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GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Hosts ACC Foe Miami On Saturday
AT A GLANCE
FGCU will look to bounce back from a rough loss at Arkansas in its last outing when it hosts ACC foe Miami at Alico Arena on Saturday night. It's been a busy opening two weeks for both teams, as they've combined to play 11 games, including five away from their home arenas. The Eagles will be looking for their second straight home win to open the season after defeating Southeast Missouri State, 89-78, on Nov. 16, while Miami is still searching for its first road win after falling at Memphis and Rutgers.
BCS DANGER ZONE
Saturday night's game marks the second straight year FGCU has hosted a school from a BCS Conference. Last year, the Eagles stunned BIG EAST member DePaul, 64-61, on Dec. 22 at Alico Arena for the program's first win over a school from one of the power six conferences (ACC, BIG EAST, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-10, SEC).
Miami won the only meeting between the two teams last year on Nov. 25 at the Bank United Center by a 77-59 score. Then-freshman ANTHONY BANKS led the Eagles with 15 points, while the Hurricanes were led by Malcolm Grant who had 14 points, five rebound and four assists. The win was part of Miami's 15-1 start.
SCOUTING THE HURRICANES
With nine returners back from last year's 20-win team, head coach Frank Haith and his Miami club is off to a 3-2 start. The Hurricanes are a perfect 3-0 at home, but 0-2 on the road, including a four-point heartbreaker at No. 19 Memphis. The experienced backcourt of junior Malcolm Grant and sophomore Durand Scott rank first and third on the team in scoring at 12.4 points and 12.0 points, respectively. Grant leads the team with 11 three-pointers, while Scott has got to the free throw line 23 times. Miami's strong backcourt play is backed up by its depth in the low post, beginning with 6-foot-10, 303-lb. sophomore Reggie Johnson. After averaging just over six points and four rebounds as a freshman, Johnson is having a breakout sophomore campaign and is one of three players in the ACC averaging a double-double at 12.2 points and 10.6 boards. The Hurricanes' trio of starting forwards all go 6-foot-7 or better, helping Miami boast a +10.8 rebounding margin through five games.
AGAINST BCS OPPONENTS
FGCU is 1-11 all-time against BCS foes after picking up a win over BIG EAST opponent DePaul last season at Alico Arena. DePaul was the first BCS men's basketball program to come to Fort Myers, while all other 11 contests have been played on the road. Miami is the third of four BCS foes FGCU will square off against this season. The Eagles will travel to Ohio State on Dec. 15.
HEAD COACHING MATCHUP
FGCU HEAD COACH Dave Balza
@ FGCU: 145-102 (9th Season)
Overall: 180-151 (12th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 18-38 (4th Season)
Vs. Miami: 0-1
MIAMI HEAD COACH Frank Haith
@ Miami: 111-88 (7th Season)
ACC: 37-59 (7th Season)
Vs. FGCU: 1-0
FGCU welcomes back eight players from last year's club including its top two leading scorers in redshirt sophomore forward ANTHONY BANKS (12.9 ppg) and senior REED BAKER (11.4 ppg). A combination of Banks or Baker led the Eagles in scoring 23 of 29 contests in 2009-10, while both reached double figures in the same game 12 times. Both have finished in double figures in three of the first four games and rank as the third-best scoring tandem in the A-Sun.
Senior REED BAKER and junior TIM SNYDER poured in 23 and 21 points, respectively, at Grambling to mark the fourth time a pair of players have gone for at least 20 points in the same game since FGCU joined Division I. Baker was a part of the feat in each of the last two years, while the 20-point outing was his second of the season. The Naples, Fla. product has 11 career 20-point games and done so it back-to-back games three times, including a four-game streak in 2008-09.
LICENSE TO STEAL
Along with his scoring prowess, senior REED BAKER has upped his game on the defensive end with 11 steals over the first four games. Baker registered three steals at Indiana and against SEMO before nabbing a season-best of four at Arkansas to rank second in the A-Sun. For his career, Baker has 16 multi-steal games, highlighted by seven against ETSU on Jan. 12, 2009 - the second most in single-game history.
OH WHAT A NIGHT
FGCU opened its home schedule in style on November 16, scoring a program Division I record 89 points during a win over Southeast Missouri. Senior REED BAKER led the scoring frenzy with a career-high 28 points to fuel a 53-point second half. Junior MARLON RIVERA just missed recording a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Led by senior REED BAKER'S team-leading 19.3 points per game that rank second in the Atlantic Sun, FGCU sports three players in double figures. Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has battled through foul trouble in two games to average 12.5 while frontcourt mate TIM SNYDER averages 10.5 points, including 14.5 over his last two outings thanks to 21-point outing at Grambling. Dating back to last season, either Baker or Banks has led the team in scoring nine consecutive games.
EARNING THEIR STRIPES
Over the first four games, FGCU has made 135 trips (33.8 per game) to the charity stripe, 56 more attempts than its opponents. The Eagles have knocked down just 84-of-135 free throws, but it has led to a +9.5 scoring margin per game. After earning just 88 trips to the free throw line in 2009-10, senior REED BAKER is a healthy 27-of-33 this season, ranking second in the A-Sun in attempts behind Kennesaw's Markeith Cummings (38) who has played six games.
SEEING DOUBLE, ALMOST TRIPLE
Playing in just his second game at the Division I level, junior MARLON RIVERA fell just one assist shy of become the first player in FGCU history to register a triple-double against Southeast Missouri. Rivera's dominating performance on both ends of the court featured 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists over 33 minutes.
Not equipped with a lot of size in the paint, FGCU makes up for it by staying active on the offensive glass. Led by preseason All-Conference choice ANTHONY BANKS, the Eagles ranked third in the Atlantic Sun in 2009-10 in offensive rebounds per game (13.6). The Eagles are back at it again this season, grabbing 56 offensive caroms over the first four games to tie for second (14.0) in the league lead. FGCU has grabbed double figure offensive boards in 31 of its last 34 games, including all four this season, dating back to the final contest of the 2008-09 season. Banks and junior TIM SNYDER both rank in the top six in offensive rebounds with a combined 21.
After finishing second in the A-Sun in field goal percentage as a freshman in 2009-10, ANTHONY BANKS is out to take over the crown in his second campaign. Through four games, Banks sports a 54 percent (19-35) clip from the field, good for seventh in the conference. A career 56 percent (172-305) shooter, Banks has made 50 percent or better from the field in 24 of 33 career games.
A key component is FGCU's win over Grambling was its ability to draw charges. For the game, the Eagles took six charges, led by three from both redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS and junior TIM SNYDER.
ON THE OFFENSIVE
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS leads the charge on the offensive glass after grabbing 100 offensive caroms in 2009-10. In just 33 career games, Banks has snared five or more offensive boards in a game 11 times, including five at Indiana. The Lantana, Fla. product has grabbed an offensive rebound in 30 of 33 games and had his streak of 29 straight contests snapped against Southeast Missouri State. Banks totaled nine offensive boards against Jacksonville (Jan. 9, 2010), starting a three-game stretch in which he grabbed 21.
Senior REED BAKER has not only scored in double figures in all four games this season, he's reached the double-digit plateau in four halves. Baker enters Saturday's showdown against Miami with double figure points in four of the last six halves after scoring a career-high 28 points against SEMO and 23 more at Grambling. Baker is averaging a healthy 11.8 points over the final 20 minutes.