The Daily Nole

Preview: FSU Plays Third Game in Six Days

Don Juan Moore/FSU athletics

Leading up to Florida State’s winter break, the Seminoles’ basketball team hasn’t had many breaks — unless of course, that’s fast breaks. On Thursday, FSU will play its third game in six days as it hosts Nicholls. The defense has been lights out lately for the Seminoles, allowing opponents to a combined 29 percent shooting during their 4-game winning streak. FSU beat Southern Mississippi on Tuesday night, 98-49.

Nicholls is an even 4-4 on the season, but one of those victories includes a win over Boston College. The Colonels are coming off a 32-point defeat at the hands of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Seminoles handled Nicholls to open the 2015-16 season, winning 109-62 in Tallahassee.

The Match-Up

Who: Nicholls Colonels (4-4) at Florida State Seminoles (8-1)
When: Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 at 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Where: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Florida

Key Players

For Nicholls: Senior slasher Ja’Dante’ Frye leads the Colonels averaging nearly 15 points and 6.5 rebounds. Frye is shooting 52 percent from the field and has decent range. DeAndre Harris and Jonathan Bell are averaging 14.1 and 13 points, respectively. Harris leads the team, averaging nearly two steals while Bell, like Frye, is grabbing more than six rebounds per contest.

For Florida State: Averaging nearly 17 points per game, Dwayne Bacon continues to be the straw that stirs the FSU offensive drink and he’s been efficient, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. Jonathan Isaac, a freshman forward, averages 15.1 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game, but has missed his last two with a hip flexor. Xavier Rathan-Mayes averages more than nine points and 4.8 assists per game.

What to What For

P.J. Savoy: In just his third career game, junior college transfer P.J. Savoy scored a career-high 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting and 7-for-10 from deep in Tuesday’s win over Southern Mississippi. The Seminoles have struggled to shoot from deep this season, but a healthy Savoy could go a long way toward changing that.

FSU defense: Florida State’s defense over the last four games has been absolutely suffocating. The last four FSU opponents have combined to shoot just 29.3 percent and average only 56.3 points. Nicholls is averaging better than 77 points per game and has four players averaging in double-figures. Though the Colonels aren’t a big name, they will provide a tougher test for the FSU defense than Southern Miss.

Liam Thomas: Senior center Liam Thomas isn’t a player who puts up huge numbers for Nicholls, but a guy who could make a big impact on Thursday. At 7-1 and a lean 200 pounds, Thomas is an outstanding shot-blocker, averaging 3.4 per game, which ranks ninth nationally. Against an FSU front line that features 7-4 Christ Koumadje and 7-1 Michael Ojo, Thomas could be a difference-maker and keep the Seminoles from dominating the paint.

Dwayne Bacon: Dwayne Bacon made his collegiate debut against Nicholls last season, finishing with 23 points and eight rebounds in an FSU rout. Bacon is again leading the Seminoles in scoring, but has been rather quiet in recent games, averaging just 11.5 points over his last two on just 39 percent shooting. Against a team Bacon was dominant against last season, the sophomore could be in for a big night.

Number to Pay Attention To

.511: That’s the percentage FSU has shot from the field this season, which ranks seventh nationally. For Nicholls, the struggles have been on defense as the Colonels are allowing opponents to shoot 49 percent and score 81 points per game. Each of the last two Nicholls opponents have hit the century-mark, which is something FSU has already done twice this season.

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

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