Mercer (4-13, 1-5) vs. FGCU (3-12, 0-6)
DATE: Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 2:05 p.m. ET
LIVE AUDIO & STATS: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
TALENT: Tom James (Play-by-Play)
J. Webb-Horton (Analyst)
LIVE VIDEO: ASun.TV
SERIES: Mercer leads, 5-1
LAST MEETING: Mercer 78, FGCU 72
Feb. 1, 2010 (Box Score on Pg. 2)
AGAINST THE A-SUN: 18-44
LAST GAME: Kennesaw 81, FGCU 70 - Jan. 14
UP NEXT: at Campbell - Jan. 20, 2011
AT A GLANCE
FGCU will look to snap a five-game losing streak on Sunday when it welcomes Mercer to Alico Arena for its second A-Sun contest of the weekend. The home game will be the last this month for the Eagles, as they'll play four straight road contests to close January. FGCU is hoping that last year’s 71-70 win over the Bears will help them avoid their second six-game losing streak of the season.
FGCU picked up its first win over Mercer last season at Alico Arena, coming away with a one-point victory, 71-70, on an ANTHONY BANKS layup with three seconds remaining. The Bears got their revenge later in the year in Macon, escaping with a 78-72 victory marking the fourth time the two teams have played a game decided by 10 points or less. Mercer holds a 5-1 lead in the all-time series. Banks averaged 17.5 point and 7.5 rebounds in two games against Mercer last season.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Just 44 games into his career, sophomore ANTHONY BANKS is just one offensive rebound away from tying the school record for offensive rebounds (159). Banks totaled 100 last season and already has 58 through 15 games - best in the A-Sun Conference.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
Mercer enters Alico Arena with a 4-13 overall record and 1-5 mark in the A-Sun as it preps to play its third consecutive road game. The Bears advanced all the way to the A-Sun Tournament title game a year ago, but have struggled to win the close games going 3-8 in contests decided by 10 points or less. Highlighting those close losses is a one-point defeated to Charlotte and a three-point heartbreak to Georgia, who recently defeated Kentucky. Veteran leadership is prevalent in the starting lineup with four seniors, but the Bears have 10 freshman on their roster. Jeff Smith leads a balanced scoring attack from the senior class, averaging 14.5 points per game thanks to 95 trips to the free throw line. Classmate Brian Mills isn't far behind at a 14.1 points per game clip while also adding 6.2 boards. Senior Brandon Moore combines with Mills to give Mercer a formidable inside presence, as the 6-foot-6 forward averages 12.1 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds.
HEAD COACHING MATCHUP
FGCU HEAD COACH Dave Balza
@ FGCU: 146-112 (9th Season)
Overall: 181-161 (12th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 18-44 (4th Season)
Vs. Mercer: 1-5
MERCER HEAD COACH Bob Hoffman
@ Mercer: 37-45 (3rd Season)
Overall: 349-199 (17th Season)
Vs. FGCU: 5-1
The inside-out combination of redshirt sophomore forward ANTHONY BANKS and senior guard REED BAKER give FGCU the third-highest scoring duo in the A-Sun. Both have finished in double figures in eight games and have led the Eagles in scoring 34 of their 43 contests together, including 11 times this season. For their careers, both have reached double figures in the same game 20 times, while the duo has combined to score 35 or more points six times this season and 40 or more three times.
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has been on a strict offensive rebounding diet, collecting a staggering 58 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 (3.9). He has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in a game seven times this season and 16 for his career. He ranks tied for 11th in the A-Sun at 6.3 caroms per contest. Banks is just one shy of equaling the career offensive rebound total in program history.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Junior MARLON RIVERA has taken over the reins of the point guard position and leads the A-Sun in assists per game (32nd nationally) at a 5.7 clip. Rivera has led the team in assists 13 times, highlighted by five outings with seven helpers or more. On Dec. 21 in a win over N.C. Central, Rivera dished out 12 assists - the second-most in the program's Division I history and one of three double-digit performances by an A-Sun player this season. FGCU has had a player dish out 100 or more assists in six of the program's first nine seasons. In seven games at Alico Arena this season, Rivera is averaging 8.7 points, 8.0 assists and 6.4 rebounds.
Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL leads the team and ranks fourth in the Atlantic Sun in three-pointers per game (2.2). Out of Varidel's 38 made field goals on season, 33 have come from beyond the arc. Varidel has made three or more trifectas in a game six times, including three straight games. Over the last three contests, Varidel is averaging 14 points thanks to 12 three-pointers. On Friday night, Varidel made his first start since Dec. 4, scoring a team-best 18 points.
TAKE IT TO THE BANKS
The versatility of ANTHONY BANKS is on full display again this season. Banks leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game while leading in rebounding (6.3) and offensive rebounds (58). Banks has led the team in scoring seven times, rebounding seven times and both in the same game on six occasions. He's reached double figures in a team-best 13 games while posting a league-best four double-doubles.
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 ANTHONY BANKS, the Eagles are tied for second in the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (13.0). FGCU has grabbed double figure offensive boards in 39 of its last 45 games, including 12 this season. Banks is a year removed from grabbing 100 offensive caroms and has 158 for his career compared to 128 defensive rebounds.
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS' four double-doubles in 15 games are just one off his total from all of last year and tied for first in the A-Sun. Banks is trying to track down Landon Adler's single-season Division I record of six set in 2007-08. Adler is the all-time leader with 22 career double-doubles, while Banks is third with nine.