Temple guard Shizz Alston Jr. has officially thawed, Owls' fans.
Thanks in part to surprising hot long-range shooting by Alston, Temple was able to storm back from 18 points down in the second half on Thursday to upset No. 25 Florida State 89-86 in the semifinal game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"It's been a tough start (to the season) shooting for me, so when I saw those 3s go in, I just wanted to cry," said Alston, who started the year 2 for 18 from beyond the arc but went 4 of 8 on Thursday and finished with 22 points. "I hadn't made that many 3s in a while, so it felt normal."
Owls freshman guard Quinton Rose played the role of hero for Temple (3-2) on Thursday with a game-high 26 points and six rebounds, including two game-sealing free throws in the final seconds. With Temple ahead by one point, Rose also snared the biggest board of the day with 1.5 seconds remaining following a potential go-ahead shot from Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac that fell short.
Alston's 3-pointer with 6:51 remaining in the game propelled Temple's to its first lead since the opening minutes of the game, and the Owls held off the Seminoles' push to regain momentum time and again.
Temple's win Thursday propels them to the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship game Friday against the winner of Thursday's second game between No. 19 West Virginia and Illinois. Florida State will play the loser of that game.
The Seminoles (4-1) were knocked out rankings the week after the last time they appeared four years ago, and will likely face the same fate next week after entering this season's Top 25 for the first time this week.
"You've got to give them credit: They did what they had to do (to win)," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We were up 18, thought we had three or four possessions where we were impatient. We missed some big shots, and they came down and made some tough shots. They got the momentum going and we just couldn't get it stopped."
Florida State was led for the fourth time in five games by guard Dwayne Bacon with 22 points, and Isaac added 19 points and a team-high seven rebounds in the game, which marked just the fourth meeting all-time between the Owls and Seminoles.
Down 87-86 with 16 seconds left, Florida State got the ball to Bacon, who was tied up underneath the basket on his shot attempt by the Temple defense with four seconds remaining.
Florida State built a 41-31 halftime lead on 50 percent shooting from the field, and the advantage grew to as many as 18 points in the second half. But the Owls went on a 13-3 run with seven minutes remaining to slice into the deficit and set the stage for the comeback.
Temple's leading scorer, forward Obi Enechionyia, came on strong in the second half and finished with 16 points and eight rebounds to round out the Owls who finished in double figures. Enechionyia also recorded six blocks.
Seminoles guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes started hot and led the Seminoles at halftime with 11 points, but he didn't score in the second half. Rathan-Mayes did pace Florida State with six assists, and guard Terrance Man was Florida State's fourth double-digit scorer with 12 points.
NOTES: Temple now leads the all-time series with Florida State 3-1, including three straight wins ... Before Thursday, the teams last met in 1999 with the Owls winning 69-58. ... Temple shot 52.4 percent from 3-point range in Thursday's win (11 of 21) ... Owls G Shizz Alston also added three steals for the Owls ... Florida State continues to struggle from the free-throw line, shooting 66 percent as a team Thursday, including two misses with under two minutes to play.