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Preview: FSU Returns Home to Face Golden Eagles athletics

The offense has been efficient and the defense has been impenetrable for Florida State during its 3-game winning streak. FSU held George Washington to under 23 percent shooting in Sunday’s 67-48 victory. After playing three of their last four games on neutral courts, the Seminoles will be back home on Tuesday night to take on Southern Mississippi.

For the Golden Eagles, the 2016-17 season has gotten off to a rough start to put it mildly. Southern Mississippi has just one win over a Division I team and was blasted its last two times out against South Alabama and Jackson State. The Golden Eagles won just eight games last season and getting back to that point will be an uphill climb.

The Match-Up

Who: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (3-3) at Florida State Seminoles (7-1)
When: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 at 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Where: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Florida

Key Players

For Southern Mississippi: Guard Quinton Campbell and forward Tim Rowe are combining to average 25 points per game for the Golden Eagles and both are shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Campbell is a big guard at 6-7 who can score inside and out while Rowe is also the team’s leading rebounder at 6-11, averaging 7.4 per game. Rowe however, missed Sunday’s game against Jackson State and his status for FSU is unknown.

For Florida State: Dwayne Bacon is the go-to guy for the Florida State offense, averaging better than 17 points and shooting nearly 51 percent from the field. Freshman forward Jonathan Isaac averages more than 15 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds, but missed Sunday’s game against George Washington with a hip flexor injury. Xavier Rathan-Mayes is averaging nearly 10 points and ranks eighth in the ACC with a 4.5 assists per game average.

What to Watch For

Injuries: Both teams could be without their leading rebounder and second-leading scorer on Tuesday night. Jonathan Isaac is battling a hip injury for FSU and is a question mark. The same is true for Tim Rowe, who at 6-11 gives Southern Miss its best chance at matching FSU’s size inside. Neither being able to go would serve as a blow to each’s collective teams, but Rowe would be a much bigger loss for the Golden Eagles.

C.J. Walker: Freshman guard C.J. Walker’s minutes haven’t increased dramatically, but the 6-1 guard seems to be looking for his offense more in recent games. After averaging a little more than five points in his first five games, Walker has now scored in double-figures in two of his last three, including a team-high 11 points against George Washington on Sunday. Walker also finished with a game-high three steals. In what should be an easy FSU victory on Tuesday, Walker could see an uptick in minutes.

Christ Koumadje: A 7-4 sophomore, center Christ Koumadje really seems to be making strides as a player. Koumadje is shooting 68 percent from the field this season and is coming off an 8-point, 3-block effort against George Washington. With Rowe possibly out for the Golden Eagles, Koumadje could be facing a front line without a player taller than 6-7.

FSU defense: As mentioned before, the Florida State defense has been lights out of late. The last three FSU opponents have combined to shoot just 29 percent from the floor. On Sunday, the Seminoles held the Colonials to 14-for-62 from the field. Against Division I competition this year, Southern Miss is averaging less than 61 points per game.

Number to Pay Attention To

32-5: That’s the combined total Florida State has been outscored by to conclude its last two basketball games. Against Minnesota last week, the Golden Gophers closed the game on a 14-3 run to trim a 19-point lead down to eight and on Sunday, George Washington closed the game on an 18-2 run to cut the lead from 35 to 19. The games were already well in doubt with many reserves on the floor, but failing to finish games could be a problem as the season goes on.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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