Morant's breakout season ends in blowout to FSU

Morant looking to get back to work after loss to FSU (1:26)

Ja Morant looks back at the season with Murray State fondly and says he'll look to put shots up tomorrow. (1:26)

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Ja Morant dazzled in the first half of what might be the projected NBA lottery pick's final game in college -- but it wasn't enough as the 12th-seeded Murray State Racers fell to Florida State 90-62 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Morant brushed off questions about declaring for the NBA draft after the game, saying the time for that decision will come later.

"My focus is not on that right now," Morant said. "It's just celebrating this -- what a great season we had -- with my teammates."

Morant finished the night with 28 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He had Murray State fans on their feet early after going 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, flashing his step-back and crossover jumpers.

Morant was the story of the first round, posting a triple-double against Marquette that even had NBA stars Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic marveling at the surefire lottery pick.

But fourth-seeded Florida State was winning everywhere else on the court, forcing turnovers, getting into transition and knocking down 3s.

"We came to the conclusion that Morant was almost virtually unguardable," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said after the game. "So we had to make sure that we defended the other guys that fed off of him. We worked hard and made him earn all his baskets, and I thought we did a really good job defending the other guys, and I thought that really made the difference in the game

With Seminoles forward Phil Cofer watching from the bench just two days after his father died, the Seminoles made good on a vow to honor their teammate and his family with their play. They couldn't have been much better, overwhelming the Racers (28-5) with their size, speed and depth.

"Our guys seem to be coming together here toward the end. Obviously, the tragic situation we have with Cofer and our team has dedicated the remainder of the season to his father and I think that had a little something to do with our motivation tonight," Hamilton said.

Florida State (29-7) is in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year, the first time FSU has pulled that off since 1992-93, where it will face either top-seeded Gonzaga or Baylor.

The Seminoles came into the game shooting 33.4 percent from 3 -- 223rd in the nation -- and then hit eight of their first 11 from behind the arc. Known for their defense, the Seminoles were playing fast and getting good shots. Florida State had a 16-point lead at the half and it didn't get much better after the break.

Christ Koumadje had two easy slams off lobs, Terance Mann tipped in his own miss and Kabengele slammed home another rebound to make it 68-46 with 13 minutes left.

"We rely on a lot of guys to make things happen on the defensive and offensive end," said Mann, who finished the game with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. "And we all have confidence in each other, and I think every guy knows that on the team that we all have confidence in them. And I would say it gives them the ability to kind of play better."

Morant provided a few more highlights, most notably going right at the 7-foot-4 Koumadje and flipping in a layup while getting fouled. Otherwise, it was all Florida State. With about 2 minutes left, Morant drove through three defenders down the lane for a layup that gave him 28 points.

Moments later he departed to a standing ovation from the Racers fans. Morant could be seen on the bench, bent over with a towel on his head in the closing seconds of the game.

"I would say I was just hurt -- not being able to take the floor with these guys for the rest of the season, for another game, or possibly two, three, four," Morant said about what he was feeling as his season came to a close. "But it's been a great season. I really was just thinking back on what all we have accomplished this year, and I'd say I was more hurt not being able to play with these guys for the remainder of the season.

He was the last Murray State player to walk off the court after the final horn sounded, clapping his hands and then getting a pat on the back from coach Matt McMahon.

The Racers won 12 consecutive games to get this far, but still have never won more than one game in any of their 17 NCAA appearances.


Murray State: Morant had only 4 assists, one in the second half, after getting 16 against Marquette. The Seminoles forced the other Racers to make plays and they couldn't deliver.

Florida State: The Seminoles have won eight of nine and are 16-2 since late January.


Murray State: The Racers will face life without Ja Morant.

Florida State: The Seminoles could see an NCAA rematch with Gonzaga. Florida State eliminated the Zags in the regional semifinal last season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.