Gainesville, FL – Instate rivals collide in Gainesville this ranked Florida Gators.
Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles are set to figure into the picture in the ACC this season with a talented lineup. FSU opened the 2011-12 campaign with five straight wins, but then hit a wall with three consecutive losses to UMass (73-53), Harvard (46-41) and Connecticut (78-76 OT). The Seminoles have turned it around since the heart-breaker against UConn and have won three straight at home, including a 77-61 victory over Loyola Marymount in Tallahassee this past weekend.
Billy Donovan's Gators have just two losses this season and they came against national title contenders Ohio State (84-71) and Syracuse (72-68) on the road. Since the loss to the Orange on December 2nd, Florida has strung together four straight victories, including an 82-54 rout of Mississippi Valley State on Monday.
Florida holds a 40-22 lead in the series with Florida State and is 19-6 against the Seminoles at home all-time.
The Seminoles are a dangerous team that is powered by a strong defensive effort game-in and game-out. FSU is limiting foes to just 57.8 ppg this year, holding them to a mere .410 shooting overall, including a meager .294 from behind the arc. In addition. Florida State is outrebounding opponents by just over six boards per game and is forcing 17.5 turnovers per outing. The team lacks a big time scorer, as junior guard Michael Snaer leads the team with 13.2 ppg, despite shooting just .395 from the field. Senior forward Bernard James has dominated up front, averaging a near double-double with 10.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. The Seminoles have struggled all season long with turnovers (18.7 per game), but tied a season-low with 16 miscues against Loyola Marymount. James was once again unstoppable in the low post, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Snaer added 12 points, while Xavier Gibson checked in with 10.
While the Seminoles get it done with solid defense, the Gators go the other route, utilizing superior firepower. Florida is averaging an impressive 86.1 ppg, doing it on a healthy .478 shooting. The three-pointer has been the weapon of choice, with the Gators averaging 11.2 treys per game and shooting .403 from long range. UF also gets dirty on the boards, boasting of a +7.9 rebounding margin. Four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, led by Kenny Boynton's 18.7 ppg. Boynton is one of the top snipers in the country, shooting .466 from behind the arc, with 41 three-pointers to his credit thus far. Bradley Beal and Erving Walker add to the perimeter assault with 15.0 and 14.5 ppg, respectively. Patric Young provides frontcourt balance with 11.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The Gators jumped all over the Delta Devils early and cruised to victory on Monday. All five starters netted double digits in the win, led by Walker's 19 points. Boynton poured in 16, followed by Beal (13 pts), Young (12 pts) and Erik Murphy (11 pts).