Georgia Tech at Florida State
Georgia Tech (8-13, 1-6) at Florida State (14-6, 5-1), 7:00 PM, RSN/ESPN3
Florida State is rolling right now, but they’ve had six days off and Georgia Tech might just have found some offensive confidence against a good Carolina defense on Sunday. But the Seminoles play four of their next five at home and could easily enter their last five games of the season at 10-1 (their road game is at Boston College). But it starts with this one, and so far, the Seminoles have been winning games like this.
Stat to watch: Florida State’s field goal percentage. The Seminoles have caught fire, shooting 50% or better in two straight games and shooting 50% in their last four (averaging 81.3 points). In their first two league games, they had shot 38.1% and averaged 61 points. FSU has also improved its three-point shooting from 28.1% in the first two league games to 47.1% in the last four. Can they continue at this torrid pace, or will it fall off? And if their defense continues to be dominant, will that even matter? But certainly if FSU can continue to shoot as well as it has – or even at a 43-45% clip – its defense will be more than enough to give them wins most nights, including tonight.
Georgia Tech’s defense was excellent out of conference, holding opponents to 37.8% shooting (31% from three) and just 59.9 points per game. But in league, it’s gone way down hill: they’re allowing 72 points on 45.8% shooting (40% from three). In their last four games, it’s been even worse: Virginia, Clemson, Miami and North Carolina have shot 49.5% from the floor (48.5% from three) and averaged 72.8 points. Georgia Tech only allowed three teams to shoot over 40% against them out of conference. In ACC play, five have shot 45% or better and six have shot 40% or better (out of seven opponents). Georgia Tech has to hope FSU starts to miss a few shots.
Most important players: Okaro White, Florida State and Julian Royal, Georgia Tech. All year long, White has had just six double-figure scoring games: three have come in the last four games. The gangly sophomore has been a big reason for FSU’s offensive resurgence as he has asserted himself, shooting 13-of-28 in the last four games (9-of-16 in the last three) and 14-of-14 from the foul line, adding 11.8 points in that span. He had ten rebounds against North Carolina (six offensive) and clearly bothered Carolina’s John Henson on both ends of the floor. He has seemingly been in foul trouble all season but has committed just three in the last two games combined. If White can get going, FSU can keep their offense rolling at a high level.
Georgia Tech’s Julian Royal (a 6-7 freshman forward) has just four double-figure scoring games this year but he’s averaging 9.7 points in 24.3 minutes over the last three games. Anything Georgia Tech can get from someone not named Glen Rice or Mfon Udofia is fantastic. Royal has shot 12-of-21 (3-of-4 from three) in the last three games, adding 13 rebounds, adding three steals. “As a freshman, he didn’t know if he was on foot or horseback when the season started,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. “Even during that first part of the year, he had some games where he played pretty well but then the next day in practice, it was, ‘Where’s Julian?’ … I really like him because I think he’s got a chance to be a heck of a player, but he’s a coachable kid.”
Random stat: Both Florida State and Georgia Tech have had great games against the North Carolina schools this year. Georgia Tech has yet to play Wake Forest and Florida State hasn’t faced N.C. State. But with three games each against the Big 4, the results are ridiculous: Georgia Tech averages 79.0 ppg (compared to 49.8 in four other league games) on 48.3% shooting (35.6% in all other league games). The Yellow Jackets have also made 50% of their three’s against North Carolina teams while making just 26.2% in all other ACC games. FSU’s results are not as insane but they still average 80.3 points against NC teams compared to 68.7 against all other league opponents and shoot 51% against NC teams (47.4% from three) compared to 41.4% (33.3% from three) against other ACC teams.
Prediction: Florida State 79, Georgia Tech 65
Last week: 12-0
Season: 92-31 (28-12 ACC)