What Leonard Hamilton said after Florida State advanced to the Elite 8 with win over Gonzaga

Florida State is heading to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993 after downing four-seed Gonzaga 75-60 on Thursday inside Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

It is the third time in program history that Florida State has reached the Elite Eight. FSU joined Kansas State on Thursday to become the third and fourth 9-seeds in NCAA Tournament history to reach the Elite Eight.

The Seminoles rattled off an 11-1 run to at the end of the first half to turn a one-point deficit to a 41-32 halftime lead. Gonzaga trimmed the deficit to within two possessions on five different occasions, but could not get any closer.

Terance Mann, who played through a groin injury to get FSU to the Sweet 16, recorded a game-high 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting. All 11 players who played for Florida State scored.

Sophomore forward Killian Tillie reaggravated a hip injury during practice that forced him to miss the game. He started in 35 of Gonzaga’s 36 games and averaged 12.9 points per game.

Florida State will play Michigan on Saturday at 8:50 p.m. ET with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

Here is what Leonard Hamilton had to say after the victory Thursday:

On balanced scoring: “We’re a team that operates on the philosophy that we have to win games by committee. This has been our philosophy for a number of years. We try to get the guys to buy into being 18 strong — we have T-shirts that say “18 Strong” — because they believe that there is strength in numbers.

We’re in the ACC and there are a lot of one-and-done’s and McDonald’s All Americans, so in order for us to compete, we have a number of guys contributing night in and night out. We’ve had just about everybody on our team has led us in scoring at one point in time. Our guys feel that they are able to contribute offensively and defensively because of that philosophy.”

On reaching the Elite Eight: “This team has had confidence all year long that we were capable of doing some good things with the opportunity that has been presented. We’ve had some very good games. Our youthful inexperience has raised its ugly head several times and it’s cost us. But we’ve maintained a level of confidence that if we keep learning, keep growing and keep maturing that we could put ourselves in this position.

It’s interesting that we’re probably the only ones that think we were capable of doing this. It’s fun because we’re always the underdog and we’re scratching and clawing to put ourselves in a position to do it.”

On being one game away from the Final Four: They deserve to have an opportunity and to realize it’s right there in front of them. What we have to do now is not allow ourselves to get too far ahead of ourselves. We have to stay focused and continue to keep doing what has gotten us to this point. That’s what we talked about in the locker room after the game.

The most important thing is for us to stay dialed in together and making sure that we’re focused and understand that the team that has the right mental approach more than likely will be the team that’s going to be successful, because every team in the tournament is good. The team that’s dialed in, the team that’s playing connected with that level five commitment that we talk about as a staff, as a team, sometimes we feel they’re the team that normally comes out on top.”

On the impact of Killian Tillie’s injury: “I’m sure that it had a significant difference in their team and their rotation that it obviously hurt the quality of their depth. But they’re a good basketball team. It was unfortunate that he didn’t have the opportunity to play.”

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