Preview: FSU looks for seventh straight win vs. UF

Florida State’s blend of veterans and youth was put to the ultimate test by Indiana. Playing just its second game of the season, the Seminoles have shown they are still trying to figure out chemistry and coach Leonard Hamilton is deciding which rotations work best.

Hamilton has often said he hopes the Seminoles win while they figure things out. There are certainly areas of improvement, but there’s more than enough athleticism, depth, energy and fight even if at times the jump shots or free throws haven’t fallen and the defense isn’t nearly in midseason form.

“We are a team trying to find itself,” Hamilton said on Friday. “This is the first time we’ve had as many new guys that we’re depending on to be integral parts of our rotation. Tanor (Ngom) and Quincy (Ballard) didn’t play nearly as much as we had planned for them to play but I went with the most experienced guys that I could the other night against Indiana because the game required that. We’re trying to develop for the long term and hopefully we will be able to use the full complement of players in this particular game (vs. Florida).”

Hamilton views the Gators as playing with more tempo, pressing and being more aggressive. Those are reflections Hamilton saw in Mike White’s teams at Louisiana Tech before he moved to Gainesville in 2015.

FSU has won a school-record six straight games in the series, taking back to Dec. 2014 when an “own basket” by the Gators gave FSU a 65-63 win. The Seminoles did not play in football in 2020, but the women’s team picked up a season-opening victory over UF and now the men look to make it a clean sweep of the Gators.

Hamilton joked that he needed a sleepover to make it to the game on time, which is an unusual 11 a.m. start (ESPNU). White spoke to Florida writers about FSU’s win over Indiana and a few observations on the Seminoles.

“Great college basketball game. Just tremendous talent with Scottie Barnes finishing it up with an enormous play,” White told the Gainesville Sun. “Some veterans in RaiQuan Gray and Anthony Polite, and I think Balsa has made a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. Great length. One of the better defensive programs in all of college basketball, as we know, similar to a couple teams in our league. Tremendous rebounding team. They’ve got an incredible era going on there at home, with what they’ve been able to accomplish over the last few years. Tall task for us.”

Sunshine State dominance

FSU has won 10 straight games against a team from the state of Florida. The Seminoles have also won 40 straight non-conference home games, a run that includes the victories over North Florida and Indiana this season.

Wins vs. ranked teams

Florida isn’t ranked in the AP poll but is 25th in the coaches’ poll. Hamilton has won 73 games over ranked teams. What’s impressive is just two came at Oklahoma State and 17 at Miami. Yes, he has won 55 games at FSU over a ranked team.

FSU’s projected starters

FSU will likely start G M.J. Walker (18 ppg., 2.5 rpg.), G Scottie Barnes (11.5 ppg., 5.5 rpg.), G Anthony Polite (8 ppg., 5.5 rpg.), F RaiQuan Gray (10 ppg., 7.0 rpg.), C Balsa Koprivica (12.5 pp.g, 6.5 rpg.).

Among the top reserves RayQuan Evans (4.0 ppg.), Malik Osborne (5.5 ppg., 6.0 rpg.), G Sardaar Calhouln (5.5 ppg., 2.0 rpg.), G Wyatt Wilkes (2.0 ppg., 3.0 rpg.).

Scouting Florida

Record: 3-0. The Gators have defeated Army, Boston College and Stetson.

Lineup: Keyontae Johnson (6-5, Jr.) averages 19.7 ppg., 6.0 rpg, Tre Mann (6-5, So.) averages 15.3 ppg., 3.3 rpg., Tyree Appleby (6-1, Jr.), Scottie Lewis (6-5, So.) averages 10.7 ppg., 5.7 rpg., Noah Locke (6-3, Jr.) averages 11.3 ppg.. Florida typically starts three guards and does not start a center.

Shooting percentage: Florida shoots 56 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range.

KenPom projection

FSU wins 72-69.

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