TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)—Al Thornton is so important to Florida State that Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton almost feels guilty about it.
Still, Hamilton isn’t shy about going to his team’s biggest strength.
Thornton scored 28 points, including two free throws with 4 seconds left, and Florida State upset No. 4 Florida 70-66 Sunday night.
“It’s a shame he has to go out and get 28 points every night for us to win,” Hamilton said. “Tonight we had to go with Al.”
Thornton scored 18 in the second half, missing just once from the floor. He finished 10-for-16 for the game and also had nine rebounds.
“There’s no doubt he was ready to play tonight,” Hamilton said.
The Seminoles (5-2), who had lost their previous two games by a total of 37 points, led 36-31 at the half and built the lead to 55-41 before Walter Hodge’s 3-pointer with 3:02 left got the Gators to 62-59. Hodge’s shot capped an 18-7 Florida run.
Hodge hit another from long range to cut it to 68-66 with 53.2 seconds left, but Florida State’s Toney Douglas blocked a 3-point attempt by Taurean Green with 4 seconds left and Thornton was fouled as he picked up the loose ball.
“The shot we took was not a good one,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “We tried to turn it on at the end, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Green scored 21 and Hodge added 17 for Florida (7-2). The Gators were without 6-foot-9 starting forward Corey Brewer, who missed his second game with mononucleosis. Joakim Noah finished with 11 after scoring just two points in the first half.
“Green was having his way with us in the first half,” said Hamilton, whose team buckled down and held Green to six points after halftime.
Isaiah Swann added 11 points for Florida State, which shot 46.6 percent and committed just 10 turnovers, compared to Florida’s 19.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first half with our turnovers,” Donovan said. “Turnovers … and our inability to have an answer for Al Thornton.”
A pair of Douglas baskets just 19 seconds apart ignited a 14-3 spurt that gave Florida State an 18-10 lead in the first half. The Seminoles’ biggest lead in the half, 36-27, came on a Thornton dunk following an offensive rebound.