Season Opener: No. 15 FSU looks for fifth straight win vs. rival Gators

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Junior Trent Forrest will be FSU's undisputed starting point guard this season.
Junior Trent Forrest will be FSU's undisputed starting point guard this season. (USA Today)

No. 15 Florida State (0-0, 0-0 ACC) vs. Florida (0-0, 0-0 SEC)

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 9 p.m., Tucker Center (11,675), Tallahassee, Fla. 

It has been a long time since the Florida State men's basketball team has opened its season with a game like this.

Since he was hired for the start of the 2002-'03 season, Leonard Hamilton has preferred to open up with opponents like Jacksonville, North Florida and Nicholls State -- programs with Division-I athletes, but not necessarily the types of overall talent that would present a major challenge.

Hamilton would then use those early season games to tinker with his lineups, work in some younger players and evaluate how they mesh with the veterans.

The Seminoles will not have that luxury this season, as they tip off the 2018-19 campaign with rival Florida, a team that returns three starters from a squad that reached the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament.

"The challenge of being ready to play against a high-rated opponent in a high-profile game is a little different than what we've been accustomed to," Hamilton said. "But that's what college basketball is, so we have to make that adjustment mentally. Both teams will be kind of in the same situation. We've just got to hope that we're a little further along than they are."

The roles of the two programs are somewhat reversed from when they met last season. Entering that game, UF was ranked No. 5 in the country and Florida State was a bit of an unknown commodity after losing stars Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes from the year before.

In what ended up being a sign of things to come, the Seminoles blistered the Gators on their own court, 83-66, and would go on to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. It marked FSU's fourth consecutive win in the series; the 'Noles will attempt to win their fifth straight against the Gators for the first time in school history tonight.

FSU is ranked No. 15 in the USA Today coaches' poll and No. 17 in the AP Top 25, while Florida is in the "others receiving votes" category in both polls.

Discuss the game with fans on Warchant's Seminole Hoops message board.

Last meeting: Florida State 83, Florida 66 (Dec. 4, 2017)

All-time series: Florida leads 43-26

TV: ESPN2 | Radio: Seminole Radio Network

Head Coaches: Leonard Hamilton (Florida State), Mike White (Florida)

FSU Projected Starting Lineup
Pos., Yr. Player Ht., Wt. PPG* RPG*

G, Jr.

Trent Forrest

6-4, 210



G, Sr.

Terance Mann

6-7, 215



G, So.

M.J. Walker

6-5, 213



G, Sr.

PJ Savoy

6-4, 210



C, Sr.

Christ Koumadje

7-4, 268



* - Stats from 2017-18 season
Florida Projected Starting Lineup
Pos., Yr. Player Ht., Wt. PPG RPG

F, Jr.

Keith Stone

6-8, 253



F, Sr.

Kevarrius Hayes

6-9, 227



G, Sr.

Jalen Hudson

6-6, 195



G, Sr.

KeVaughn Allen

6-2, 193



G, Fr.

Andrew Nembhard

6-5, 191



What to Watch For: ...

The Gators likely will be very motivated for this game for several reasons. Not only have they lost four straight to the Seminoles, but head coach Mike White was very critical of his team for letting FSU manhandle his squad physically. ... FSU is still trying to work through the adjustment of not having forward Phil Cofer for the next several weeks after he sustained a foot injury in the preseason. ... This will be fans' first chance to see junior Trent Forrest as the Seminoles' undisputed starting point guard; he shared those duties last season with C.J. Walker, who has since transferred to Ohio State. ... A key will be how UF freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard handles FSU's aggressive defense; the Seminoles likely will look to challenge the former five-star prospect in his college debut.

Opening Line: Florida State minus-4