GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Returns Home To Host N.C. Central
Monday, December 20, 2010
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GAME DAY CENTRAL
FGCU (2-7) vs. N.C. Central (4-5)
DATE:
Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 5:15 p.m. ET
LIVE AUDIO: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
TALENT: Tom James (Play-by-Play)
LIVE VIDEO: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
LIVE STATS: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
SERIES: FGCU leads, 2-0
LAST MEETING: FGCU 76, NCCU 67 Dec. 16, 2009
AGAINST THE MEAC: 4-1
LAST GAME: Toledo 75, FGCU 63 - Dec. 18

AT A GLANCE
Playing its first home game in 24 days, FGCU returns to the friendly confines of Alico Arena to host N.C. Central on Tuesday evening. The home game is just the third of the season for the Eagles, who will look to snap a six-game losing streak with a win. The Blue and Green are a solid 6-2 over their last eight non-conference home games, dating back to the 2008-09 season. Last year, the Eagles gave their home fans a big holiday victory by defeating BIG EAST foe DePaul, 64-61, on Dec. 22 at Alico Arena.

YOU CAN BANKS ON IT
After having successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot over the summer, Atlantic Sun preseason All-Conference choice ANTHONY BANKS is starting to return to form. Not expected to return until late November, Banks has played all nine games this year, but has picked up his play over the last five games averaging 18,2 points and 8.6 rebounds. Banks has led the team in scoring in four of the five games with three double-doubles and a pair of 20-point outings.

SCOUTING THE EAGLES
Led by first-year head coach LeVelle Moton, NCCU enters Tuesday night's tilt with a 4-5 record. Three of the Eagles' four wins have come against non-Division 1 schools, while four of their five losses have come against BCS Conference programs. In its second game of the year, N.C. Central took Big XII foe Oklahoma to overtime on the road before falling by eight points. The Eagles are led by the backcourt duo of C.J. Wilkerson and Landon Clement who combine to average 32.2 points. Wilkerson, who averages a team-best 16.4 points per game, has finished in double figures in all nine games, highlighted by a 27-point outing at Miami. Like Wilkerson, Clement has reached double-digits in each contest, ranking second on the team at 15.8 points. Junior forward Nick Chasten is the team's third double figure scorer (10.4) and leads the team in rebounding (7.4). NCCU has limited its opponents to a 39 percent shooting clip, while accumulating nearly 100 steals. The Eagles are in their first season as a member of the MEAC.

ALL-TIME SERIES
Tuesday's game marks the third straight season the two teams have met. FGCU took the first two meetings, winning last year's game on the road by a 76-67 margin. The Eagles defeated NCCU, 66-58, in December of 2008 at Alico Arena. The box score from last year's meeting is below.

AGAINST THE MEAC
FGCU is 4-1 all-time against members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), including 2-1 at Alico Arena. Four of the five meetings have been decided by 10 points or less.

HEAD COACHING MATCHUP
FGCU HEAD COACH
Dave Balza
@ FGCU: 145-107 (9th Season)
Overall: 180-156 (12th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 18-40 (4th Season)
Vs. NCCU: 2-0

N.C. CENTRAL HEAD COACH
LeVelle Moton
@ NCCU: 4-5 (First Season)
Overall: Same MEAC: 0-0 (First Season)
Vs. FGCU: First Meeting

INSIDE-OUT THREAT
The inside-out combination of redshirt sophomore forward ANTHONY BANKS and senior guard REED BAKER give FGCU one of the most prolific scoring duos in the A-Sun. Both have finished in double figures in six of nine games and have led the Eagles in scoring 31 of their 38 contests together, including 13 of the last 14, dating back to last season. For their careers, both have reached double figures in the same game 18 times and currently stack up as the third-best scoring tandem in the A-Sun. The duo has combined to score 35 or more points five times this season and 40 or more twice. Baker and Banks rank fourth and eighth, respectively, in scoring.

SPALDING DIET
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has been on a strict offensive rebounding diet, collecting 4.0 caroms per contest. Banks has grabbed a staggering 36 offensive boards this season, including nine against ACC foe Miami which equaled his career-best. Banks leads the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (4.0) and as of Dec. 18 ranked tied for 16th in the nation. Banks has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in a game six times this season and 15 for his career. He currently ranks tied for sixth overall in the A-Sun at 7.0 caroms per contest.

GOING OUT WITH A BANG
After transferring to FGCU after his freshman season at Michigan, senior REED BAKER is having the best season of his collegiate career. Baker ranks fourth in the A-Sun in scoring at 16.3 points per game and has finished in double figures in seven of nine games, including 20 or more three times. The Naples, Fla. product also ranks second in the conference in steals per game (2.2) and free throw percentage (.857).

ON THE OFFENSIVE
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 lead the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (14.0). FGCU has grabbed double figure offensive boards in 35 of its last 39 games, including eight of nine this season. A year removed from grabbing 100 offensive caroms, Banks already has 36 this season to lead the A-Sun, while four more players have double-digit offensive caroms.

DOUBLE DOWN
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS' A-Sun leading four double-doubles in nine games are just one off his total from all of last year. Banks is trying to track down Landon Alder's single-season record of 16 double-doubles set in 2006-07 and his Division I record of six set in 2007-08. Alder is the all-time leader with 22 career double-doubles, while Banks is third with nine.

TAKE IT TO THE BANKS
The versatility of ANTHONY BANKS is on full display again this season. Banks is second on the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game while leading in field goal percentage (.505), rebounding (7.0) and offensive rebounds (36). Banks has led the team in scoring five times, rebounding five times and both in the same game on four occasions. He's reached double figures in a team-best eight games while posting a league-best four double-doubles.

20/20 VISION
The A-Sun's fourth leading scorer, senior REED BAKER has reached the 20-point plateau three times this season. Baker was joined by junior TIM SNYDER in the 20-point club at Grambling, while ANTHONY BANKS scored 21 points to Baker's 20 against Miami. The two games marked the fourth and fifth time, respectively, that a pair of players has gone for at least 20 points in the same game since FGCU joined Division I. Baker has been a part of four of the five occasions. The Naples, Fla. product has 12 career 20-point games.

THE FLOOR GENERAL
Junior MARLON RIVERA has taken over the reins of the point guard position with his strong play on both ends of the court. Rivera is one of three players in the A-Sun in the top 15 in assists per game and rebounds per game. The FGCU floor general has led the team in assists seven times and ranks tied for third in the league in assists per contest (4.8). Rivera's 5.8 rebounds per game rank 15th in the A-Sun, while he's fifth in steals per game (1.9). Rivera also averages 6.7 points and has reached double figures twice.

LENDING A HELPING HAND
Junior MARLON RIVERA has brought stability to the point guard position virtue of his positive 1.25 assist/turnover ratio that ranks 10th in the A-Sun Rivera has dished out five or more assists five times this season, including three straight, and has finished with more assists than turnovers on seven occasions.

COUNTDOWN TO THE BIG 1-0-0-0
With a fast start to his senior campaign, REED BAKER is rapidly approaching the 1000-point plateau for his FGCU career. Thanks to his team-best 16.3 points per game, Baker is just 106 points away from becoming the third player in program history to score 1,000 points. He currently sits in fourth place all-time with 895 points and has a 12.9 scoring average over 68 games.

LICENSE TO STEAL
Along with his scoring prowess, senior REED BAKER has upped his game on the defensive end with 20 steals. A year ago, Baker registered just 25 steals and is just five away from equaling that total. With an average of 2.2 steals per game, Baker ranks third, while MARLON RIVERA is just behind him in fifth (1.9). For his career, Baker has 18 multi-steal games, highlighted by seven against ETSU on Jan. 12, 2009 - the second most in single-game history. Baker nearly equaled his career-high with six at UNF.

SPARK PLUG
Now nine games into his collegiate career, freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is starting to feel comfortable in his role off the bench. Over five games off the pine, Varidel is averaging 9.8 points compared to 5.5 points over four games as a starter. Both of Varidel's double figure scoring efforts have come off the bench, including a season-best 16 points at UNF in the A-Sun opener. The Versoix, Switzerland native ranks ninth in the A-Sun with 1.89 three-pointers per game.

GETTING THE PARTY STARTED
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has scored the first point(s) of the game for FGCU a team-best four times this season. Senior REED BAKER is the only other player to do so more than once with two.