For the third straight season, Florida State opens the season with a 4-0 start. Tonight marked their first game in the Advocare Invitational against the UAB Blazers. #14 FSU is no stranger to this tournament, having won it in 2009. With another dominating performance, the ‘Noles are making a case for being ranked in the Top 10. The win against the Blazers means that the Seminoles will face the LSU Tigers.

Hitting the Century Mark

Tonight was an eventful night for Florida State’s 7’4 center Christ Koumadje. Koumadje blocked the 100th shot of his career tonight, and kept the UAB offense from venturing too far into the paint. As we noted in our preview yesterday, FSU’s size was a problem for the Blazers.

Koumadje stuffed the box score with 3 blocks, 9 rebounds, and 12 points on the night. He also did a great job altering shots and UAB’s offense without getting into foul trouble, as he was able to be on the floor for 22 minutes. For Florida State to make another title run, the big fella has to stay healthy. Coach Hamilton has been getting amazing results from his rim protector, and his basketball IQ has improved tremendously.

Consistency from the Bench

We all know that Coach Hamilton likes to go deep into his roster and will rotate up to 11 players (12 if Cofer were healthy). A great sign of things to come has been the 6th-man performances from Mfiondu Kabengele. He scored 10 in 18 minutes for the ‘Noles and gave Koumadje the rest he needed.

Freshman Devin Vassell is starting to get quality minutes as well. He was perfect from the 3 point line and can give Florida State the perimeter shooting they desperately need. Also, Vassell had a nasty putback dunk in this game that was disallowed due to an over the back call. The fact that the dunk was disallowed is irrelevant – Vassell looked to float in the air for an otherworldly amount of time. I can’t wait to see more from the freshman.

What’s Next?

LSU will be a real test for the ‘Noles. The Tigers are 5-0, with good wins over UNC Greensboro and Memphis. LSU won their first round matchup with the College of Charleston 67-55 to advance to this point. Like many other teams FSU has on their schedule, LSU isn’t slow, but isn’t a fast-paced team, either, taking a more middle-ground approach. As in the game against UAB, look for FSU to try to make the Bayou Bengals uncomfortable with pace.

Freshman forward Naz Reid leads the way for the Tigers, with 13.4 ppg. He also leads the team in rebounds, with 4.6 per contest. LSU has 5 players who average double-digits, so the ‘Noles will need to have a good defensive effort to combat the Tigers’ balanced attack. Junior guard Skylar Mays adds 12.6 ppg, and is LSU’s best from beyond the arc, going 7/20 (35%) so far this season. At point is sophomore Tremont Williams, with 12 ppg and 7.2 assists per game. He is the linchpin of this offense with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.12.

Other Factors

While you’ll still hear the announcers drool over FSU’s length, the advantage won’t be as pronounced as in the UAB game. LSU has a couple of players over 6’10, including their leading scorer and rebounder, Naz Reid. LSU turns the ball over 12 times per contest, but forces 15.2 turnovers per game. I know we continue to harp on how many times the ‘Noles give away the basketball, but if FSU is careless with the rock today, the effect may be more pronounced than in any other game so far this season.

Fatigue may also be a factor for LSU. 3 of their starters logged 30+ minutes yesterday, with another logging 28. They played 9 men, all of those played double-digit minutes. Only one of FSU’s starters (Forrest) played for 30 minutes, and only one other player logged more than 25 (Mann, 26). The quality depth of the ‘Noles should be a factor, especially in the second half, if LSU starts to show some dead legs.

TV: 4:30, ESPN2/U

Line: FSU -5.5