Florida State and Florida will renew their in-state rivalry when the Seminoles travel to face the host Gators in Gainesville on Sunday afternoon.
In recent years, it’s been a one-sided feud.
The Seminoles (1-0) have defeated the Gators (1-0) seven consecutive times, including last season’s 83-71 victory in Tallahassee.
FSU, ranked No. 20 in the preseason Associated Press poll, lost four players to the NBA coming into this season. But during a season-opening 105-70 victory over Penn, the Seminoles showed they still have the depth to make another NCAA Tournament run.
Malik Osborne, despite dealing with a recent bout with the flu, scored 17 of his 18 points in the first half and finished with 13 rebounds to key the victory.
“I actually had two days of practice and I just made sure to push everything, my conditioning so I wouldn’t really miss a beat when I came back,” Osborne told reporters after the game.
Anthony Polite also had 17 points and six rebounds, RayQuan Evans had 14 points, and Caleb Mills, a transfer from Houston, scored 14 points and had five rebounds in his Seminoles debut.
FSU’s signature defense was already evident as it forced 26 turnovers and turned those into 37 points.
“I was beyond proud, beyond impressed, honestly,” Osborne said. “Not just the new transfers coming in, but just the young guys as well, being able to get after it.”
The Gators secured a 74-61 victory at home against Elon on Tuesday night to open their season.
Returning senior Colin Castleton led Florida with 17 of his 18 points in the first half as he and returning starters Tyree Appleby and Anthony Duruji each scored in double figures with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Myreon Jones, one of the Gators’ new additions through the transfer portal, also scored 18 points.
“Every game you’ve got to play defense hard. You’ve got to have a little bit more urgency,” Castleton said. “In the first half we had really good urgency. Came out playing hard on every level, and then we just let up, so it was really disappointing. We just have to come back and practice hard and get ready for Sunday, because that’s going to be a very big test for us.”
Appleby was inserted into the starting lineup at the last minute by Gators coach Mike White after he revealed that Phlandrous Fleming Jr. was dealing with a groin injury. Fleming Jr. played in the second half and scored four points in 17 minutes.
“One of our best players throughout the course of this summer and fall,” White said of Fleming Jr. “He’s been banged up a little bit. We didn’t even know he was gonna play until an hour before the game, so it was nice to see him get going and play a game and not hamper what he had going on.”
Florida returns six seniors or graduates led by Castleton. The Gators don’t seem likely to have forward Keyontae Johnson back, however.
Johnson missed nearly all of last season after he collapsed in last year’s game against Florida State and was hospitalized. He is currently in the process of deciding whether to push for medical clearance and turn pro or cash in on a $5 million insurance policy, according to a report from the AP.
–Field Level Media