Preview: Seminoles Look to Stay Hot vs. Mississippi State

Florida State will look to run its winning streak to three on Wednesday night as the Seminoles play host to Mississippi State.

FSU has won back-to-back games and will come into Wednesday’s contest at the Donald L. Tucker Center with a record of 6-2. The Bulldogs are an even 4-4 after falling at UMKC on Saturday.

Key Players for Mississippi State

  • Gavin Ware (Sr.-G): 19.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 71% FG
  • Craig Sword (Jr.-G): 12.4 PPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 BPG
  • I.J. Ready (Jr.-G): 12.0 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.4 SPG

Key Players for Florida State

  • Xavier Rathan-Mayes (So.-G): 11.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6.8 APG
  • Dwayne Bacon (Fr.-G/F): 15.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 50% FG
  • Malik Beasley (Fr.-G): 18.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 54% FG

Senior forward Gavin Ware is the guy to watch for Mississippi State after an outstanding start to the 2015-16 season. Ware is averaging 19 points and nearly eight rebounds per contest. Ware is shooting an ungodly 71 percent from the field and has scored at least 20 points in four of the Bulldogs’ eight games. Ware has scored at least 12 in every game and has three double-doubles on the year.

Ware however, has not had to do it all by himself. Guards Craig Sword, I.J. Ready and Malik Newman are all averaging at least 12 points-per-game. Sword, a senior, was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs last season while Ready, a junior, leads the squad with an average of 4.6 assists-per-game. As a team, Mississippi State is averaging better than 80 points per contest.

The Seminoles have a lot of size with three 7-footers on the roster, but the offensive load this season has been carried by the backcourt. Freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley have combined to average better than 34 points-per-game on the young season. Beasley is FSU’s leading scorer, averaging better than 18 points-per-game while Bacon is the team’s top rebounder, grabbing an average of five per contest.

Averaging nearly 12 points and seven assists, redshirt sophomore guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes serves as the facilitator for the FSU offense. Junior Benji Bell is coming off a career-high 18 points in Sunday’s victory over Southeastern Louisiana. Like the Bulldogs, Florida State has been prolific offensively this season, averaging better than 85 points-per-game.

Florida State is just 4-5 all-time against Mississippi State and dropped a 62-55 contest in Starkville last season. Ready led the Bulldogs with 14 points while Devon Bookert was the high-scorer for FSU with 16. The last FSU victory in the series came in Honolulu in December 1998. Wednesday’s contest will tip off after 9 p.m. eastern time and will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

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, 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.