FGCU (6-18, 3-12 A-Sun) at Western Kentucky (11-13, 6-6 Sun Belt)
DATE: Monday, Feb. 14, 2011
CITY: Bowling Green, Ky.
SITE: E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326)
TIP-OFF: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox College Sports
CHANNEL: DirecTV - Ch. 617
TALENT: Randy Lee (P-X-P) & Hal Schmitt (Color)
LIVE AUDIO: www.WKUSPORTS.com
LIVE STATS: www.WKUSPORTS.com
SERIES: First Meeting
LAST MEETING: None
LAST GAME: Mercer 74, FGCU 61 - Feb. 12
AT A GLANCE
FGCU puts an end to its six-day, three-game road swing and its non-conference schedule on Monday night in Bowling Green, Ky. against Western Kentucky. The meeting is the first-ever between the two teams and the Eagles' second against a Sun Belt Conference member. FGCU has dropped both games on its current road trip, while the Hilltoppers are coming off an 87-76 win over Sun Belt West Division favorite North Texas. The game will be WKU's fifth straight at E.A. Diddle Arena where they are 5-6 with an average attendance over 4,000.
AGAINST THE SUN BELT
FGCU has met a member of the Sun Belt Conference in each of its three seasons in Division I. All six of the Blue and Green's games against the Sun Belt have come against in-state rivals FAU and FIU. FGCU has split the six meetings at 3-3, going 1-1 against FAU and 2-2 vs. FIU.
The second half of the season has been a youth movement for the Eagles, as underclassmen have led the team in scoring the last 11 games and 13 of out the last 14. Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has been the catalyst, hitting for double figures in 12 consecutive games to average 16.8 points along the way. Varidel has led the team in scoring eight times over the 12 games, while hitting 42 three-pointers. Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has reached double figures in 18 of the last 20 games.
SCOUTING THE HILLTOPPERS
Winners of six of its last eight games, Western Kentucky upped its overall mark to 11-13 with its recent run. Like the Eagles, the Hilltoppers are in the midst of playing three games in five days and will cap a five-game homestand on Monday night. WKU is led by a terrific trio of seniors in the frontcourt that combine to average 44 points and 23.3 rebounds per game. The preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Sergio Kerusch leads the way with 15.6 points and 8.1 boards per contest. Kerusch has accumulated seven double-doubles in the last 11 games and scored in double figures 18 times. Senior Juan Pattillo, a transfer from Oklahoma, has contributed 10 double-doubles en route to leading the team in rebounding (9.5). Pattillo also contributes 14.2 points per game thanks 19 double figure outings. Steffphon Pettigrew is the final double-digit scorer at 14.2 per game. With nearly 1,500 points and 500 rebounds to his credit, Pettigrew was named to the Sun Belt preseason All-Conference team as the Hilltoppers were deemed the favorites in the East Division. WKU has advanced to the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals in six straight seasons.
HEAD COACHING MATCHUP
FGCU HEAD COACH
@ FGCU: 149-118 (9th Season)
Overall: 184-167 (12th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 21-50 (4th Season)
Vs. WKU: First Meeting
WESTERN KENTUCKY HEAD COACH
@ WKU: 57-35 (3rd Season)
Vs. FGCU: First Meeting
Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is climbing up the A-Sun ranks in three-pointers per game and sits second at a 2.63 per game clip thanks to 12 straight games with multi-threes. Out of Varidel's 86 made field goals on season, 63 have come from beyond the arc. Varidel has made three or more trifectas in a game 14 times and is tied for sixth among all freshmen in three-pointers made. Validating his shooting prowess, Varidel ranks ninth in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 38.2.
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has been on a strict offensive rebounding diet, collecting a staggering 85 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 (3.54). He has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in a game seven times this season and 16 for his career. He ranks 12th in the A-Sun at 6.0 caroms per contest.
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 (31st nationally) at a 5.4 clip. Rivera has led the team in assists 22 times, highlighted by six 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.
TAKE IT TO THE BANKS
The versatility of ANTHONY BANKS is on full display again this season. Banks leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game while also leading in rebounding (6.0) and offensive rebounds (85). Banks has led the team in scoring nine times, rebounding eight times and both in the same game on six occasions. He's reached double figures in a team-best 21 games while accumulating four double-doubles and four 20-point outings.
FINDING HIS MARK
No FGCU player has been hotter than freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL over the last 11 games. Highlighted by a 29-point performance at Stetson, Varidel is averaging 16.5 points per game over the last 11 contests on the strength of 38 three-pointers. The Versoix, Switzerland product has reached double figures in all 11 games, leading the team in scoring seven times.
After averaging 8.3 points over the first 15 games, freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has reached the double figure plateau by halftime in five of the last nine contests. Varidel's recent scoring surge has his season average up to 11.8 points per game, good for 17th in the A-Sun and third among league freshmen.
FREE THROW FREEBIES
Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has made 33 of his last 34 attempts from the free throw line, including 14 in a row. Varidel's torrid shooting from the charity stripe has him third in the A-Sun at 83.1 percent (49-59).