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Florida vs. FSU, Game Thread: Gators face tall test in Tallahassee

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FSU is as tall and flawed as ever. Florida might win like it usually has.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

While Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete, and Patric Young helped Florida to its best record in school history, that gaggle of Gators also became the second straight senior class to never lose to Florida State on the hardwood.

That distinction's not nearly as good as a Final Four berth, nor is it as rare: The Gators have had five such senior classes since 2001. But it's instructive to note that Florida State has never had such a class, having never strung together more than three wins in a row in the series.

The Gators' current winning streak is five dubs long, and dates back to 2009, and all those wins have come against teams more or less like the one Florida plays tonight in Tallahassee (7 p.m., ESPN2 or WatchESPN), which have had scorers and tall, powerful frontcourts, but a lack of ball-handlers to frighten Billy Donovan's perimeter-dwelling teams.

This year, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the onetime teammate of Andrew Wiggins who was academically ineligible in the 2013-14 season, is the de facto scorer, but he's also the point guard, and while he's in the top 100 nationally in Assist Rate, he turns it over almost as often as he dishes dimes. And he's a horrific 11-for-50 from three-point range, one of four FSU players who has taken at least 10 threes and shot under 30 percent from behind the arc.

FSU's greatest weakness is its three-point shooting, as the 'Noles are a dismal 349th in three-point percentage; Devin Bookert is the Seminoles' sniper, as it were, and he's just 11-for-30 from three. And with tweener wing Aaron Thomas academically ineligible for the rest of this year, FSU doesn't even have its go-to offensive option anymore; Montay Brandon, the best remaining option, doesn't use nearly as many possessions as Thomas did, or as Rathan-Mayes does.

The 'Noles do have height, as they always do: Michael Ojo, Kiel Turpin, and Boris Bojanovsky all stand at least seven feet tall, get minutes in their frontcourt. But that has translated to merely decent defense, and Florida State is actually just one rung above Florida's last opponent, Wake Forest, in KenPom.

That could mean Florida, if it shoots better than it did in Sunrise against the Demon Deacons, will get a comfortable win tonight. Certainly, the addition of starter Alex Murphy, who was active and helpful against Wake in his first game as a Gator, should improve Florida's chances.

But this is likely to just be a win of some sort, and a continuation of Florida's dominance of the series. At least in basketball, that's just the state of the Sunshine State's most heated rivalry.