If there is a game this season that could be defined as a trap game, this is it. Coming off an exciting over time victory in Atlanta over a ranked Georgia Tech team is the perfect recipe for a young team to take a nose dive playing against an opponent like Tennessee-Martin. It would be easy for the Seminoles to relax and feel comfortable that their win against Georgia Tech guarantees wins against the next few opponents. This is not the time to cruise, but to continue to develop from that game as the true ACC season is rapidly approaching. Tonight, Florida State will take on the Skyhawks from Tennessee-Martin at the Tucker Center. Continue reading for the preview.
Game Time: 7pm EST
Winning a road game in the ACC was a major necessary hurdle that the Seminoles would need to cross at some point. Heading into Sunday evening's game in Atlanta, few thought it would be this early in the season, nor would it occur in the way that it did. The Seminoles defense was able to shut down, frustrate and limit Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors at the offensive end of the court. One could argue that one or the other could be limited, but not both. Now it is time for the Seminoles to move on and take care of business with the schedule between now and January 10th when they head to College Park, Maryland to take on the 'Terps.
The University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks enter the game with a 1-8 record. Their only win is over Harris Stowe (Mo.), which is an NAIA Division I team. The remainder of their opponents include the following: Southern Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas St, Morehead St, Eastern Kentucky, Missouri St, Central Arkansas and Evansville.
Currently, the Skyhawks have an Offensive Efficiency of 88.7, 304th nationally, and a defensive efficiency of 107.8, 282nd nationally. They rank 349th in the nation in the RPI, compared to Florida State at 31. UT-Martin currently averages 66.8 points per game and are scoring 0.9 points per possession. They allow 80.4 points per game, which equates to 1.09 points per possession. The Seminoles are averaging only 69 points per game but only give up 58.2 points per game. If you translate that to tempo free stats, the Noles are only allowing opponents to score 0.85 points per possession. The average points scored per possession in college basketball is 1, technically 0.99. That is why the Seminoles have the 6th best defense in the nation statistically. The only teams ahead of them are: Texas, Minnesota, Purdue, Duke and Temple. The ACC has five teams in the top 20 in defensive efficiency.
Where UT-Martin is going to have significant trouble against Florida State is in their ability to shoot the ball. Seems like an obvious point, but consider this: UT-Martin has an eFG% of 41.1% on the year. Only two of their opponents this year have a defensive efficiency of 120 or better (Missouri and Missouri State). They also turn the ball over at a high rate (TO% 23.8) They do, however, force their opponents to turn the ball over on 22.1% of possessions. It seems that UT-Martin tries to beat you by running you out of the gym. They have one of the highest tempos in the game. But, as Tomahawk Nation demonstrated earlier this year, tempo does not equal success. As none of their games have been played on ESPN360, we are not able to paint a great picture of what their offense or defense is really like.
Here is UT-Martin's likely starting lineup:
F #1 Benzor Simmons 6'5 215lbs Junior
Unfortunately for the Skyhawks they are one of the relatively short teams in Division I basketball. Not every conference can be as lucky as the ACC in that every team has at least one seven footer. Their average height is 6'3. The Seminoles' average height is 6'7. Plus the effective height of the Noles is +4.2, compared to - 1.6.
Benzor Simmons is their go to guy. He is averaging 20 points per game and is shooting 50% from the floor and has an Ortg of 109.5. The Skyhawks do go to their bench early and often as they have three players on the bench who are averaging 10+ points per game: Spencer, Clayton and Lane.
The Seminoles will continue with the Alabi, Singleton, Reid, Dulkys and Kitchen lineup. It would be nice if Michael Snaer is able to get some significant playing time tonight. If the Seminoles can come out with the energy they had in Atlanta, this should get out of hand rather quickly. Though, for those of you who have been following the Seminoles long enough, this could be a close game. However, this team does not compare with that of a Georgia State or Jacksonville or Stetson. The paint should be owned by Alabi, Gibson and Reid tonight. Alabi only needs two more blocks to move into 5th place in school history for career blocked shots.
Keys to the Game:
1. Don't get caught looking ahead. A loss to a UT-Martin would be an ugly mark on the resume.
2. Limit the turnovers. Get rid of the silly mistakes. Focus and be on the same page the entire night.
3. Continue to develop the offense. Work the beautiful high low game we saw at times last night. Get Snaer involved.
Prediction: FSU 79 UT-Martin 51
Game Time: 7pm EST