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Florida State basketball: Mississippi State preview

FSU travels to play Mississippi State in each team's final out-of-conference matchup

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Through 13 games, Florida State fans have had to watch an offense which can't make outside shots try and figure out how to score. Now, they play an opponent facing the same struggles. Mississippi State (6-6) has made just 27.5% of their 3s this season. Their offense overall has been poor, managing a point per possession in just one of their past seven games. It's no surprise that they're 1-6 in that stretch.

If they can't figure out how to win some games, this may be the end of the road for 3rd year head coach Rick Ray. Ray is 7-29 in SEC play in his first two seasons, and currently project the Bulldogs to be favored in one of 18 conference games. The former Clemson assistant has been able to get his team engaged on the defensive end, but their offense has ranked 326th, 260th, and 268th. In addition to being inefficient, they also play at a slow pace. In seven of 12 games they've scored fewer than 60 points.

The Bulldogs are led by versatile 6-5 junior Fred Thomas. He has a good chance to be on the SEC All Defense team, and he's leading Mississippi State in scoring as well at 11.3 a game. He's made 36% of his 3s, but is still just a 29% 3-point shooter for his career. In the past four games he's made just 3-20. Thomas - like most of the Bulldogs - is a very good rebounder.

Senior Roquez Johnson is an undersized post player who is averaging 11.2 per game to go along with 5.8 boards. Gavin Ware, a 6-9 junior, is averaging 10.4 per game but has missed the last two games with a bad ankle. His status for tonight is unclear. He can stretch a defense out to about 17'.

Florida State will have to continue their recent recipe for winning which includes improved defensive play and enough offense to get by. Coach Hamilton is sticking with freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes at the point, allowing him to play through mistakes. He's averaged nearly 36 minutes over the past three games, which will hopefully speed up his learning curve. FSU needs him in command of the offense if they hope to make any noise in ACC play.

This is the final non-conference game, and a win would give the Noles a 5-game winning streak.

The game tips at 8pm and will be broadcast on ESPNU. FSU is a 2.5 point favorite.