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Familiarity finds its way between Missouri and FSU ahead of NCAA Tournament game

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BRANSON MO NEWS: NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Walking past the signatures of entertainers that line the walls of Bridgestone Arena, Cuonzo Martin spotted someone in garnet-and-gold.Those are Florida State’s colors, by the way. And the someone was Seminoles senior forward Phil Cofer.The two embraced just 24 hours before their respective teams play in the NCAA Tournament, symbolizing the connection between the two teams — a connection spoken about Thursday by Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton.

“I’ve always had a healthy respect for Cuonzo,” Hamilton said. “We’ve had a lot of, I guess you’d call, fireside chats — off the record conversations that we’ve had to have about the challenges of our business.”The challenge for each coach will come on the court Friday night. No. 8 seed Missouri (20-12) will take on No. 9 seed Florida State (20-11) at approximately 8:50 p.m. Friday.The game marks Missouri’s 27th all-time tournament appearance. It also marks the fourth time the Tigers are playing in the tournament as an 8 seed.Ironically enough, the last time Missouri was an 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament was the last time Missouri made the tournament — 2013. That year, Martin was Tennessee’s coach. There, he recruited Cofer and earned a signing from the 6-foot-8 forward until Martin left for California.Cofer is a major piece to Florida State’s team, a team with length and the ability to score the basketball.“They’re talented,” Martin said of Florida State. “They’re a really good team.”Martin applauded the way the Seminoles score in transition. He also marveled at the pressure Florida State’s defense and length applies.Missouri senior guard Kassius Robertson said Missouri’s defense is going to be the key for the Tigers to extend their Nashville stay to Sunday. Even with senior forward Jordan Barnett suspended on …



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