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Thornton leads Florida St. to upset of Florida

Dec 4, 2006 - 3:19 AM TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Ticker) -- Al Thornton was quite happy to turn around Florida State's struggles against ranked foes at the expense of a heated rival.

Thornton scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half as the Seminoles held on for a 70-66 upset of fourth-ranked Florida in a matchup of intrastate foes.

After starting the season with four straight wins, Florida State (5-2) entered its matchup with Florida with consecutive losses on the road to ranked squads Pittsburgh and Wisconsin.

However, Thornton and his teammates were more than motivated against the Gators (7-2), who had won four of the previous meetings against the Seminoles.

"It definitely was a lot of pressure," Thornton told the Tallahassee Democrat. "I felt we learned a lot from the two road losses. The fans didn't see the real 'Noles. We were playing like a bunch of selfish individuals."

"We missed out on two outstanding opportunities on the road," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton told the newspaper. "Anytime you can get a non-conference victory against an outstanding team like the University of Florida, it can't do anything but help you."

Shooting 47 percent (15-of-32) in the first half, Florida State held a slim 36-31 lead at the break. That advantage grew to 58-43 with 8:35 remaining in the second half on a 3-pointer by Isaiah Swann.

The defending national champion, Florida made a push, closing within 62-59 with 3:42 to play when Walter Hodge capped a 10-2 burst with a 3-pointer.

Despite facing a swing in momentum, Thornton kept the Seminoles afloat with a driving layup with 2:26 left and knocking down a fadeaway jumper on the left baseline for a 68-63 edge with 1:16 to play.

Hodge, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 17 points for the Gators, came back with a shot from the arc to make it a two-point game with under a minute remaining.

After holding on the defensive end, Florida had a chance to take the lead, but Taurean Green attempted an ill-advised 3-pointer that Toney Douglas blocked.

"He did a little hesitation going up," Douglas told the Democrat. "I had to get it because he was hot tonight."

"I thought I got hit," Green told the newspaper.

Thornton came up with the loose ball and was fouled with four seconds left.

Going 7-of-9 from the stripe, Thornton made both free throws to seal Florida State's 17th consecutive home win against a non-conference foe in the regular season.

Thornton, who also grabbed nine rebounds, scored nine of the Seminoles' last 12 points.

Douglas and Jason Rich both scored eight points for Florida State, which had 19 points on 19 turnovers by Florida and committed just 10 giveaways itself.

Green scored 21 points and Joakim Noah, who was battling a bout with the flu, had 11 for the Gators, who absorbed their second loss in three games despite shooting 55 percent (24-of-44).

Al Horford struggled with foul problems for Florida, finishing with four points and six rebounds. He also committed four turnovers and only blocked one shot.

The Gators played their second straight game without junior forward Corey Brewer, who was diagnosed with mononucleosis.

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