The Seminoles bring a 9-2 record to the O’Connell Center in Gainesville on Tuesday with their two losses coming against Hofstra in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam and at Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Freshmen Dwayne Bacon (17.2 points) and Malik Beasley (17.3 points) lead the Seminoles in scoring while 7-3 center Boris Bojanovsky averages 7.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and has 19 blocks on the season. Florida coach Mike White said FSU point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes is “one of the best point guards we’ll play all year.” The Seminoles provide a difficult test for a Florida team still searching for a big win.
“They’re as talented of a team as we’ll play all year,” White said. “They’re as big and long and as athletic of a team as we’ll play all year.”
Bojanovsky has been a problem for the Gators over the last two meetings. His 7-3 size has been a problem in paint. In 2013, Bojanovsky gave Florida center Patric Young problems while going for 14 points and almost springing the upset over a Gators team that went to the Final Four. Last season, Bojanovsky had 10 points, two rebounds and three assists against a Florida team that struggled to get any defensive presence in the paint.
The Gators are hoping redshirt sophomore John Egbunu can be the difference. His 6-11, 255-pound frame makes him a physical defender and could be what the Gators need to slow Bojanovsky.
“I think Egbunu will help us a lot this year with this size,” Florida sophomore Devin Robinson said. “He can outmuscle him. The guy is not as strong as John, from what I can see. I think that will affect his game a little bit this year.”
White added, “(Bojanovsky’s) really long and really big and he takes up space. He’s a really good defender. He’s got great length and he can move his feet. He’s just one piece of what makes them very good defensively.”
The Gators have won five of the previous six meetings with the Seminoles, but this FSU team looks different. They can score and are much more versatile on offense thanks to the additions of Bacon and Beasley.
“They’re very offensive based,” Robinson said. “More than any other FSU team. They usually focus more on defense, but their transition offense is amazing, one of the top in the country. We know they definitely have a good game on the backboard. They gamble a lot on defense and deny on the wing, so that makes it harder to catch the ball on the wing. We’ll have to change it up a little bit and adjust to their defense a little bit.”