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December 20, 2013

Noles hope White's move outside brings big wins

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Game day page Okaro White's move to the perimeter is going swimmingly so far - and that leaves FSU with plenty of momentum heading into yet another game against a ranked team.

The 6-foot-9 senior has played exclusively at the small forward position the past two games, and the results have been encouraging. Against Jacksonville State and Charlotte, White combined for 31 points on 12-24 shooting, was 4-9 from three-point range and hauled in 15 rebounds with just one turnover and two fouls.

White's 11 rebounds against Charlotte kept the 49ers from gaining any advantage on the glass and let FSU out-rebound one of the better rebounding teams in the country. White, crashing in off the wing, provided an extra power-forward-sized body to hit the glass and the effects were noticeable: the Seminoles had as many offensive rebounds in the first half (13) as Charlotte had in total rebounds in the same period.

"It's pretty hard when you're trying to box out a guy from the wing," White said. "He's coming full speed and you're trying to meet him at about half speed so he can shake you going one way and then go another way. I just took advantage of that."

White's switch to the wing also freed up more playing time for Robert Gilchrist and Jarquez Smith at power forward. Each of the two players finished with 19 minutes, a major step towards solidifying the rotation. Gilchrist especially showed a bit of scoring touch, with a nifty hook shot and a few alley-oops. He also led FSU with four offensive rebounds.

"I think he's a lot more comfortable," White said of Gilchrist. "Coaches have been challenging him and he's trying to meet the challenge. As long as he's using his athleticism every game, getting his confidence up he'll be fine."

That rotation will face another strong test on Saturday as FSU plays No. 22 UMass in the Orange Bowl Classic in Fort Lauderdale.

UMass, No. 2 nationally in RPI, is undefeated on the season and boasts one of the most electric players in college basketball in Chazz Williams. More importantly for FSU, it's yet another chance for a marquee win. The convincing victory against VCU lost some of its luster when the Rams fell out of the rankings, and coming achingly close against Michigan and Florida only made FSU more hungry for a good win.

"We're real hungry to get a win like that," White said. "We've been on the grind and we understand their point guard is very quick. I think we'll have a good game plan going in."

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