The season's narrative is beginning to take shape. FSU (5-3) began the season well, beating a favored UCF team at their place and then getting the all-important OOC signature win over VCU. Even their losses after that were encouraging. An OT loss to Michigan and a 1-point road loss to Florida sandwiched a grinding 62-60 win over Northeastern in a game that FSU would have likely dropped last year.
Then came the Minnesota game where FSU lost their poise early and were beaten handily. Now, against an overmatched opponent, the Noles are in a situation where they need to win convincingly in order to get their confidence back.
This is just the 3rd home game for FSU. No other ACC team has played that few. The Seminoles have played three true road games and three neutral site games, playing to a smart schedule that should help in March. But in order for that help to be useful, FSU first has to take care of business at home. Last year FSU lost four times at home in OOC play, which kept them out of the conversation come Selection Sunday.
Devon Bookert, in particular, needs to get back on track for this team to be successful. In the first four games of the season (all wins) he averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. In the most recent four games (1-3) he's averaged 4.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He hasn't been playing with confidence, and aside from his game winner vs Northeastern he's been pretty much invisible.
As a team, FSU needs to keep improving their defense, and keep scoring at the rim. FSU has been excellent in transition, and their best half court offense has been pounding the ball inside to Okaro White, Michael Ojo, and Boris Bojanovsky. Bojo has made 11 consecutive shots and is hitting 73% from the floor.
Today's opponent is Jacksonville State (3-6) out of the Ohio Valley Conference. At the rate they've been playing, they'll be battling not to finish at the bottom. They are about the same level of competition as Jacksonville and Tennessee Martin, teams FSU beat by 24 and 28 respectively.
With FSU coming off back-to-back losses, I'd like to see them control this game early. They should be up double digits for the entire 2nd half and win by 20+.