No. 10 Florida State returns from break to host Southeast Missouri

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- After eight days off for final exams, 11th-ranked Florida State gets back to work on the court Monday night against Southeast Missouri State.

And they might just have the services -- for the first time all season -- of one of their best players.

Senior forward Phil Cofer, who suffered a foot injury during the preseason, has missed the first nine games but likely will suit up Monday against the Redhawks.

"We'll try to anticipate Phil being brought back into the fold but on a limited and a very cautious basis," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton told the Tallahassee Democrat this week. "We're going to allow his body to tell us where he is and we'll move forward from there with no real expectations one way or the other."

Cofer was the Seminoles' leading scorer a year ago at 12.8 points per game and also averaged 5.1 rebounds.

"We'll see what happens on Monday," Hamilton said. "Yes, we'll try to work him in on Monday, but what that means is going to be as a result of what happens in practice and we're not going to overdo that in practice."

The Seminoles (8-1) shouldn't have a problem getting their fourth straight victory -- with or without Cofer.

The Redhawks, who come into the game at 5-6 overall and having lost three of their last four games, will be 25 1/2-point underdogs against the Seminoles, who are off to a red-hot start. Their No. 11 ranking last week was the highest the program has been ranked so early in a season in school history.

Florida State, which last played Dec. 8 against UConn in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, N.J., has had plenty of rest since its latest 79-71 win over the Huskies. In that game, Seminoles leading scorer Terance Mann (12.1 points per game) became the 47th player in school history to reach 1,000 points as he led all scorers with 20 against UConn.

Southeast Missouri State will be warmed up. The Redhawks last played Saturday against The Citadel in an 86-74 loss despite a monster game from guard Ledarrius Brewer, who dropped a season-high 24 points.

Scoring has not been an issue for Southeast Missouri State early in the season. It's defense that concerns Redhawks coach Rick Ray coming into the game Monday.

"I thought we did some things in the second half (of our last game) that really let us down. For one, our defense. They shot 64 percent in the second half -- you're not going to win games when (your defense) allows that," Ray said.

"Offense is not our problem. We're so young and inexperienced. Our team is immature and we have to learn to fight through adversity as we go through the rest of our non-conference schedule."

Florida State's game against Southeast Missouri State is its first of four (three at home and one in Sunrise, Fla.) before it begins Atlantic Coast Conference play at No. 5 Virginia on Jan. 9 in Charlottesville, Va.

After Monday night's game, Florida State will next host North Florida on Wednesday.

The game between Florida State and Southeast Missouri State will be the second-ever meeting. The Seminoles defeated the Redhawks 100-75 on Dec. 22, 1994, at the Tucker Center in the only previous game between the teams.

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