Jones County product Smith finally gets NCAA trip with Florida State

FGCU men's basketball team celebrates after winning the Atlantic Sun conference tournament on Sunday March 5

FGCU men's basketball team celebrates after winning the Atlantic Sun conference tournament on Sunday March 5

Selection Monday went about as well as the Florida Gulf Coast University women's basketball team could have hoped.

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles first got some attention in 2010, when Chris Sale was named National Pitcher of the Year in his final season before becoming a first-round pick, and, ultimately, a five-time MLB All-Star.

The Gators (25-8) broke a two-game losing streak and will play fifth-seeded Virginia (23-10), which defeated No. 12 UNC-Wilmington 76-71, in the second round on Saturday.

Florida maintained a lead throughout the first half despite a horrid shooting performance. "I feel like it's a great opportunity to show the world what Florida State really is". I know everyone seems to be picking against us, but that's just because it's the easy thing to do. The Gators have plenty to get past ETSU, but we think their run ends at the hands of Virginia in the Round of 32.

"It's going to be a fun game", FSU sophomore Terance Mann said.

Apart from him, the Eagles also have big man Demitris Morant to worry about.

Maryland is looking to advance against 11th-seeded Xavier (21-13), arguably the most favorable matchup for a higher seed in Orlando. In three of those trips, the Eagles haven't had to leave the state. "We just had to take it to a new level", he said, via Drew Copley of Fox 30 in Jacksonville. "We want to be looked at as ourselves".

FREE THROWS: Per terms of his contract, White earned a $37,500 bonus for leading the Gators to an NCAA Tournament berth. "But it will be a very exciting game to watch".

As with most power conference programs, Miami has a size advantage over FGCU. The 6-foot-2 guard is also pulling down over four rebounds nightly for good measure.

Though it has height, Miami is led by a pair of guards.

Smith has averaged 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game while playing 13.5 minutes per game this season. They are the only Hurricanes averaging in double figures. But he doesn't know much about the Hurricanes this season.

FGCU practiced at UCF on Tuesday.

"This was great for us to get back on the right side of the win/loss column", White said, via Copley.

"We think it's going to be entertaining for us", FGCU's Christian Terrell said.

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 10: Keith Stone #25 of the Florida Gators shoots the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the quarterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 10, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. They beat Mississippi State on the road and only loss to Tennessee by four points.

For this year's team, tournament success is a chance to get out from the shadow of 2013.

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