Tallahassee, FL – The 25th-ranked Florida State Seminoles opening four-game homestand this evening, when they welcome conference action at the Tucker Center.
Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles may not be ready to challenge North Carolina or Duke for ACC supremacy just yet, but Florida State isn't far from it and heads into this season with a great deal of optimism. The team has opened its 2011-12 season with a pair of victories, topping Jacksonville (79-67) and most recently, UCF (73-50). The Seminoles, who close out their homestand with South Alabama on Sunday, will venture outside of Tallahassee for the first time starting next week when the team takes part in the Paradise Jam.
Casey Alexander has yet to lose a game as coach of the Hatters, as Stetson has opened with wins over Bethune-Cookman (65-60) and Florida A&M (78-60) for its new head coach. Following this game, the Hatters will return home to take on Saint Leo on Saturday.
The Seminoles have dominated this series and have won 16 straight meetings with the Hatters, who haven't won since 1975 overall, and haven't tasted victory in Tallahassee since 1952.
The Hatters opened the season with a pair of wins for the first time since the 1952-53 campaign. They have done it despite struggling with turnovers. Stetson turned the ball over 26 times against the Rattlers in their last game, but still posted an 18-point win. Adam Pegg led the team in scoring with 15 points, but was also guilty of a team-high six turnovers. Liam McInerney finished with 13 points in the game, while Chris Perez chipped in with 12 points. The Hatters made up for their miscues by shooting a solid .473 from the floor, outrebounding A&M 54-31 and by taking care of their business at the free-throw line, converting 19-of-21 attempts. After two games, Pegg (14.5 ppg), Perez (13.0 ppg) and Aaron Graham (10.5 ppg) have been the top offensive threats. However, the team already has 55 turnovers to its credit, something worthy of note heading into this game against the always defensive-minded Seminoles.
After struggling with an ankle injury in the season-opener, Bernard James lived up to expectations in the 23-point romp over UCF last time out. James finished with a double-double with career-highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds in the victory, connecting on 8-of-9 shots from the floor. Three others joined him in double figures in scoring, as Michael Snaer poured in 15 points, while Xavier Gibson and Terrance Shannon chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Seminoles, who shot a solid 50.9 percent from the floor in the game, played their usually tough defense, limiting the Knights to just 30.5 percent shooting, including a mere 20 percent from behind the arc. In addition, thanks to James' effort on the glass, FSU outrebounded UCF 46-31 and grabbed 16 offensive boards.