TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – It’s a Top 20 matchup at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Thursday night as No. 8 Florida State Women’s Basketball hosts No. 19 Michigan State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on the ACC Network.
“We’ve been here before, but not with this group,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “I think it’s important that we educate them. We make sure they understand that there’s no reason to relax. It’s not like we’ve arrived. We’ve got so much more to do, and we have to point out those things and work on those things specifically in practice and in games.”
The Seminoles (7-0) own a strong 10-2 record in the annual conference challenge, which matches Duke (10-2) for the best record among all current ACC and Big Ten teams in the challenge. Florida State has won seven consecutive Big Ten/ACC Challenge games, the longest active win streak of any current ACC or Big Ten school in the challenge.
Included in that win streak is a 60-58 nail-biter against 25th-ranked Michigan State on Dec. 4, 2013 – a game in which current WNBA standout Natasha Howard went for 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Overall, FSU has won eight consecutive games vs. Big Ten Schools. Its last loss was on Dec. 8, 2012, at Nebraska.
FSU is riding high following a resounding 80-58 victory over then-No. 6 Texas A&M at the Maggie Dixon Classic in Fort Worth, Texas. The win vaulted the Seminoles to eighth in the AP Poll, FSU’s highest rank since also being ranked eighth in the poll on Jan. 22, 2018. FSU has spent 34 weeks in the AP Top 10 since 2014.
— FSU Women’s Hoops (@fsuwbb) December 4, 2019
Florida State’s Big Three seniors (Nicki Ekhomu, Kiah Gillespie, Nausia Woolfolk) accounted for 61 of FSU’s 80 points scored last game vs. Texas A&M (76.3 percent of scoring).
The Seminoles shot 53.3 percent (32-of-60) against No. 6 Texas A&M last game. It was their best shooting performance vs. a Top 10 opponent since shooting 57.4 percent (31-of-54) in an 80-74 home win over No. 2 Duke on Feb. 4, 2004.
Redshirt senior forward Kiah Gillespie averaged 19.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in big wins last week over SEC opponents Florida (W, 66-55) and No. 6 Texas A&M. Her 18 boards at UF matched her career high, and her 22 points against the Aggies marked her season high.
FSU is looking for consecutive Top 25 wins in pre-conference games (games prior to ACC play) for the first time since 1992 (defeated No. 16 Miami on 12/18 and defeated No. 20 Tennessee Tech on 12/21). Overall, FSU has won back-to-back games vs. Top 25 opponents seven different times.
The Spartans (6-1) own a 72-69 road win at Notre Dame, and are coming off a 65-60 victory over Kansas State. Their lone blemish is a close 58-56 loss to LSU, which FSU defeated. Sophomore guard Nia Clouden is leading the Spartans with 15.4 points per game. She also has a team-leading 19 steals, as MSU ranks eighth nationally with 102 steals.
Michigan State is also skilled on the offensive glass, ranking seventh in the country with 18.1 offensive boards per game. Collectively, the Spartans rebound very well as 10 different players are averaging at least three rebounds per game.
Florida State will begin its ACC opener this Sunday at Clemson at Noon. The game will air on the league’s regional sports networks, which includes FOX Sports Florida.