Gameday: Florida State vs. Florida

The Florida State men's basketball team is finally home after a two-game road trip that saw them drop both contests to nationally ranked opponents Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. Now, the Seminoles must face the defending national champion Florida Gators at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

SEMINOLE TIP-OFF

Florida State plays host to No. 4/4 Florida in a game nationally televised in high definition by Fox Sports on Sunday December 3 at 7:30. The Seminoles' game against the Gators wraps up arguably one of the toughest three-game stretches in college basketball this season as the Seminoles traveled to play then No. 3/4 Pittsburgh (Nov. 24) and to No. 12/12 Wisconsin (Nov. 28) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge prior to playing host to the formerly No. 1 ranked Gators Sunday night. Florida State is undefeated, 4-0, at home this season and has won 16 consecutive non-conference regular season home games – a streak that began with an 83-52 win over South Alabama on Dec. 16, 2004. Included in that string of victories is an 82-69 victory over Florida on Jan. 2, 2005. The Seminoles are 4-0 at home, 0-2 on the road and have yet to play a game at a neutral site this season. Florida State's game against the No. 4 ranked Gators marks its third consecutive game against a nationally ranked opponent and their third of 12 games scheduled against a team in this week's top-25. Following Sunday's game against Florida, the Seminoles travel to play at Stetson (Dec. 5, 7:00 p.m.) and at Georgia State (Dec. 7, 7:00 p.m. before returning home to play host to Southeast Louisiana State (Dec. 10, 2 p.m.). Including their game against Florida, the Seminoles play five of their next seven games at where they are 18-3 (.857 winning percentage) and have lost only one non-conference game (vs. South Carolina, 68-69 in overtime in the second round of the 2006 NIT) since the start of the 2005-06 season.

THORNTON PLAYS WELL AGAINST NATIONALLY RANKED TEAMS

All-America, National and ACC Player of the Year candidate Al Thornton averages 13.0 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting .589 (11-of-19) from the field against the Seminoles' two ranked opponents this season. Thornton is averaging 22.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and is shooting .563 (58-of-103) against seven ranked teams in the last two seasons. He scored his career-high of 37 points at No. 2 Duke (Feb. 4, 2006) and at No. 15 Boston College (Jan. 14, 2006) as he averaged 31.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games against No. 1/2 Duke as a junior.

NEWEST SEMINOLE HAS EARNED SUCCESS AGAINST FLORIDA

Florida State's starting point guard Toney Douglas, who played in the SEC at Auburn during the 2004-05 season, scored 32 points and pulled down four rebounds in his first career game against Florida on Jan. 12, 2005. Douglas established his career best for field goals attempted (23) and field goal percentage (.611) as the Tigers took the Gators into overtime before losing, 87-84.

LOOK FOR FLORIDA STATE TO…

…Defeat Florida and earn a victory over a ranked team for the first time during the 2006-07 season. It would mark the 17th consecutive season the Seminoles have defeated at least one ranked team;
…Defeat Florida and gain a victory over a ranked Gator team for the first time since Dec. 14, 1997 when the Seminoles defeated the No. 16 ranked Gators, 83-81, at the Milk Challenge in Orlando, Fla.;
…Defeat Florida and defeat a ranked Florida team at home for the first time since Dec. 1, 1989 when the No. 14 Seminoles defeated the No. 19 Gators, 104-86, in Tallahassee;
…Defeat Florida and gain a win over a top-five ranked team for the fourth time during the first five years of the Leonard Hamilton era in Tallahassee. The Seminoles most recently defeated No. 1 ranked Duke, 79-75, at home on March 1, 2006.

THORNTON APPROACHING 1,000 CAREER POINTS

All-America, National and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year candidate Al Thornton has scored 90 points in the first six games of the season and now has 921 career points. He needs only 79 points to become only the 38th player in school history to score 1,000 or more career points. Thornton is ranked 48th in scoring in school history and is only the 48th player in school history to score 900 or more career points.

FLORIDA STATE VS. RANKED TEAMS

Florida State enters Sunday's game against Florida with seven wins over nationally ranked opponents during the first four years of the Leonard Hamilton era in Tallahassee. Included in those seven wins by Hamilton-coached teams are victories over No. 1 ranked Duke (79-74, March 1, 2006), No. 3 ranked Wake Forest (91-83 in overtime, Jan. 18, 2005) and a victory over the No. 5 ranked Blue Devils during the 2002-03 season (75-70, Feb. 2, 2003). The Seminoles have three wins over top-five teams at home in the Donald L. Tucker Center.

HAMILTON AGAINST TOP-15 RANKED TEAMS AT HOME

Fifth-year Seminole head coach Leonard Hamilton has a 6-5 record at home in the Donald L. Tucker Center against top-15 ranked teams. The Seminoles have defeated three of the last six top-15 ranked opponents they have hosted at home.

SEMINOLES PLAYING WELL AT HOME

Florida State, which is 18-3 at home in the last two seasons, has won the first four home games for the second consecutive season. The Seminoles won their first four games of the 2005-06 season and improved to 7-0 before falling to North Carolina, 81-80, on Jan. 22, 2006.

SEMINOLES HAVE LIMITED NOAH

Florida State has held Florida's Joakim Noah to a total of seven points (3.5 ppg) and three rebounds (1.5 rpg) in the two previous meetings of the in-state rivals. Noah was held to his lowest point total (three points) of the 2005-06 season by the Seminole defense as Florida State traveled to play on the road.

SEMINOLES HEAT UP GAME GOES ON

Florida State has played its best basketball of its first six games of the season in the second half of its games. The Seminoles are shooting 12 percentage points higher from the field (.540 vs. .420), averaging 7.3 more points and turning the ball over a full one possession less. Despite trailing in the first half of five of their first six games, the Seminoles had trailed at the half only three times and won three of their first five games.

LOOKING INTO FLORIDA STATE'S STATISTICS

Florida State is allowing an average of 3.4 points fewer and averaging nearly one full blocked shot more this season as compared to last season in running out to its 4-2 record entering its game against Florida. The Seminoles are also ranked second in the ACC with their .714 team free throw percentage.

PROBABLE STARTERS FOR FLORIDA STATE

F #12 Al Thornton (15.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg; 17 pts and 9 rebs vs. Florida, Jan. 2, 2005)
F #41 Uche Echefu (7.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg; 5 pts and 1 stl vs. Florida, Nov. 25, 2005)
G #3 Isaiah Swann (6.7 ppg, 3.3 apg; 5 pts and 2 rebs vs. Florida, Nov. 25, 2005)
G #23 Toney Douglas (15.0 ppg, 3.2 apg; 32 pts and 4 rebs. vs. Florida, Jan. 12, 2005)
G #25 Jason Rich (8.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg; 8 pts and 3 rebs vs. Florida, Nov. 25, 2005)

…AND TOP RESERVES

G #10 Ralph Mims (4.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg; 0 pts and 2 rebs vs. Florida, Nov. 25, 2005)
G #11 Jerel Allen (6.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg; 0 pts and 1 asts vs. Florida, Nov. 25, 2005)
F #15 Casaan Breeden (2.2 ppg, 0.7 rpg; 3 pts and 1 reb vs. Florida, Nov. 25, 2005)
F #42 Ryan Reid (3.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg; First career game against Florida)

PROBABLE STARTERS FOR FLORIDA

F #13 Joakim Noah (12.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg; 4 pts and 1 reb vs. Florida State, Jan. 2, 2005)
C #42 Al Horford (13.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg; 14 pts and 9 rebs vs. Florida State, Nov. 25, 2005)
G #11 Taurean Green (12.5 ppg, 3.4 apg; 15 pts and 4 asts vs. Florida State, Nov. 25, 2005)
G #12 Lee Humphrey (9.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg; 11 pts and 2 rebs vs. Florida State, Nov. 25, 2005)
G #15 Walter Hodge (7.5 ppg, 2.1 apg; 10 pts and 1 reb vs. Florida State, Nov. 25, 2005)

FLORIDA STATE VS. FLORIDA – THE LAST TIME

Taurean Green scored 15 points, all from the free throw line, and No. 14 Florida overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Florida State 74-66 on Nov. 25, 2005 in Gainesville. Florida State's top two players, Al Thornton and Alexander Johnson, were in foul trouble much of the game. The Gators took advantage with them on the bench. Florida trailed 40-32 early in the second half when Thornton picked up his fourth foul. With Florida State's leading scorer and most athletic player out of the game, the Gators evened the score at 47 with 12:42 to play and then pulled away with a late 12-0 run. Thornton, who was quicker, more aggressive and more physical than any of the Gators, scored eight points in the first five minutes of the game and carried the Seminoles to a 10-0 lead. But he picked up his second foul and spent the rest of the half on the bench. He picked up two more fouls in the opening minutes of the second half. Florida State led 21-4 midway through the first half, but the Gators used two 3-pointers from Walter Hodge and an 11-0 spurt to get back in the game. The Gators shot 62.5 percent in the second half, but won the game from the free throw line. Green was 14-of-14 from the stripe in the second half.

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