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Notre Dame Basketball: Florida State Game Preview

The Fighting Irish finally got hot and now look to start a win streak

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finally got back on track with a great win against Boston College their last time on the floor. With the home crowd behind them, the Fighting Irish caught fire and scored 96 points - led by 28 from T.J. Gibbs - which was the first time they scored higher than 80 points since Jan. 3. The best part about the win was the fact that Notre Dame held off a few runs from, well... just Jerome Robinson. He dropped a ridiculous 46 points and single handedly keep the Eagles alive.

At times it felt like the Fighting Irish were on the verge of falling apart, but Matt “Mr. Second Half” Farrell wasn’t going to let that happen. Even though BC is also in the bottom half of the conference, it was exactly the kind of game we the fans needed to see to boost our morale, and I’m sure the players regained come confidence too.

The Fighting Irish will look to keep filling up the net when Florida State pays a visit to South Bend on Saturday.

Quick Facts:

  • This is just the eighth meeting between Notre Dame and Florida State, with the Seminoles leading the series 4-3.
  • Notre Dame is 2-0 against Florida State at Purcell Pavilion.
  • T.J. Gibbs is one of only two ACC players to rank in the top-10 in the conference in minutes played, three-point field goal percentage, points per game, three-point field goals made, free throw percentage, and assist/turnover ratio. The only other player is that Jerome Robinson guy.
  • John Mooney has set a new career high in scoring in three of his last five games.
  • Notre Dame still leads the country in least amount of personal fouls committed per game with a 13.0 average.

WHEN: Saturday, February 10, 4 p.m. ET

WHERE: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center

HOW TO WATCH: ESPN2 national broadcast with Mike Couzens and Cory Alexander. Broadcast also available on the WatchESPN app.

Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland. Available locally on the WSBT-AM 960/FM 96.1, worldwide on WatchND.tv and via any network affiliate.

Florida State Seminoles (17-7, 6-6 ACC)

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

The Seminoles are coming off a hard-fought loss against Virginia in which only one player scored in double figures, and all but one player on the roster had a field goal. It sounds absurd, but the Seminoles still only lost by four points.

On the season, Florida State’s only impressive non conference win came against Florida, which has proven to be an overrated team anyways. Within the ACC, the Seminoles have split both of their two-game series’ against Miami and Louisville, took down North Carolina by a point, but lost to Boston College and Wake Forest.

As evidence from that Virginia game, Florida State has a fairly deep team with balanced scoring. Junior guard Terance Mann leads the way in scoring and rebounding, with 14.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Yes, a guard leads the team in rebounding, even with 7-foot-4 junior Christ Koumadje on the roster who is second with 5.4 rebounds per game, as well as 7-foot freshman Ike Obiagu wth 2.7 per game. The team’s assist leader is sophomore guard Trent Forrest with 3.5 per game, but he only scores 6.0 points per game this season.

The other scorers for Florida State include senior guard Braian Angola with 13.8 points per game, and senior forward Phil Cofer with 13.3 per game. Angola is the team’s designated shooter, with at least 40 more three-point attempts than anyone else on the roster, and he also has the highest career free-throw percentage in Florida State history at 82.9 percent. Cofer’s leadership has been valuable while playing the most total minutes and hauling in the second-most total rebounds on the year.

Outside of the two 7-footers, Florida State has great size all around that translates into a decent 47.4 percent field goal percentage. At 6-foot-1, sophomore point guard C.J. Walker is the only guard on the team who is shorter than 6-foot-5. The Seminoles are long and athletic, and as a team they average 39.4 rebounds per game. With that, their interior defense is fierce with 114 blocks on the season and tied for 35th in the nation with 4.8 per game.

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Seminole to Watch:

Braian Angola, G, Senior

Angola is one of the senior leaders and has been the catalyst behind several of Florida State’s bigger wins this year. The main reason why the 6-foot-6, 195 pound guard is the most important player for the Fighting Irish to stop is the shooting skills mentioned before. We all saw what a great shooter can do to keep a team alive in that Boston College game. That’s not to say Angola is going to drop 46 points, but Notre Dame definitely needs to play better perimeter defense on him. This game feels like it could be more of a slugfest in the paint, but Notre Dame is going to shoot as always, and if they get hot it’s going to be Angola who shoots threes in response.

Irish X-Factor:

John Mooney, F, Sophomore

Probably the best thing to happen as a result of Bonzie Colson’s injury has been more minutes for Mooney. The 6-foot-9, 248 pound forward has emerged as a scrappy rebounder and a lights-out shooter. He’s shaping up to be one of the scoring leaders for next year’s team alongside fellow sophomore Gibbs. He may be expected to throw his body around the paint a little more against a big Florida State team, but he’ll still sneak out into the corner for a few deep-balls and hold the follow through. I like Notre Dame’s chances if Mooney can get to 15 points, and a double-double would be even better.

Prediction:

Notre Dame 84 - Florida State 78

I think this is going to be a very entertaining game and the Fighting Irish are more than capable of grinding out their second win in a row. Mike Brey told the team after the BC win that it jump started their offense, and that’s what I want to believe in too. Farrell playing healthy again makes a huge difference and opens up so many more opportunities for the rest of the team to score. It’s going to be scrappy but I’m picking the Fighting Irish to shoot the ball well again and start a streak that turns them into a feared team again once the ACC tournament rolls around.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports