Through 11 games, No. 24 Florida State basketball (10-1) has exceeded expectations, and is one of just 21 teams nationally with fewer than two losses. A lot of that success, though, has come against a weak schedule, and today’s afternoon tilt with Southern Miss (7-4) is no different.
They are markedly improved from last year (a team FSU beat 98-49), but that’s not saying much as they were one of the worst teams in the nation. Now they’re just in the bottom half of Conference USA.
Four of their wins have come against non-Division I opponents. They’ve played two top 100 teams (Michigan and South Dakota), and though they lost both, it was only by an average of 13.5 points.
Their best player returned in 6-2 junior Cortez Edwards. He rarely comes out of games, averaging 17.2 points and 6.4 rebounds. He’s averaging over 23 points in their last four games.
Oklahoma State transfer Tyree Griffin joins him in the backcourt. He’s reminiscent of Florida’s Chris Chiozza, and rivals him for one of the speediest players in the game. FSU has had trouble containing quick guards this year, and in response has often gone to a 3-2 zone. The 5-10 Griffin averages 15.6 a game, and he’s more of a perimeter threat than Edwards.
Another D1 transfer is 6-4 Dominic Magee, from Grand Canyon, who is averaging 11.9 per game.
Kevin Holland is their 3-pt specialist. He’s just 6-1, but against D1 competition has made 54% of his 3s.
Due to injuries to some of their bigger guys, Southern Miss is the smallest team in college basketball. They grind games to halt on both ends of the floor. They commit the fewest turnovers in basketball, but don’t do much else well on offense.
On defense they force a lot of turnovers, but are easy to score on if you take care of the ball.
FSU will need to get a lead early, to try and force the hand of Southern Miss. The longer the Golden Eagles stay in this, the more their slow tempo will upset the Seminoles.
This has a high likelihood of being an ugly game, and the ‘Noles just need to pick up the win and go home for Christmas.
The game tips at 2 PM from the Tuck, and will be streamed live on Watch ESPN. FSU is favored by 21.5.