Preview: FSU hosts Southern Miss in final game before ACC play begins
TV: ACC Network Extra
TIME: 2 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — No. 24 Florida State will say so long to its non-conference schedule on Thursday — then sit back and wait until a brutal Atlantic Coast Conference schedule awaits starting Dec. 30.
After the Seminoles’ rare midafternoon showdown Thursday against Southern Miss (7-4) at the Donald L. Tucker Center, Florida State (10-1) will have nine days off before embarking on one of the most difficult conference schedules of any program in the ACC — maybe even the nation.
It begins just before the new year at No. 4 Duke (12-1), then continues Jan. 3 at home against No. 5 North Carolina (10-2). The Seminoles then hit the road to face No. 6 Miami (9-0) on Jan. 7, followed by a game in Tallahassee against perennial power Louisville (9-2) three days later on Jan. 10.
Florida State then caps off its early ACC gauntlet at the Tucker Center against Syracuse (10-1).
Talk about brutal.
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton was jokingly asked after Monday’s 69-58 victory against Charleston Southern if he did anything to upset someone in the ACC’s front office who handles conference scheduling.
“As the young folks say, ‘Don’t get it twisted,'” Hamilton replied. “There’s not an easy game in the ACC. Doesn’t matter who you’re playing, when you’re playing, whether it’s home or on the road. You’re in for a fight.”
But before the Seminoles can throw haymakers in the ACC, they must focus on getting by the Golden Eagles, who come into the game having won four straight games.
Southern Miss, however, only has one road win, and that came against a winless Alabama A&M squad.
The Golden Eagles enter the Donald L. Tucker Center on Thursday to play a Florida State team that hasn’t lost there in two years.
And Thursday’s game is also the first of a tough series of games for the Golden Eagles.
“This stretch here is just brutal,” Southern Miss head coach Doc Sadler told the Hattiesburg American. “When you consider you’re going to get on a bus Wednesday, drive down (to Florida State) and play, then get in early in the morning (Friday). Get on the bus Friday and go play Saturday. Then you come back and we’re starting the league early. We’ll basically bus all the way back from Marshall. We’re going to be like the Globetrotters, we’re going to bus so much. I hate that you even asked because I’ve looked at it and just kinda pushed it to the side.”
Southern Miss plays Mississippi State (10-1) after the game against Florida State, then has road contests against Marshall (8-4) and Western Kentucky (7-5) to begin Conference USA play.
Southern Miss ranks No. 3 in the nation in fewest turnovers per game and assist-to-turnover ratio, as well as fifth for turnover margin. It has won the turnover battle in every game this season.
Southern Miss is coming off a 75-58 win over William Carey, an NAIA school.
Florida State is playing Southern Miss for the second season in a row after a 25-year gap in the all-time series. The Seminoles trounced the Golden Eagles last season in Tallahassee 98-49 and lead the series 17-8, including an 11-2 mark at home against the Golden Eagles.
Also at stake Thursday for the Seminoles is the third-longest active home winning streak in the nation at 26 games — a streak that dates back to the end of the 2015-16 season. Florida State’s streak is behind only Cincinnati (31) and SMU (29).
Terance Mann is Florida State’s leading scorer at 16.1 points per game, while Cortez Edwards leads the Golden Eagles at 17.4 points a contest.