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Florida, FSU march into Sweet 16

March 24, 2011
From AP wire reports

Just like everyone else in college basketball, Florida is quite familiar with Jimmer-mania.

Jimmer Fredette's production - 28.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game - is impossible to ignore. If anything, BYU's senior guard is getting stronger, scoring at least 30 points in six of his last seven games.

Second-seeded Florida doesn't buy that third-seeded BYU will be a one-man team when they meet in the NCAA tournament regional semifinals Thursday night in New Orleans.

The Gators know from experience.

BYU beat Florida 99-92 in double overtime in a first-round game last season. Fredette scored 37 points, but what really hurt the Gators was a career 26-point game from reserve guard Michael Loyd Jr.

Now with a second chance, Florida's players say they have plenty of respect for all of the Cougars - even if it's Fredette who is dominating the highlights.

"The game plan isn't just to stop Jimmer," the Gators' Chandler Parsons said. "They've got a complete team. We had a taste playing against them last year and now we understand just how good they are. We don't have to watch film to understand that. They're strong and they execute."

Florida is almost the antithesis of BYU, with multiple seemingly anonymous options who can hurt opponents during any given game. Four players average at least 11 points and the Gators often use a 10-man rotation.

Parsons, the SEC player of the year, is maybe the best example. The 6-foot-9 senior is averaging 11.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists, can step out and hit three-pointers, is a solid defender and doesn't make many bad decisions. But he's nowhere near the superstar that Fredette has become.

The 6-foot-2 shooting specialist has a well-deserved reputation as a nearly unstoppable scorer. He's shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 40.6 from three-point range despite constant double teams, but has also proven capable at creating for others.

He's an unassuming superstar, with an easy laugh that keeps teammates loose and a surprisingly small ego for such a prolific scorer.

"I'll be a willing passer if they're going to double-team me and try to take away my scoring," Fredette said. "But if they're kind of single covering me and I see opportunities to score, that's what I'll do."

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Florida State has a date with Virginia Commonwealth hoping that star 6-9 forward Chris Singleton is ready for more playing time.

Singleton - the Seminoles leading scorer and rebounder - played sparingly in Florida State's wins last weekend over Texas A&M and Notre Dame. He missed five weeks with a broken right foot, but it's healed sufficiently to get back onto the court - if only for short periods.

"We couldn't use not having Chris as an excuse," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

Hamilton was reluctant to use Singleton at all last week in the opening round of tournament play in Chicago, but his star player had worked feverishly to rehabilitate the foot injury and had been given medical clearance.

"I could not deny him," said Hamilton, who is well known for being cautious with his injured players. "The hard work that he put in. He was so determined to be a part of the team in any way that he could possibly help."

Hamilton isn't sure about how he'll use Singleton against Virginia Commonwealth (26-11) Friday night, but knows his junior wing player is getting healthier by the day.

"You don't miss five weeks and come back and pick up where you left off," Hamilton said. "Hopefully, before we finish the season he'll be back to where he was."

In his last full game before the injury, Singleton scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Seminoles to a 72-63 win at Georgia Tech on Feb. 10.

Singleton's 13 points a game has been offset mostly by increased production from the team's two oldest players, center Bernard James and Derwin Kitchen, and its two youngest, freshmen Okaro White and Ian Miller.

Florida State (23-10) is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 18 years. The 1992-93 team advanced to the Elite Eight before being bounced by Kentucky.



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