Game Preview: vs Miami

Florida State is looking for their 20th win of the season while simultaneously going for the season sweep over the Miami Hurricanes. If FSU were to win, it’d be their fastest to 20 wins ever (23 games), beating the 2016/17 team who got there in 24 games.

Miami is struggling, to say the least, having lost 6 of their last 8 with wins over only Pitt and Virginia Tech. Their 4 point loss to Florida State in the last meeting is one of only two of those 6 losses that have come by single digits. With Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty both questionable for Saturday’s matchup, it could only get worse.

The game will be at noon on the ACC Network, live from the Donald L Tucker Center, and it is sold out.

Miami Breakdown 11-11 (3-9)

Like I did with Virginia, instead of breaking down their roster, I will link you back to the first game preview, as their roster and main contributors are pretty much the same. Click this sentence to take you back to the first preview.

Also similar to my second Virginia preview, I’m going to break down the film and explain what worked and didn’t work for each team, starting with the ‘Canes.

Miami did nothing special in this game scheme-wise to score like they did, they were just beating Florida State off the dribble again and again, especially in transition. The Seminoles were giving Lykes’ speed a ton of respect, almost too much respect. He was able to rise up and hit shots when given too much space, or drive right by players when they weren’t set. When helpside defense came, Lykes sometimes read it well and kicked to shooters.

Same goes for Kameron McGusty, who was able to take people off of the dribble way too easily. Some of these drives to the basket began just inside the half-court line, so there is no excuse for how easily these baskets were scored.

Dejan Vasiljevic was lethal from outside the arc, but a lot of his looks were fairly easy looks. There were times where defenders closed out too short, or they simply just left him open. That can’t happen if FSU wants to win comfortably.

There were a few times when Miami players hit some shots that couldn’t be guarded any better, but there’s not much that can be done about those.

Defensively is where this team really struggles. They were giving up open look after open look, stopping short on closeouts, and were letting Florida State get to the rim at will. That’s just who they are, they’re hoping to beat teams by the opposition having an off night shooting the ball. The ‘Canes have been hit by the injury bug again this season, so their depth is extremely limited, also having an impact on their defensive and rebounding efforts.

If Lykes and McGusty can’t go, look for Isaiah Wong and Harlond Beverly to increase their production, as they’ve been putting up good numbers in the last few games.

Florida State Breakdown 19-3 (9-2)

FSU was able to hit those slightly contested shots that good teams hit, and it was the reason they were able to win the first game. Taking 28 3s is not something Leonard Hamilton wants this team to do consistently, but if they make 10 of them, he’ll live with it.

Like with Miami, there were not sets or draw-ups that changed the game, they were just taking what the defense gave ’em. I’d like for anyone on FSU’s offense to bully Lykes a little more, but other than that, it’s hard to have complaints about what they were doing offensively. They just needed to be more focused and finish the shots in close.

As long as the ‘Noles clean up their mistakes on the defensive side of the ball, they shouldn’t have an issue in this second game. They were able to clamp up in the final 3 minutes to fight back and force overtime, but this team is vastly superior to Miami and shouldn’t have to fight back again in the second matchup.

This team has a lot of options that teams have to try and guard, given Devin Vassell is one of the best players in the country right now, but any one of Trent Forrest, MJ Walker, Patrick Williams, Anthony Polite, RaiQuan Gray, or Malik Osborne can get to double-figures in a hurry.

Injury Report

Florida State

Unless an injury popped up in practice this week, FSU is fully healthy for the first time of 2020. MJ Walker returned against UNC and played 25 minutes. I would assume he’d return to the starting lineup for this game, but we’ll see.


Chris Lykes is probable with a groin injury, and he has practiced this week.

Kameron McGusty is also probable with back spasms, and like Lykes, he has practiced this week.

Deng Gak is out for the year with a torn meniscus.

Projected Starting Lineups

Florida State

G: Trent Forrest

G: MJ Walker/Anthony Polite

G: Devin Vassell

F: RaiQuan Gray

F: Malik Osborne


G: Chris Lykes

G: Dejan Vasiljevic

G: Kameron McGusty

F: Sam Waardenburg

C: Rodney Miller

Keys to the Game

Contain the Dribble

Assuming Lykes plays, making sure he’s not getting easy looks at the rim is vital. He cannot control the pace of the game, because he will outrun everyone. Keep him and McGusty contained, and help off of the correct people. Rodney Miller is a below average big, so help off of him too, if necessary, but don’t give him easy looks.

Finish at the Rim

On the other end, concentrate and hit those close shots inside. Florida State would’ve won the first game by 10 in regulation had they just been able to finish at the rim. Those layups and dunks are going to be there against, just have to focus and finish; don’t try to draw the foul.

Stay Attached to Vasiljevic

Dejan Vasiljevic is they key to Miami staying in the game. If he’s getting open look after open look from behind the arc, the game will be close because he’s going to hit them. If he gets extra attention and isn’t able to get his shot off, that’s ideal. Let him be a driver and distributor, that’s BBQ Chicken and easy pickings for an opportunistic Florida State defense.


Florida State opened as 14-point favorites, with the over/under set at 144. The o/u is set pretty reasonably, I personally wouldn’t touch it since it really could go either way. The Miami +14 seems like an easy bet though; they gave FSU everything they could handle last time, and with Lykes and McGusty probably set to return, this will be a tad closer than Vegas thinks. If the line gets somewhere between 7-9.5, then I wouldn’t touch it.

The ‘Noles should win comfortably though, assuming they’re able to fix some things on the defensive side of the ball. Coming off arguably their best defensive performance of the year against UNC, I could absolutely see them running away with this game, assuming their offense does what it’s supposed to do. I’ll take FSU 73-64, with Patrick Williams having another great performance. I would prefer if FSU could beat the brakes off of these dudes so they can get some rest for Duke on Monday, but there’s no way to predict that.

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