Wayne McGahee III

Florida Gators locked in on Florida State Seminoles guards

Tuesday’s rivalry game features two standout freshmen for Florida State.

The Seminoles come to Gainesville led by freshmen guards Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley. They’ve changed the Florida State basketball program in just 11 games.

When Florida forward Devin Robinson turned on the film of the Seminoles, he expected to see the same thing he did last year -- a long, lanky team that made its biggest impact on the defensive end of the floor. Instead, Robinson saw the difference Bacon and Beasley have made on the team. They’re combined for 34.5 of the Seminoles’ 82.9 points per game.

“These guys go,” Robinson said. “They have two great freshmen they got this year. Bacon and Beasley. They go. They leak out, get the ball and they score. They’re scoring machines.

“Our defense has to step a lot this game to contain that. If not, it’ll be a long night.” 

The immediate impact isn’t much of a surprise. Bacon was a five-star player and the No. 19 player in the 2015 recruiting class. He has stepped in to average 17.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. The freshman has 14 assists and 24 turnovers to go with 12 steals.

Beasley, a four-star recruit who was the No. 56 player in the 2015 recruiting class, leads the Seminoles with 17.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 42.6 percent (20-47) from behind the three-point line this year, easily the most deadly shooter on the Florida State roster.

Only one Florida State player other than Bacon and Beasley averages more than 7.5 points per game.

“With the addition of their two freshmen wings, the two Bs, Bacon and Beasley, they’ve become very talented offensively,” White said.

The Gators have faced similar tests so far this season. During their 66-55 loss at Miami earlier this month, Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez -- two guards that can create their own shot and get hot at any moment -- tested Florida. The duo combined for 41 points while shooting 12-20 from the field and hitting six three-pointers.

The Gators learned their lesson that night. They have to be locked in on defense on every possession because it only takes one for a scorer to get hot and take over the game.

“One thing we looked at is that a mistake or two early in the game that gets one of them going, you’ll end up paying for it late,” White said. “You can say, ’coach that’s a hard shot, we forced a tough two and that’s what we’re supposed to do’ but it was that mistake five minutes or seven minutes into the game that contributed to getting hat guy going and helping him get his confidence.

“With Bacon and Beasley, if you give them any easy look or a transition layup uncontested or uncontested three on a failed rotation, it just contributes to how difficult those guys are to defend.”

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