In recent years, Florida State has wrangled Florida in multiple sports.
Men’s basketball is no exception. Over the last three seasons, the Seminoles are 3-0 against the Gators, winning all three contests by a combined nine points.
Six games into the season, Florida's offense is already garnering national attention.
This year, No. 6 Florida enters tonight’s 9 p.m. matchup against the Seminoles in the O’Connell Center as a nine-point favorite.
But for Florida coach Mike White, the rivalry has yet to manifest itself as anything more than just another game.
And he hopes to keep it that way.
“I know it’s a big game in our fans’ minds,” White said. “I don’t know if you make a game really emotional, I don’t know how that puts you in the best place mentally to play really well.”
As the Gators (5-1) prepare to take on the Seminoles (6-0) tonight, White knows how dangerous this FSU team is.
Led by coach Leonard Hamilton, who has been at the helm of the program since 2002, the Seminoles boast a high-octane offense with multiple scoring options.
Four of FSU’s probable starters average over 10 points per game, same as Florida’s starting lineup.
“They can really spread the floor this year with multiple three-point shooters,” White said. “And they’ve got an emerging young point guard in [CJ] Walker.”
Walker, a sophomore from Indianapolis, has made a big leap this year, averaging 11 points and three assists per game, more than double his average from last season in both categories.
Walker showcased his sophomore jump with a 24-point performance against then-undefeated Rutgers to keep the Seminoles’ record perfect on the year.
“It’s the next game and it’s an ACC opponent,” White said. “It’s a good team. It’s a team coming off an NCAA Tournament run.”
Despite this being his first season playing for Florida, redshirt junior Jalen Hudson has experience facing the Seminoles.
The guard averaged 7.8 points in four previous matchups with FSU while he played at Virginia Tech.
Now, as Florida’s leading scorer averaging close to 22 points per game, Hudson hopes to use that experience as an advantage tonight.
“I’m a little bit familiar with how they play and their coach and their coaching style a little bit,” Hudson said.
Whether viewed as an endless feud between the Gators and Seminoles, or just another game in a grueling five-month schedule, Florida wants to come out strong following its first loss of the year against Duke on Nov. 26.
“We’ve got to protect our house,” Hudson said. “I’m excited just to get to it.”
You can follow Skyler Lebron on Twitter @SkylerLebron, and contact him at email@example.com.