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Preview and Game Thread: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders vs Florida State Seminoles, 7pm EST

Despite playing two lower tier opponents to close out 2009, the Florida State Seminoles kept their focus won each contest easily. On New Year's Eve, the Seminoles held the Alabama A&M Bulldogs to 34 points, which is a Tucker Center record. In fact, the Bulldogs only scored 10 points in the second half as the Seminoles went on to win 81-34. Tonight the Seminoles will have their last out of conference game before heading to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins on January 10th. The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders head into Tallahassee to face the 22nd ranked Seminoles.




Game Time: 7pm EST

Television: Sorry folks...last game of the year that won't be televised. The remainder of the games will shown, including 7 nationally televised games on the ESPN family of networks.

Preview inside!

Thursday night's game against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs was an impressive showing by the Florida State defense. The Seminoles held the Bulldogs to an eFG% of 26.9 and only allowed 34 points on 72 possession, which equates to an offensive efficiency of 47.2. For those of you who are not familiar with that stat, Offensive Efficiency is the number of points a team will score given 100 possessions and is a form of tempo free stats. The Seminoles had an offensive efficiency of 112.5 with an eFG% of 56.8. Deividas Dulkys led the way with 19 points, tying his career high.

These two graphs sum up the game quite well:

Other notable individual stats from the game include: Derwin Kitchen's 10 assists with only one turnover, Xavier Gibson's 17 points in 17 minutes, Jordan Demercy's 10 rebounds and Michael Snaer scoring 10 points going 5 for 10 on the night. However, the Seminoles had 20 turnovers for a TO% of 27.8%; Chris Singleton had seven turnovers. As this game was not televised, it's hard to say under what circumstances these turnovers were generated: sloppy play vs. highlight reel plays vs. good defense. Fortunately, the defense has put up some impressive numbers so far this year, and allowing the team to get away with such high turnover number values. Somehow, the Seminoles were able to make their run through the ACC last year with a very high TO% due to their play on the defensive end. It looks like that pattern will need to continue to have a repeat performance this year.

Tonight the Seminoles take on a tough Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (TAMCC) team who played a very close game with the Texas Longhorns on Saturday night. The Islanders lost 76-70 at Texas. TAMCC enters the game with a 5-7 record with wins over Oregon State, Texas Pan American, St. Edwards, Texas A&M International and Panhandle St. Clearly, the win over Oregon St. was the biggest win of their OOC schedule. Their losses are to the following teams: Texas Tech, South Dakota, Mississippi, Houston, Kent St, Monmouth and Texas. According to Ken Pomeroy, TAMCC plays the 19th toughest schedule overall and the 32nd toughest OOC schedule.

At the time of writing this, TAMCC ranked 107th in the Pomeroy ratings with the 78th ranked defense and 171st offense. The defense is clearly the strength of their team as thy are holding opponents to 67.2 points per game and 0.96 points per possession for an defensive efficiency of 96.4. The Seminoles are holding opponents to 57.1 points per game and 0.82 points per possession for a defensive efficiency of 81.5. TAMCC is not very good at creating turnovers however, forcing a turnover on only 18.9% of their opponents possessions. They will sit in a hybrid 2-3 or 2-1-2 zone a good amount of the time. They did this a lot against Texas, particularly with Texas's presence in the paint with Dexter Pittman.

Here is the likely starting lineup for the Islanders:

#4 Terrence Jones 6'2 180lbs RFr Guard

#21 Demond Watt 6'7 210lbs Jr Forward

#15 Kevin Palmer 6'6 205lbs Sr Forward/Guard

#23 Justin Reynolds 6'9 235lbs Jr Forward

#32 Horace Bond 6'8 200lbs Jr Forward

This is a big lineup and is full of the hybrid 2/3/4 players who are able to move in space. They have an average height of 6'8, 18th in the nation, and an effective height of +3.1, which is 22nds in the nation. They also have 2.21 years of experience, which is 34th in the nation. Kevin Palmer is their go to guy and is scoring 20.8 points per game. Demond Watt is averaging 10.9 per game and is likely their best defender. He also cleans up the glass, pulling down 8 rebounds per game. The Islanders like to start their offensive sets in a high flat, 1-4 base with the front court players starting at the free throw line or higher. They then try to use their size and athleticism to run high screens to get good cuts to the basket. They were able to put up 70 points on Texas, which is considered one of the best defenses in the country.

The Seminoles will likely continue with the Alabi, Singleton, Reid, Dulkys and Kitchen look. It seems that Derwin Kitchen has completely changed the focus of his game to be less of a scorer and a true point guard. He had 10 assists in the last game and 27 assists in his last four games with only 6 turnovers. His assist to turnover ratio is now up to 1.8. As you can see from the following chart, the A/T ratio for Kitchen is moving nicely in the right direction:

Loucks is also starting to distribute the ball better as he is averaging 3.1 assists per game, which is second on the team. Once again, look for Michael Snaer and Terrance Shannon to get a good amount of minutes tonight. Snaer is averaging 8.4 points per game in 21 minutes of game play. Shannon is also starting to see increased minutes and has shown good energy on the glass and the defensive end of the court.

Keys to the Game:

1. Limit Turnovers.

2. Finish the OOC season on a high note. Build confidence going into the marathon of conference play that lies ahead.

3. Continue to build the offense. Keep Kitchen on a roll and comfortable distributing the ball. Get Dulkys good looks at the basket. Get Alabi established on the block again. He is going to be key to the ACC run and needs to work on his low post moves again. He hasn't been challenged much in the past few games.

4. Get Singleton the ball moving to the basket. Don't put the pressure on Singleton to create his own shot. He's more effective cutting to the basket and using his athleticism. He does not need to run the show out there. Put him in a position to succeed.

Prediction: Seminoles 72 TAMCC 63

Game Time: 7pm EST

Television: None available.