FSU-Indiana preview: Gray slims down, shows energy

Leonard Hamilton doesn’t demand his forwards and centers play a high volume of minutes. But the minutes played need to be played at maximum energy.

With that in mind, RaiQuan Gray decided his offseason focus would be on shedding a few pounds and getting his body right so he could deliver in whatever role, starter or reserve, and provide leadership as a veteran. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room,” said Gray, who estimates he is down 10 pounds to 260 compared to where he was in March when FSU’s season ended. “More of a muscular, toned feel. I’m using it to my advantage right now. … I wanted to be in the best shape so I could provide great minutes and help my team get wins and do whatever they needed me to do down the stretch.”

Gray did look noticeably slimmer in FSU’s opener, starting and playing 18 minutes. He shot 4 of 8 from the floor and had eight points, pulled down five rebounds and had four steals. His energy on both ends of the floor was evident.

Now, after a full week off, FSU is set for its second game as the “New Bloods” take on basketball blue blood Indiana on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. (ESPN). FSU traveled to Indiana last season, an 80-64 loss in a game that was difficult timing on the schedule with a quick turnaround following the Seminoles’ games in the Thanksgiving tournament in Fort Walton Beach.

This is the first time Indiana has ever played at FSU.

“For them to come to Tallahassee, definitely means a lot as a basketball fan,” Gray said. “They’re a great program. They hold a lot of history. So for them to come to the Tucker Center on a Wednesday, ESPN game, that means a lot to me and Florida State in general. We’ll be prepared and ready to play those guys.”

Listen to more of the Osceola’s interview with Gray on the Tuck Talk podcast.

Home dominance

FSU is in the middle of one of the most dominating runs in college basketball, winning 24 straight home games. The Seminoles are 66-3 at the Donald L. Tucker Center since the end of the 2015-16, winning 95 percent of its home games. FSU’s success in Tallahassee will be tested by an Indiana team that is competing in its fifth game of the 2020-21 season, while the Seminoles are playing game No. 2. The home atmosphere also won’t be as intense with students home for the rest of the semester (there are no in-person classes between Thanksgiving and finals week) and the arena will allow only about 2,600 fans due to social distancing.

Matchup to watch

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton heaped praise on Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds. Jackson-Davis had 12 double-doubles as a freshman and is coming off a game in which he scored 31 points with six rebounds in a win over Stanford.

“Jackson-Davis is a man child,” Hamilton said. “He reminds a lot of (former FSU center) Bernard James, who was here. Left-handed, strong, finishes well around the basket. He’s a matured, confident guy. He’s a handful. I haven’t seen anybody really keep him from what he does. He’s just efficient.”

It’s likely FSU will switch defenders but a matchup to watch is forward Malik Osborne and how he fares against Jackson-Davis.

Projected starting lineups

FSU: F RaiQuan Gray (8 ppg., 5 rpg.), C Balsa Koprivica (13 ppg., 5 rpg.), G Anthony Polite (7 ppg., 3 rpg.), G Scottie Barnes (8 ppg., 6 rpg.), G M.J. Walker (17 ppg., 4 rpg.).

Indiana: F Trayce Jackson-Davis (21.5 ppg., 7.0 rpg.), F Race Thompson (11.5 ppg., 7.5 rpg.), G Armaan Franklin (8.8 ppg., 5.5 rpg.), G Rob Phinisee (8 ppg., 2.5 steals per game), G Trey Galloway (6 ppg., 2.8 rpg.).