The first half was played at an incredibly fast pace, and as a result, Florida State was able to drop a 50-spot on Murray State. That created a 16-point edge heading into the break.

Morant continued to fight in the second half, but the Racers were overmatched in this 4-12 matchup. Murray State players not named Morant shot just 30.0 percent from the floor, while Florida State shot 50.7 percent as a team. That's a recipe for disaster.

     

What's Next

Florida State advances to the Sweet 16, where it will face the winner of No. 1 Gonzaga-No. 9 Baylor in Anaheim, California, next week.

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