GAME NOTES: As part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Florida State Seminoles will tangle with the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Williams Arena.
The Seminoles nearly pulled off an upset against in-state foe Florida on Saturday, but fell short by a 67-66 final against the nationally-ranked Gators. Florida State now owns a 5-2 overall mark with the two losses coming by a combined three points.
Minnesota is returning to the mainland after spending last week competing in the Maui Invitational. The Golden Gophers are limping back from the event after going 1-2, with the lone win coming in the finale against Chaminade (83-68). Minnesota has gone 4-0 at home and is 6-2 overall as it begins a seven-game homestand.
These teams also matched up in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge a year ago. The nationally-ranked Golden Gophers got the win in that contest (77-68). That win evened the all-time series at four wins apiece.
Although they tied the score four times in the second half, the Seminoles were never able to pull ahead against the Gators. Florida State knotted the game for the fourth time when Ian Miller made a pair of free-throws with 27 seconds left in regulation. Florida's Dorian Finney-Smith split a pair of free-throws on the other end after collecting an offensive rebound to win the game. The Seminoles still found success on the defensive end in the loss to Florida. Florida State limited the Gators to just 38.3 percent shooting, which is right in line with its overall efforts this season.
Through seven games the Seminoles have been letting up a 38.5 field goal percentage to their foes. Miller (15.1 ppg, 3.4 apg) leads the team in scoring and assists despite playing every minute this season off the bench. Aaron Thomas (10.7 ppg) is also a strong reserve for the Seminoles, who benefit from having a reliable second unit. As far as starters go, Okaro White (13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Devon Bookert (11.4 ppg) are the leaders.
Minnesota made up for a lackluster shooting performance by beating up Chaminade on the inside, while forcing 20 turnovers. The Golden Gophers outscored Chaminade, which actually led at halftime, 38-24 in the paint and had a 24-5 edge in points off takeaways.
There are also four double-figure scorers that reside on the Minnesota roster. The top two options are Andre Hollins (15.9 ppg) and Austin Hollins (12.9 ppg, 7 rpg). The duo was subdued against Chaminade, combining for just 17 points on 6-of-20 shooting. DeAndre Mathieu (10.4 ppg, 5.4 apg), normally a facilitator, turned it on as a scorer against Chaminade, netting 17 points. Malik Smith (10 ppg) is the best option off the bench, though he could certainly afford to improve his shooting (.387 FG percentage).
The two Hollins for Minnesota aren't likely to have back-to-back down efforts. Florida State can hang on the interior with the Golden Gophers, but don't match up in the backcourt.
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