Preview and Game Thread: Georgia State Panthers vs Florida State Seminoles, 7pm EST

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After a well deserved break, the Seminoles look to start another log run of games as they take on the Panthers from Georgia State. The Seminoles will play 11 of their next 16 games at home. However, those away games are all against ACC opponents (Georgia Tech, Maryland, Duke, Boston College and Clemson), meaning there are no more warm up games away from home.

The Seminoles finished the initial third of their season with a 7-2 record and exhibited moments of brilliance and stretches of frustration. Georgia State enters tonight with a 5-4 record with losses to NC State, Drake, IUPUI ad South Alabama. This should be a great game to get Florida State off to a good start as they make the final run up to ACC Conference play.


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Game Time: 7pm EST

Television: FSFL/NESN

Expectations heading into the season were cautiously optimistic with big questions regarding the replacement of Toney Douglas's leadership, defense and scoring. The Seminoles started the season with a bang, putting up big points and shutting down teams. This run led up to the match up with Florida that resulted in an a relative slowing that persisted through the Seminoles Old Spice Classic Championship.

Believe it or not, this team is not statistically different than it was at this point last year:

 

 

Where the frustration, or disappointment derives from is the relatively rapid decline in offensive success that has returned the Seminoles' offense to what were or are likely expected levels.The most noticeable difference is the points against average. Keep in mind, that through nine games last year, the Seminoles were 8-1 and allowed three opponents to score more than 70 points. The only team to score more than 70 points against FSU this year is Ohio State. Only two teams have scored more than 65 points against the Noles: Florida and Ohio State.

It's unlikely that Georgia State will score more than 65 points either. The Panthers currently rank 314th in the nation for offensive efficiency and are scoring an average of 59 points a game, with a season high of 77 points against Carver Bible. They have an eFG% of 44 and shoot 65% from the FT line. They also turn the ball over on 25.7% of their possessions, with a high of 32.6% against IUPUI.

Before the confidence builds, Georgia State has one of the best defenses, statistically, in the country. Their defensive efficiency is 88.4, ranking 23rd in the nation. They limit their opponents to 41.7% eFG% and force turnovers on 24% of their opponents possessions. Their opponents only score 65 points a game against the Tigers. They play almost all man to man defense.

Here is the likely starting lineup for the Panthers:

3 Marques Johnson 6'5 205lbs Guard R-Jr. Fort Wayne, Ind.

1 Trey Hampton 6'7 225lbs Forward R-Sr. Hoover, Ala.

23 Xavier Hansbro 6'10 230lbs Forward R-Sr. Trezevant, Tenn

11 Trae Goldston 6'0 175lbs Guard Sr Decatur, Ga.

2 Joe Dukes 6'1 175lbs Guard R-Sr. Cuthbert, Ga.

Dukes, Hansbro and Goldston are all averaging in double digits and have scored over 50% of the team's points this year. Dukes was third team all-conference last year and started his collegiate career at Wake Forest. Last year, he led the team in points, assists, minutes and steals and was second in rebounds. It would be easy to say that if the Seminoles shut down Dukes, they will handle Georgia State. However, that has not been the case as he has had great games and poor games during wins and losses this year. Goldston is their three point threat and Hansbro has the ability to play on the block or step out and hit a three. Once again, the Seminoles will see a small lineup.

Florida State will start Kitchen, Dulkys, Singleton, Gibson and Alabi. This is a huge lineup that should give Georgia State absolute fits. If the big men get rolling early, the transition to full court press by Georgia State will occur rather early in the game. This will be Gibson's second career collegiate start. In 15 minutes per game, he is averaging 6.5 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. This is a dynamic lineup that has a great deal of athletic ability despite its size. If GSU moves to the press, it's likely that Snaer would replace Gibson or Alabi. Gibson tends to move better in the open court than Alabi. The Seminoles need to get comfortable using both big men on a regular basis as it will be necessary to be successful in ACC conference play. Currently, Alabi and Singleton contribute over a third of the offense. They need to continue to be effective.

Keys to the Game:

1. Keep the offense on track. GSU may have a great defense statistically, but who have they played? Put up big numbers on this defense. Build the confidence before Auburn and then heading to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech.

2. Establish the big guys in the paint. This isn't to help the Seminoles win this game, but to prepare for the Yellow Jackets, who are seeing excellent production out of their young big man Derrick Favors.

3. Turnovers. Georgia State is going to be all over the ball trying to force turnovers and to prevent FSU from using its size advantage. This will likely be on the keys to the game for the rest of the year. With this offense, the Seminoles cannot afford to give up opportunities on the offensive end.

4. Let Snaer show his skills. Get the young man some confidence, particularly on the offensive end. His defensive contributions have been outstanding. Keep him going to the basket.

5. Who is your point guard? The ACC season starts very soon. This needs to be answered quickly as the unit needs to be confident going into conference play.

The Seminoles should win this game. However, there will need to be a bit of rust shaken off before things really get started. Look for a slow first half with lots of mistakes. The Seminoles should start to open up the lead by half time and continue to increase by the end of the game. Last year, the Seminoles only won by five in Atlanta.

Prediction: FSU 73 Georgia State 61

Television: FSFL/NESN

Game Time: 7pm EST

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