GAME NOTES: The Florida State Seminoles aim to put an end to a two-game slide today, as they host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in non-conference play at the Tucker Center.
Florida State started off the campaign strong enough with four straight victories and five through the first six outings, with the lone setback being an 82-80 overtime loss to Michigan. However, since then the team has gone down to Florida (67-66) and Minnesota (71-61), the latter taking place earlier this week on the road as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
As for the Gamecocks, they had a much harder time getting into gear coming out of the chute, dropping five in a row before stomping Dalton State, 85-61, on Nov. 22. The team then put together a three-game win streak before suffering a 66-61 setback versus Central Michigan on Nov. 30.
The Seminoles own a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series, but the teams have not played each other in six decades, the last matchup taking place in 1954.
The defense for the Gamecocks could not slow down Central Michigan in the last outing, allowing the Chippewas to convert 60.5 percent from the field overall, including 6-of-12 beyond the arc, en route to the five-point decision. Offensively, JSU had just two double-digit scorers and both tallied a mere 10 points, as Darion Rackley and Rico Sanders combined to shoot 8-of-15 from the floor, the rest of the unit 15-of-35.
Rackley, the overall leading scorer for the Gamecocks after nine contests with 13.7 ppg, has produced more points at the free-throw line (44) than any one of his teammates even has attempts at this stage, although that still doesn't make up for the fact that he has connected on only 26.8 percent of his 3-point tries. Brian Williams is the other player in double figures at the moment with 12.9 ppg, but he too has struggled on the perimeter (.216) as well as at the charity stripe (.567).
The Seminoles held Minnesota to just 34.0 percent shooting from the floor the last time out, an effort that would typically result in a victory for the defensive-minded squad, but not in this case. The problem is FSU ended up turning the ball over 17 times, shot just 2-of-10 beyond the arc and was outscored 28-19 at the free-throw line by the Golden Gophers on the road. Ian Miller tried to save the day with 16 points and seven assists off the bench, but it wasn't enough. Also scoring 16 points was Okaro White, adding eight rebounds before fouling out, while Boris Bojanovsky tacked on 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting display from the field.
Miller, a reserve in every game this season, has connected on all but three of his 38 tries at the free-throw line, en route to a team-best 15.3 ppg. Playing close to 30 minutes per game, Miller is also tops with 31 assists and is currently one of only two players on the roster with more dishes than turnovers. White accounts for 13.9 ppg and 7.0 rpg, but he tends to find himself in foul trouble, limiting his potential.
The Seminoles have had their issues the last couple of games, but as long as White doesn't make an early exit and Miller can ramp up support from more of the starters, this is a meeting that should be decided long before the final buzzer.
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