Florida's Allen, FSU's Bacon look to lead again in rivalry
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) KeVaughn Allen and Dwayne Bacon both made their mark in last year's Florida-Florida State game. That has continued this season as the sophomore guards face each other again on Sunday in the latest edition of the Sunshine State Showdown.
Allen, who scored a career-high 32 points in last year's game, leads the 21st-ranked Gators (7-2) in scoring, averaging 13.2 points per game. Bacon, who hit the game-winning shot last year to give the Seminoles a 73-71 win, is averaging 16.6 points.
Allen said Friday that his performance last year against the Seminoles gave him a boost in confidence and that the momentum continues.
''The coaches every day were telling me to be more aggressive, take the right shots and get teammates involved,'' Allen said. ''That game allowed me to shoot with more confidence and just playing hard on defense every night.''
Allen is the only Florida player to have multiple 20-point games this season (two). He tied a season high with 21 points in last Tuesday's loss to No. 5 Duke.
Even though he hit a mid-range jumper to beat the Gators, Bacon struggled with his shot the rest of the season. He worked on his shot during the offseason and it has paid off so far. Bacon is shooting 50.4 percent from the field, compared to 44.7 percent last season.
He has led the Seminoles (8-1) in scoring in six games this season and comes in with a 19-game double-figure scoring streak.
''It was a big shot to get the win but this year I have a much higher role. I am familiar with the system and very comfortable,'' Bacon said.
The Seminoles come in with a five-game winning streak but this will be their biggest non-conference challenge to date. During this stretch they have held opponents to 30.3 percent shooting from the field and have won by an average margin of 28.4 points.
Coach Leonard Hamilton is eager to see how his team responds against stiffer competition. In a Nov. 24 game against Temple, the Seminoles held an 18-point lead in the second half but ended up losing by three.
For Hamilton, Sunday's game will be a better indicator of how his team has progressed with the first Atlantic Coast Conference game coming in two weeks.
''Are we ready for an ACC-type game? Well it's here,'' he said. ''They've played a higher level of competition that has given them an opportunity to be a little more battle tested than we are.''
The Gators have had a challenging non-conference schedule with their first 11 on the road due to renovations to the O'Connell Center. Besides Duke, they have also faced No. 8 Gonzaga, Seton Hall and Miami. Allen said the biggest lesson from the Duke game is that Florida needs to do a better job limiting turnovers. It committed 10 in the first half as it fell behind by 10 at halftime.
''We've got to continue to be more seasoned, to be more poised, whether we're going on the run or they're going on the run, we've got to be more consistent,'' Florida coach Mike White said. ''Hopefully we're making less of those mistakes and getting closer to maxing out as a team as the season continues.''
Florida State is trying to win three straight games in the series for the first time in eight years. The last three meetings have been decided by a total of five points.
Associated Press writer Mark Long in Gainesville, Florida, contributed to this report.
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