Florida vs Florida State Preview

Florida vs Florida State
Dec 4, 2017; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators guard Chris Chiozza (11) drives to the basket as Florida State Seminoles guard Braian Angola (11) defends during the second half at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

What a way to tip-off the college basketball season. Two rivals who know each other very well will meet in the opening game of the season. Both teams have high expectations and it is the Seminoles who come in ranked inside the Top 25 polls.

The Gators travel to the Donald L. Tucker Center to face off against the Seminoles, who come into the game ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 poll.

“I think it’s going to be a great game. A lot of excitement around it,” said Florida State senior small forward Terance Mann, who was Florida State’s second-leading scorer a year ago at 12.6 points a game. “Just to open up against your rivals (at home), it’s going to be an amazing atmosphere.”

Both squads matched up against lesser Florida programs in exhibitions to get ready for this test right out of the gate.

The Seminoles beat West Florida 96-56 in the preseason opener, then dispatched of neighboring program Valdosta State 99-77 last Thursday behind a team-high 15 points from returning starting guard Trent Forrest.

The Gators only got one exhibition game under their belt, a 95-70 win against Florida Southern last Tuesday. Florida was led by fifth-year senior guard Jalen Hudson with 14 points, while freshman forward Keyontae Johnson came off the bench and nearly notched a double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds in the win.

The victory did not mean much to Gators coach Mike White who was not pleased after the exhibition.

“We’ve got a ways to go, first and foremost. We were exposed by Florida Southern in a bunch of different areas,” White told the school’s official website, floridagators.com. “There’s a lot to take from these games, (like) the deficiencies of certain individuals; the deficiencies of our team, offensively and defensively; the fact we looked like a pretty good team in spurts. I don’t know if you want me to go any further.”

Series History

Florida leads the series 43-26, but the Seminoles are riding a four-game winning streak against the Gators coming into Tuesday’s matchup. The streak of Florida State wins started four years on Dec. 30, 2015, and White is 0-3 in his career against the Seminoles.

Last matchup

The two teams last met on Dec. 4, 2017 in Gainesville, where Florida State routed the Gators — who were No. 5 in the AP Top 25 Poll at the time — 86-66. Mann led the Seminoles with 25 points, and Florida State defense held the Gators to just 6-for-25 shooting from the 3-point line.

Projected starters

Florida: Keith Stone (junior, forward), Kevarrius Hayes (senior, forward), Kevaughn Allen (senior, guard), Andrew Nembhard (freshman, point guard) and Hudson, who is Florida’s top returning leading scorer from a year ago at 15.5 points per game.

Florida State: Christ Koumadje (senior, center), Mfiondu Kabengele (sophomore, forward), Trent Forrest (junior, guard), M.J. Walker (sophomore, guard) and Terance Mann.

Florida State head coach is ready for the battle out of the gate…

“We need to have a lot of guys playing well with the style that we play — we play a very aggressive man-to-man offensive style and we’re extremely aggressive on the defensive end,” said Hamilton, who is Florida State’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 305-208. “(This style) requires us to use a lot of energy to go out and execute well. And it takes a little while to get the new guys (in that same rhythm). “

Prediction

What a great way to tip-off the college basketball season, two talented teams who happen to be bitter rivals. The Seminoles have had the Gators number lately and I expect that to continue in a tightly contested affair. The line is at four points right now and I would expect the final to be close to that.

LINE -4 FSU

Florida State 71 Florida 65

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