Game preview: South Florida Bulls vs. Florida State Seminoles
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What to watch for: USF vs. FSU

USF takes on No. 19 Florida State for the first time in five years Saturday in the Metro by T-Mobile Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

It will be the Bulls' third game in six days. USF (6-5) is coming off a 76-74 overtime loss to Utah State on Wednesday in Houston, Texas.

The Seminoles defeated North Florida 98-81 Tuesday night. It was the ninth win in their last ten games.

Florida State Seminoles (L-R) Raiquan Gray, Devin Vassell, and Trent Forrest react during a timeout during a game against the Murray State Racers in the 2019 NCAA Tournament at XL Center.
Florida State Seminoles (L-R) Raiquan Gray, Devin Vassell, and Trent Forrest react during a timeout during a game against the Murray State Racers in the 2019 NCAA Tournament at XL Center. (Photo by: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) has your quick facts and what to watch for against Florida State:

Quick Facts

Matchup: Florida State (9-2) at USF (6-5)

Date: Saturday, Dec. 21

Time: 6:45 p.m. ET

Location: Sunrise, FL | BB&T Arena

Watch: FS2

Radio: USF Bulls Unlimited

History: USF and FSU have met 33 times with the Seminoles leading the series 21-12. The last time the two met FSU defeated USF 62-75 in the 2014 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

The Opponent: Florida State has six newcomers after losing half of its 2018-19 roster to graduation and/or the NBA. They have meshed well enough with the returnees for FSU to win nine of its last ten games plus be nationally ranked.

Can USF keep FSU out of the lane? That was the first question that popped into my mind after scouting two FSU games.

USF defenders must keep the ball in front of them and they have to be able to rebound it or the sun may set early for the Bulls in Sunrise.

The Seminoles have physical hard driving guards and physical wing players that try to get their shoulder down and get by you. Their guards are very good at using high ball screens to get downhill to score – starting with Trent Forrest.

Forrest is a problem. He is great at getting to the rim, drawing contact and going to the free throw line where he is making 79 percent of his attempts. He has improved offensively everywhere except beyond the arc. Forrest changes the game defensively on and off the ball. He is the closest thing to an alpha dog for the Seminoles and he has taken on a larger role this season.

Devin Vassell leads the Seminoles in scoring at 12.3 points per game and is their best perimeter shooter making 43.8 percent of his three-point attempts. Coming off ball screens he likes to dribble into a pull-up jumper. Vassell is a lethal scorer when his teammates get the ball to him out on the wings.

M.J. Walker is another Seminole who is terrific in transition but we like Walker’s passing ability when he uses ball screens. Watch for Walker to find spot up shooters when he comes off a screen with the ball.

Patrick Williams is a future NBA player. The youngster scores in transition, on put-backs and on cuts to the basket.

Balsa Koprivica is a young freshman center who got off to a slow start this season but things are starting to come together for him.

The FSU defense is a challenge to prepare for because so few teams play like them. They deny, switch on screens and front the post. FSU plays almost exclusively man-to-man and bring lots of ball pressure often picking up the ball in the back court. Face it, the Seminoles' defense is going to cause turnovers. When that happens USF must stay poised, move on to the next play and adjust to the mistake.


USF 57 FSU 68

This will be a hard fought and physical basketball game. USF has to defend and rebound at a high level for 40 minutes to win. Limit turnovers and get transition points.