The Daily Nole

Preview: FSU Opens ACC Play at Cameron Indoor

Mike Olivella/FSU athletics

Florida State will look to make a major statement on Saturday as the No. 24 Seminoles invade one of college basketball’s grandest venues. FSU will look to win its ACC opener for a second straight season on Saturday as it squares off against a top 5 Duke team.

The squads split two match-ups last season with each team winning at home. The Seminoles handled the Blue Devils in Tallahassee, 88-72, but lost in Durham, 75-70. FSU has not won at Duke since Michael Snaer’s memorable buzzer beat on Jan. 21, 2012. The Seminoles would go on to win the ACC that season.

The Match-Up

Who: No. 24 Florida State Seminoles (11-1, 0-0 ACC) at No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (12-1, 0-1 ACC)
When: Saturday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. EST (CBS)
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina

Key Players

For Florida State: At 15.1 points, six rebounds and a field goal rate of nearly 64 percent, junior Terance Mann leads the Seminoles in three different categories. Senior forward Phil Cofer averages 13.4 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting better than 55 percent from the floor. Braian Angola averages nearly 12 points to go with 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

For Duke: Freshman Marvin Bagley leads five Blue Devils averaging in double-figures with team-highs of more than 21 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game. Bagley, a freshman, is shooting 62 percent from the field. Senior Grayson Allen is scoring better than 17 points and averaging 4.3 assists. Wendell Carter, Jr., a 6-foot-10 freshman, is averaging 13.7 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting nearly 62 percent from the field. Gary Trent, Jr. and Trevon Duval are also averaging in double-figures.

What to Watch For

Efficient Offense: Putting the ball in the basket early, often and at an efficient rate hasn’t been a problem for either FSU or Duke this season. Both teams rank in the top 30 nationally in points per game and field goal percentage. At 85.1 points per game, the Seminoles rank 27th nationally while shooting 50 percent, which ranks 26th. Only Oklahoma has averaged more points per game than the 94.2 that Duke is putting up. The Blue Devils rank eight in field goal percentage at .517. It’s worth noting that Florida was the nation’s leading scoring team when the Seminoles went to Gainesville on Dec. 4 and held it to 66 points and 34 percent shooting.

Rebounding: Chris Koumadje, FSU’s 7-4 junior center, is likely to be unavailable in Durham on Saturday, but the Seminoles must find a way to hold their own on the glass. FSU ranks seventh in the ACC in rebounding margin, but Duke is one of the better teams in the country in that category at nearly +13 per game. With players like Ike Obiagu, Terance Mann, Mfiondu Kabengele and Phil Cofer, the Seminoles have the size to hold their own on the glass, but must be fundamentally sound and box out. Duke’s Marvin Bagley’s 10.9 rebounds per game average ranks ninth in the country. The teams were even on the glass in FSU’s last trip to Durham.

Diaper Dandies: Veteran players like Grayson Allen for Duke and Terance Mann for FSU are vital to their team’s success, but freshman talent won’t be at a loss on Saturday — mostly for Duke. Marvin Bagley is arguably the nation’s best player, but Wendell Carter, Jr., Gary Trent, Jr. and Trevon Duval all have very bright futures, even if their stints at Duke are short ones. For FSU, M.J. Walker could offer the Seminoles a huge boost. Walker is arguably FSU’s best athlete and undoubtedly its best NBA prospect. After slumping, Walker came to life with 15 points on 5-for-8 from deep his last time out against Southern Mississippi. Getting a similar effort against Duke would go a long way in the Seminoles pulling the upset.

Terance Mann: In Florida State’s only other contest against a ranked opponent — an 83-66 victory over a then top-10 Florida team — Terance Mann broke out with a career-high 25 points. The leading scorer and rebounder for FSU, Mann has been the team’s heart and soul this season and will need a big game on Saturday. In last season’s win over Duke, Mann finished with 13 points and seven rebounds while shooting 6-for-7. In the loss, Mann was 1-for-6 with three points and three rebounds.

Number to Pay Attention To

6-9: That’s Florida State’s record in ACC openers under head coach Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles opened conference with an 88-72 win over Wake Forest last season. FSU hasn’t won consecutive ACC openers since the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.

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

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