Preview and Game Thread: Auburn Tigers vs Florida State Seminoles, 7pm EST

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Coming off a 62 - 55 win over Georgia State, the Seminoles turn their attention to the Auburn Tigers as they try to go two for three against the SEC this year. The Tigers are currently 5 - 4 and will be playing their first game in 10 days. This is the final game before the Seminoles start ACC conference play against Georgia Tech on December 20th. Take a look inside for the rest of the recap of the Georgia State game and for tonight's preview.

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Game Time: 7pm EST

Television:  FSFL/NESN

On Tuesday night, the Seminoles broke out of the gates and went on a 23-8 run to start the game. Solomon Alabi was scoring easy buckets in the paint and it appeared that the Seminoles would pull away. They only turned the ball over once, but once they got into cruise control mode, the turnovers increased and Georgia State pulled within four points with a little over a minute to go in the first half. Florida State responded to Georgia State's run and opened up a 12 point lead at the half. With 9:46 to go in the second half, the Seminoles had a 17 point lead and appeared to be cruising to victory. However, Georgia State battled their way back into the game during a turnover happy second half that resulted in a closer game than many expected.

Georgia State had a good defense statistically heading into Tuesday night's game, but their level of competition was rather poor. They entered Tuesday night's game with an agenda to play tight, pressure man to man defense and it worked. Turnovers. They forced turnovers and took advantage of the opportunities provided by them.

 

 

 

This was the highest TO% that a Georgia State opponent had all year and Florida State is the best team that Georgia State has seen thus far. The key to the game was that Florida State really limited the Panther's eFG% and did a nice job on the offensive boards. Florida State currently ranks 337 out of 347 in TO%. This game had moments that the Seminoles played up to expectation and moments that they played to the level of their competition. Regardless, it is a win and it was a well earned after a week off.

Tonight, the Seminoles focus on their third SEC opponent of the year: Auburn. Entering the game, the Tigers have a 5 - 4 record with victories over Virginia, IUPUI, High Point, Alabama A&M and Niagra. They lost to Troy, NC State, Central Florida and Missouri State. They currently have an Offensive Efficiency of 98.7 (Rank: 200) and a Defensive Efficiency of 93.1 (Rank: 73). Playing good defenses in the non-conference schedule will only help the Seminoles in the long run.

The Tigers will likely start the following lineup:

F #4 Lucas Hargrove 6'6 205lbs Senior Pontiac, SC
F #34 Johnnie Lett 6'8 210lbs Senior Mobile, AL
G #12 DeWayne Reed 6'1 175lbs Senior Houston, TX
G #20 Frankie Sullivan 6'1 185lbs Sophomore Uniontown, AL
G #24 Tay Waller 6'2 180lbs Senior Manchester, GA

Once again the Seminoles face another small lineup on a guard heavy team. The average height of the Tigers is 6'4, ranking 212th in the nation. The Seminoles, however, are the tallest team in the nation for the second year in a row with an average height of 6'7. Their effective height ranks 10th in the country. Advantage Noles.

The Tigers, however, are a relatively experienced team and have a number of JUCO transfers. Last year, the Tigers made it to the quarter finals of the NIT tournament, losing 74-72 to Baylor. The Tigers have 1.92 years of collegiate experience compared to 1.28 for the Seminoles. As more and more players are making the move to the NBA after one year of college, the experience numbers are trending downward.

DeWayne Reed and Lucas Hargrove are the work horses for the Tigers, playing in excess of 80% of the team's minutes. Reed is averaging 15 points per game, Hargrove puts up 13, as does Sullivan. Reed has started 68 games in his career at Auburn and is their leader. His offensive rating is 95 and he has a reasonable TO% of 20 for a true point guard. Frankie Sullivan is statistically their best offensive player with an ORtg of 113; he also shared Auburn's Sixth Man of the Year Award as a freshman.

As a team, the Tigers do a few things well and a number of things not so well. First, the poitives: jump shots inside the arc and forcing turnovers via steals. Once again, the Seminoles are facing a smaller lineup that generates a lot of turnovers. Auburn forces teams to turn the ball over on 23.8% of possessions. They are shooting  53.6% from inside the three point line. On the flip side, they do not shoot well at all from behind the arc, with a 29% three point shooting percentage. Additionally, they do not shot well from the free throw line. Despite the fact that they create so many turnovers, the Tigers do not do a good job limiting turnovers on the offensive end with a TO% of 22.3%.

The Seminoles will likely start: Kitchen, Dulkys, Gibson, Singleton and Alabi. Once again, the Seminoles will need to be effective early in the paint to keep this lineup in the game for long stretches of the game. If the turnovers start to climb as Auburn increases its pressure in the back court, it won't take long for Hamilton to move to his smaller lineup. This was the lineup that worked to a 15 point lead in the first half. One concern is that there may be a drop in concentration as players come off the bench with such a large lead, meaning the 'no reason we can't continue to run up the score no matter what we do' attitude. This is simply a theory/reflection on Tuesday nights game. The Seminoles need to play a complete game; they have yet to do that this year.

Keys to the game:

1. Take care of business early. Auburn is coming off an exciting victory over Virginia in which they scored on a last second basket. Do not give them any hope that they can win this game. Continue to establish the front court game. Alabi started to show some nice footwork on low post moves during the last game. Keep buidling his skill set.

2. Force Auburn to the perimiter. Auburn has yet to prove it can reliably shoot from behind the arc. With the Seminoles interior defense, their eFG% should be low for the night and lead the Seminoles to victory. Auburn has lost every game in which its eFG% is less than 50% except for their game against Niagra.

3. Turnovers.  This has to be fixed and may continue until their is an absolute understanding of who is going to run the show. There have been flashes of good games from all of the Seminoles guards, but the go to guy has yet to be solidified. 

4. Win big. Confidence. Resume. Up next: Georgia Tech. Put together a complete game.

Florida State should win this game. However, Auburn is going to enter the Tucker Center with confidence and mission to knock off another ACC team. On paper, this should be a big win for the Seminoles, who are currently favored by 13. Knowing the tendencies of this team, it will likely be a low scoring affair in which turnovers will dictate the scoring patterns, resulting in the dreaded stair case pattern of scoring that has troubled the Seminoles previously.

Prediction:  Seminoles 67 Auburn 58

Game Time: 7pm EST

Television: FSFL/NESN

Online Viewing: Justin.tv

Go NOLES!!!

Cheers,

TC

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