florida state seminoles

Preview: FSU Looks to Rebound Against Rams in Atlanta

Florida State will look to bounce back from a disheartening 78-75 overtime loss at Iowa on Wednesday as the Seminoles get set to take on Virginia Commonwealth at Philips Arena in Atlanta on Sunday.

After falling to last year’s national championship participants, Duke and Wisconsin, by a combined nine points, VCU comes in as winners of three straight. The Rams are off to a 5-2 start and are led by senior guard Melvin Johnson, who is averaging nearly 18 points-per-game.

Key Players for Florida State

  • Xavier Rathan-Mayes (So.-G): 10.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.5 APG
  • Dwayne Bacon (Fr.-G/F): 19.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 53% FG
  • Malik Beasley (Fr.-G): 20.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 59% FG

Key Players for Virginia Commonwealth

  • Melvin Johnson (Sr.-G): 17.6 PPG, 1.6 SPG, 46% 3PT
  • Korey Billbury (Sr.-G): 11.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG
  • JeQuan Lewis (Jr.-G): 9.3 PPG, 74.4 APG, 2.1 SPG

Fellow senior guard Korey Billbury is the only other Ram to average in double-figures scoring with 11 points-per-game. Junior JeQuan Lewis is scoring better than nine per game and is averaging a team-high 4.4 assists. The Rams however, are winning with defense.

Lewis, who averages 2.1 steals, is one of seven VCU players to average at least one steal per game. As a team, the Rams are yielding just 63.4 points-per-game, which ranks 28th nationally.

While the upperclassmen have propelled Virginia Commonwealth, it’s been the freshmen who have carried the Seminoles so far. Guards Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon lead the team with 20 and 19 points per contest, respectively. Beasley is shooting 59 percent for the year while Bacon tops the 4-2 Seminoles with 6 rebounds-per-game.

Last season’s leading scorer Xavier Rathan-Mayes has served as more of a facilitator, averaging 6.5 assists for the Seminoles. The redshirt sophomore guard is the only other FSU player to average in double-figures with 10.8 points-per-game. Rathan-Mayes leads FSU in minutes played and is coming off a season-high 15 points in Wednesday’s loss at Iowa.

Despite having only three players with a scoring average in double-figures, the Seminoles rank 10th nationally in scoring, averaging nearly 89 points-per-game. FSU’s 75 points on Wednesday was a season-low.

The Seminoles defeated the Rams in the Puerto Rico Tip-off 85-67 when the teams met two years ago. Ian Miller came off the bench to lead FSU with 22 points. During VCU’s run to the 2011 Final Four, the Rams defeated FSU in overtime 72-71 in the round of 16. Sunday’s contest will start just after 2:00 P.M. eastern time and will be televised on ESPNU.

About Mike Ferguson

Mike Ferguson is a Bloguin contributor, the editor of Noled Out and a lifetime Florida State sports enthusiast. Mike vividly remembers watching Warrick Dunn run down the sideline in Gainesville in 1993, the "Choke at Doak" in 1994 and Monte Cummings' driving layup to beat #1 Duke in 2002. Mike has worked as a sports reporter in both print and online. For isportsweb in 2013, Mike gave press coverage of Florida State football's run to the 2013 national championship. Mike has been featured on SI.com, FoxSports.com and Yahoo Sports while interviewing major sports stars such as 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. Mike graduated from Florida State University in 2009 with a major in Religion and a minor in Communications. Mike currently resides in Haines City, Florida with his wife Jennifer and daughters Trinity and Greenly. Mike is a full-time reporter at Polk County's newspaper, The Ledger, in Lakeland, Florida. Mike can be followed on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.