FGCU Hosts USC Upstate On Super Bowl Sunday
Saturday, February 05, 2011

FGCU (5-16, 2-10) vs. USC Upstate (4-19, 3-10)
Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 1:05 p.m. ET
TALENT: Tom James (Play-by-Play)
SERIES: FGCU leads, 3-2
LAST MEETING: Upstate 59, FGCU 52 - Feb. 25, 2010
LAST GAME: ETSU 66, FGCU 59 - Jan. 30

FGCU and USC Upstate will meet for the first time season on Super Bowl Sunday after the scheduled meeting on Jan. 10 in Spartanburg, S.C. was postponed due to snow. With forecasts in the mid-70s, weather won't stop the Eagles from attempting to snap a three-game losing streak and improve on their 3-2 all-time mark against the Spartans. USC Upstate enters the game on its second two-game win streak of the season and is coming off a 72-59 win at Stetson on Friday night.

Close games have been a staple in the five meetings between the two teams, including three contests decided by seven points or less. Last year, the visiting team was victorious in both games with Upstate getting the last laugh in Fort Myers in the season finale. FGCU owns a 3-2 edge in the all-time series and has won the first of two meetings between the two schools the last two seasons.

Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL became the second FGCU player to earn weekly praise from the A-Sun this week when he was named the Newcomer of the Week by the league. Varidel poured in a team season-high 29 points in FGCU's thrilling 111-103 triple-overtime win at Stetson and finished the three-game week with a scoring average of 20.7. Varidel has led the team in scoring seven of the last nine contests and ranks third in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.6).

Like FGCU, USC Upstate is in their final transition year into Division I and will be fully eligible for A-Sun and postseason play next season. The Spartans have lost six games by 10 points or less and sit at 4-19 overall and 3-10 in the A-Sun. Upstate handed ETSU one of its only two A-Sun losses of the season and enters on a two-game win streak. One of the lead candidates for A-Sun Freshman of the Year, Torrey Craig boasts team-bests of 15.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Craig is averaging 18.6 points and 8.3 boards in A-Sun action, reaching double figures in 14 consecutive contests. Craig is averaging 23.5 points and 10.0 boards over his last two games. A season-high four players reached double figures in Friday's win at Stetson, highlighted by 20 points and 14 boards from Craig. Senior guard Josh Chavis' 8.0 points per game come on the strength of 47 three-pointers. Standing 6-foot-7, freshman Babatunde Olumuyiwa leads the A-Sun and ranks in the top 20 nationally in blocks per game (2.7). The Spartans make a solid 7.3 threes per game, but have gotten off 169 more long range attempts than their opponents.

Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has been on a strict offensive rebounding diet, collecting a staggering 78 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 (3.7) by a full board per contest. He has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in a game seven times this season and 16 for his career. He ranks ninth in the A-Sun at 6.4 caroms per contest.

Junior MARLON RIVERA has taken over the reins of the point guard position and leads the A-Sun in assists per game (34th nationally) at a 5.4 clip. Rivera has led the team in assists 19 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. Rivera eclipsed the 100 assists mark, marking the seventh time in nine seasons a player has accomplished the feat for the Eagles.

With 33 threes in his last nine games, freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is climbing up the A-Sun ranks in three-pointers per game and sits third at a 2.6 per game clip. Out of Varidel's 69 made field goals on season, 54 have come from beyond the arc. Varidel has made three or more trifectas in a game 12 times, including nine straight games. Validating his shooting prowess, Varidel ranks seventh in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 37.8.

The versatility of ANTHONY BANKS is on full display again this season. Banks leads the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game while also leading in rebounding (6.4) and offensive rebounds (78). Banks has led the team in scoring eight times, rebounding eight times and both in the same game on six occasions. He's reached double figures in a team-best 19 games while accumulating four double-doubles and four 20-point outings.

No FGCU player has been hotter than freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL over the last nine games. Highlighted by a 29-point performance at Stetson, Varidel is averaging 17.1 points per game over the last nine contests on the strength of 33 three-pointers. The Versoix, Switzerland product has reached double figures in all nine games, leading the team in scoring seven times. Even more impressive, Varidel is averaging 18.7 points since being inserted back into the starting lineup seven games ago.

Just 50 games into his career, sophomore ANTHONY BANKS is FGCU's all-time leader in offensive rebounds with 178. Banks has twice tied the record for most offensive rebounds in a game with nine and owns the single-season record with 100 in 2009-10 as a freshman. At Stetson, he surpassed 300 career rebounds and currently sits in eighth place all-time (325).

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 second in the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (13.4). FGCU has grabbed double figure offensive boards in 45 of its last 51 games, including 18 this season. Banks is a year removed from grabbing 100 offensive caroms and has 178 for his career compared to 147 defensive rebounds. The Eagles' relentlessness on the offensive glass has led to nine straight games with double figure second chance points and an average of 12.5 per game.

For the second straight game at Stetson, four players finished in double figures for the Eagles helping them win their second straight. It marked the fourth time this season that four FGCU players have reached double-digits in the same game, moving the Blue and Green to 3-1 when the feat happens. Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS is averaging 21 points in those games.

Several program records fell during FGCU's 111-103 triple-overtime win at Stetson on Jan. 25 - the longest game in program history. The 111 points scored were a Division I record for the Blue and Green and the third-best total in the nine-year history as they took a record 60 free throws (41-60). The two teams combined 214 points were the most in a single game FGCU has participated in.

Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS' four double-doubles in 21 games are just one off his total from all of last year and tied for second 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.

With his strong play on both ends of the court, junior MARLON RIVERA in the top 20 in rebounds, top 5 in assists and top 5 in steals. The FGCU floor general's 5.5 rebounds per game are 20th in the A-Sun, while he's fourth in steals per game (1.8). Rivera also averages 7.0 points and has reached double figures seven times. Against Lipscomb, he became the first player this season to lead the team in points (14), rebounds (7) and assists (6) in the same game.

With a steal in 18 of 21 games, junior MARLON RIVERA has 37 steals to rank fourth in the A-Sun (1.8). Rivera has nine multi-steal contests, highlighted by five against Jacksonville.

Now 21 games into their first season in the Blue and Green, freshmen CHASE FIELER and CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL have combined to score over 20 points in each of the last five games and are averaging 27.8 per game over that span. Varidel notched 16 points, while Fieler came off the bench for season-high of 14 points and seven rebounds in a win at Campbell. At Stetson, Varidel went off for 29 points, while Fieler chipped in with nine points. Varidel is third on the team in scoring at 11.3 per game, while Fieler moved into third place on the team's rebounding charts after grabbing a season-high 11 Friday night against ETSU.