Coach Leonard Hamilton and his No. 14 Florida State Seminoles (3-0) continue to garner national attention as they build on early success. They currently have won by an average of 21.3 points per game.
FSU got off to a slow start against Canisius Monday night. It was a one-point game at the seven-minute mark, but the Seminoles cleaned up their inconsistent play by adding a dose of energy. They pulled away for a 93-61 victory over the Golden Griffins.
The team’s next step is against tough competition during the AdvoCare Invitational played at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports starting on Thanksgiving and running through Sunday.
FSU will face UAB (3-0) in the first round, the first of three contests during a four-day span — by far the Seminoles’ most grueling stretch of the year.
“There’s no doubt that we will be challenged,” Hamilton said. “We need to feel comfortable with all of our players playing well in order to be successful against the quality of competition that we will be facing.
“This is a good opportunity for us.”
Tip-off for the FSU game is at 9:30 p.m. and the game will air on ESPNU. The tournament also will feature No. 19 LSU, Canisius, Charleston, Memphis, Oklahoma State and Villanova.
The game against Canisius on Monday in Tallahassee began both teams’ play in the invitational.
Florida State’s strong finish over the Golden Griffins coincided with a huge pick up on the recruiting trail.
Naheem McLeod, a 7-foot center in the 2019 class, signed with Florida State Nov. 20. According to 247Sports.com, the three-star chose the Seminoles over Temple and Rhode Island.
Christ Koumadje, FSU’s current starting center, graduates in May. McLeod could help FSU build on its success.
The Seminoles are approaching the AdvoCare Invitational with excitement, energy that could help them against tough teams in the tournament field.
Despite Villanova not being ranked entering the week, the reigning national champion is hoping to make a statement at the invitational.
A potential Florida State game against the Wildcats could give the Seminoles a glimpse of how far they are from becoming a championship contender.
Wins during the invitational can also help bolster FSU’s potential NCAA Tournament seed, aiding the Seminoles’ push to improve on last year’s run to the Elite Eight.
“That’ll be the key to the whole weekend,” Trent Forrest said when asked how important sustaining a high energy level is during the four-game invitational. “If we can keep our energy and minds in the right place, then I think everything will just fall into place for us.”
UAB, FSU’s first opponent, enters the tournament undefeated with major help from its sophomore leader. Guard Zack Bryant is the Blazers’ leading scorer, averaging 15 points per game. Bryant scored a combined 33 points against Mercer and West Alabama. He also leads the team in assists (3.7), steals (1.7) and blocks (1.0) per game.
If the Seminoles beat UAB, they will face the winner of the Charleston versus LSU game at 4:30 p.m. Friday — less than 24 hours following the completion of their first game.
The winner of that matchup will move on to the championship game on Sunday.