Fouls add up, as Fla. State falls in OT, 81-78

NEW YORK — NEW YORK -- One of these years, Florida State is going to meet Indiana at full strength. It didn't happen last year in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, and it didn't happen last night in the semifinals of the Preseason National Invitation Tournament.

The seventh-ranked Seminoles, already depleted by the absence of point guard Charlie Ward because of full-time football duties and shooting guard Chuckie Graham because of a season-ending knee injury, lost seniors Sam Cassell and Doug Edwards to fouls in overtime before losing to the Hoosiers, 81-78.


After Cassell fouled out with two minutes to go, Florida State (2-1) still led, 73-72, on a baseline jumper by Bob Sura with 1:42 to go. But All-American Calbert Cheaney, who would finish with 34 points, hit four straight free throws to put fourth-ranked Indiana (3-0) ahead for good. Edwards, who had 16, fouled out with 1:02 left in overtime.

The victory wasn't secured until Cheaney made the second of two free throws with two seconds to go and the Seminoles couldn't get off a shot before the buzzer. The win put the Hoosiers into tomorrow night's 7:30 final against sixth-ranked Seton Hall, a 73-64 winner over No. 21 UCLA.


"Any time you lose two guys like Sam and Doug down the stretch, it's going to be hard," said Florida State coach Pat Kennedy, whose Seminoles have been eliminated by Indiana from each of the last two NCAA tournaments. "But Indiana makes it tough on you anyway. It's a difficult system to play against."

It's actually a system that the Seminoles are trying to emulate defensively this year, scrapping the zones they've played in the past for a more aggressive man-to-man. Kennedy saw Indiana's system close up on a visit to Bloomington last week, at Bob Knight's behest.

Their defense helped the Seminoles recover from an early 13-point deficit to take a 12-point lead with 12:20 left in regulation. But eventually, it resulted in foul trouble on Cassell and Edwards, as well as their ultimate disqualification in overtime.

"I thought we had it when we went up 12," said Edwards. "But they're a great team. I think their experience showed."

Cheaney gave Florida State fits early and late, but the play of junior forward Pat Graham inspired Indiana's second-half comeback. After not taking a shot and playing only five minutes in the first half, Graham hit five of six shots in the second half, finishing with 14 points.

During a 20-8 run that wiped out Florida State's 56-44 lead, Graham and Cheaney combined for all of Indiana's points. Though he nearly became the goat, losing the ball to Cassell before Edwards sent the game into overtime with a turnaround 10-footer with six seconds left in regulation, Graham certainly affected the outcome last night.

"When we got down 10 or 12 points, we would have had a tough time coming back. The big, big part of our comeback was the play of Pat Graham. He gave us a big lift," said Knight.

Graham won't be able to provide the same kind of lift for the Hoosiers tomorrow night. It was announced late last night that Graham broke a bone in his left foot -- the same injury he suffered last season -- and will be out indefinitely.


Unfortunately for Florida State, nobody was there to give the Seminoles a lift after Cassell (18 points) and Edwards (16 points, 12 rebounds) fouled out.

"I think it's a learning experience," said Cassell, the senior from Baltimore who finished seven of 20 shooting to go along with five of 24 by backcourt partner Bob Sura. "Coach [Kennedy] says that any loss early will help us later on."

Maybe in the NCAA tournament.

Maybe against Indiana.

"Certainly it's a team we could see down the road," said Kennedy.

NOTES: In the second game, Terry Dehere scored nine of Seton Hall's last 11 points, including a three-pointer that broke a 62-62 tie. Dehere finished with 27, while 7-2 junior center Luther Wright added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Pirates (3-0). Ed O'Bannon led UCLA (2-1) with 16.