Can the first game of the season be a trap game? FSU and the University of South Alabama played last season, with the Noles winning 80-39. But the score obscured the fact that USA was actually a pretty decent team (they won at LSU, and finished strong in the Sun Belt). The reality was that FSU played one of their best games of the season, and FSU also got lucky. USA was 0-24 from the 3-point line, which is a statistic which the defending team has little control. Furthering the trap-game concept, the Jaguars return all five of their starters, and they've also had a lot more practices than FSU because they took a foreign trip to Canada in August.
Still, this is a team which FSU should beat. But don't be surprised if it's a close game. It's not going to be a repeat of last year.
There's still no word on whether or not Devon Bookert will play. He injured his knee almost three weeks ago, and did not appear in either of the exhibitions. USA will be without JUCO transfer Gregoryshon Magee, who is one of their two players over 6-7. Without Bookert, look for FSU to start with Kiel Turpin, Okaro White, Michael Snaer, Terry Whisnant and Ian Miller. The player to watch for South Alabama is Augustine Rubit, who was an All-Conference performer as a sophomore and has led the Sun Belt in rebounding for two straight seasons.
South Alabama plays a unique style in which they completely sell out on the offensive glass. They were 2nd in the nation last year in OR%. But this is necessary due to their propensity to turn the ball over (331st). Because of those two things, look for FSU to get out in transition whenever feasible. The Noles need live ball turnovers, and they need to convert defensive rebounds into quick transition strikes.
This game is technically part of the Coaches vs Cancer tournament. But it has no real bearing on the outcome. FSU is guaranteed a trip to Brooklyn along with BYU, St. Joe's, and Notre Dame.
The game tips at 7:00 from the Tuck, and will be broadcast on ESPN3. The Noles are favored by 14 by both Vegas and Ken Pomeroy.