30-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Holds Off USC in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy of NoleFan.org

Most Florida State basketball fans would remember head coach Pat Kennedy’s tenure with fondness.

Kennedy spent 11 years in Tallahassee and led the Seminoles to five NCAA Tournament appearances. That included a pair of trips past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

His first NCAA Tournament win however, came on this day 30 years ago. FSU held off USC in the first round of the tournament, 75-72.

Setting the Stage

Florida State was in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years. FSU had earned its first automatic berth after topping Louisville in the Metro Championship. At 20-10, FSU had earned a No. 7 seed in the Southeast Region as it arrived at Freedom Hall in Louisville on March 14, 1991.

USC was 19-9 and had earned a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. On the bubble for much of the season, the Trojans arrived on a 3-game winning streak.

The Game

Things started well for FSU as it scored the game’s first eight points. USC rallied to take a 33-31 lead, but at the break, things were even at 38.

In the second half, the Trojans pulled back in front on a jumper by Robert Pack, but FSU responded with a 12-0 run and never trailed again. Doug Edwards got the spurt started with six straight points before Charlie Ward added a fast-break hoop and Rodney Dobard scored a pair of buckets at the rim.

In the second half, the FSU lead would grow to as many as 11, but USC would twice get to within three. Each time, the Seminoles had an answer.

After an 8-0 run midway through the half cut the lead to 55-52, FSU responded with a 3-pointer from Chuck Graham and a jumper by Edwards. USC again closed to within three in the final seconds, but the Seminoles were able to dribble out the clock and hold on for the victory.

Edwards led FSU with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. Aubry Boyd added 12 points, including three late free throws to help preserve the win. Ward and Michael Polite each scored 11 points. Ward also led the team with five assists and three steals.

Pack paced USC with 20 points before fouling out. Harold Miner added 16 points, but on just 7-for-27 shooting. Ronnie Coleman totaled 15 points and eight rebounds for the Trojans in the loss.

In Hindsight

FSU’s NCAA Tournament run would last just two more days. The Seminoles were handled in the second round by second-seeded Indiana, 82-60.

Florida State would go on to reach the Sweet 16 the following season and the Elite Eight the year after that. The 1991 NCAA Tournament victory over USC however, served as FSU’s first in 11 years. It happened on this day three decades ago.



Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.