Virginia vs Florida State Preview
By Josh Burton
Coming off a huge 60-38 victory over Miami on Monday night, the University of Virginia Men’s Basketball team is now 18-5 (9-3 in the ACC) and should be fairly well rested as they head to Florida State to take on the Seminoles on Saturday (2/10). This game is scheduled for a 7:45 pm EST tip and will air on the CW Network.
About Florida State
The Florida State Seminoles are led by head coach Leonard Hamilton, in his 22nd season. Hamilton has a career record of 639-484 while this season Florida State is 13-9 (7-4 in ACC play). In their last game, the Seminoles picked up a narrow 63-62 victory at Boston College on Tuesday night.
The Seminoles have been a notoriously tough match-up for the Hoos, as they play a deep, athletic lineup that uses a ton of pressure to try to force turnovers. They boast a top 40 defense while being top 30 in forced turnovers. Coach Hamilton plays eleven different players in double digit minutes with six of them being upperclassmen. They generally start out as follows:
G - Darin Green Jr. (6’5” Covid-year Senior) Averages 12 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while hitting 39.1% from three-point range.
G - Jalen Warley (6’7” Junior) Averages 7.3 points per game.
F - Jamir Watkins (6’7” Junior, VCU Transfer) Averages 13.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
F - De’Ante Green (6’9” Sophomore) Averages 5.7 points per game.
F - Baba Miller (6’11” Sophomore) Averages 7.5 points and 5 rebounds per game.
6’3” Junior guard Primo Spears leads the Noles second unit, averaging 11.4 points per game and having scored in double-figures in all but two contests he’s played in.
Florida State is not a great shooting team, only Darin Green is hitting over 31% from three among their regular rotational players. They rely on their length and pressure defense to create some easy transition opportunities and mainly rely on everyone in the lineup being able to take their matchup off the dribble in half court sets.
Handling the Pressure
To come away with another road victory, the Cavaliers will have to be sound with the ball. While Florida State doesn’t try to trap or hand-check as much as other pressure teams, their length and in-your-face style of defense do cause a lot of turnovers.
The emergence of Taine Murray could be pivotal in this one, as he has an 11-1 assists-to-turnover ratio over the last five games. Taine developing a steady handle to go along with his very good shooting ability gives the Wahoos another option to help handle the ball without having to sacrifice size to do so.
First-year Blake Buchanan has had his ups and downs, not atypical of any first-year player, but he seems to be finding his fit within the system. He is coming off one of his better performances of the season against Miami, a game in which I thought he did an excellent job of moving his feet and playing defense out away from the basket. He is also beginning to find his touch, as he is starting to knock down some shots from the mid-range and in.
JPJ IS ERUPTING! This defense looks phenomenal, Blake Buchanan with two Huge blocks— John J. Kurcina (@JohnKurcina) February 6, 2024
While Baba Miller isn’t as polished as the Hoos last matchup, Norchad Omier, he is still capable of taking his opponent off the dribble and has additional length to help him score. In a matchup where Blake actually has some size weight-wise, I believe his defensive ability will be crucial.
Jake Groves shooting with zero hesitation now.— Preston Willett (@PrestonWillett) February 6, 2024
Has turned into one of the more confident shooters UVA has had in the last couple years.
Jake Groves has really come on as of late for the Hoos, mostly because of his shooting ability. Jake has scored in double digits in three consecutive contests while hitting 50% or better from outside in each. His scoring ability has not only provided a major lift for the Hoos second-unit, but has also provided much needed floor spacing. As long as Jake keeps scoring the way he has, look for him to continue to have the green light whenever he feels comfortable.
After Saturday night's game, the Wahoos will return to Charlottesville to host Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Be sure to check Locker Room Access for all the coverage!
(Featured Image Credit: Josie Drumheller/UVA Athletics)