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GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Set to Face Big Ten Foe Nebraska
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||NEB|
|FG Percentage||.400 (18-45)||.400 (18-45)|
|3P FG Percentage||.450 (9-20)||.292 (7-24)|
|FT Percentage||.500 (5-10)||.615 (8-13)|
MURRAY - 4
THOMPSON - 3
FIELER - 3
Spencer - 1
MURRAY - 2
BROWN - 2
FGCU (3-5, 1-0 A-SUN) at Nebraska (4-3)
DATE: Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011
CITY: Lincoln, Neb.
SITE: Devaney Center (13,595)
TIP-OFF: 8:00 p.m. ET
LIVE VIDEO: www.BTN.com
TALENT: Josh Peterson (P-B-P)
Brandon Aksamit (Analyst)
LIVE AUDIO: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
TALENT: Gary Sharp (P-B-P)
LIVE STATS: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
SERIES: First Meeting
VS. THE BIG TEN: 0-5
CURRENT STREAK: W1
LAST 5 GAMES: 1-4
AT A GLANCE
Still in search of its first road win under head coach Andy Enfield, FGCU makes its lone trip away from home in December when it heads to the mid-west to take on Big Ten foe Nebraska on Wednesday night at the Devaney Center. The Eagles opened a hectic start to the season with five road games in November, including a pair against BCS schools, but play a total of five games in December. FGCU carries the momentum of a 72-63 win in its Atlantic Sun opener against ETSU into their sixth-ever game against a member of the Big Ten. Junior SHERWOOD BROWN is coming off his second career 20-point game and now leads the team in scoring at 11.8 points per contest. No FGCU player has led the team in scoring or rebounding in back-to-back games this season.
All five of FGCU's road losses on the young season have been by 10 points or less and have come by a combined 21 points. The Eagles' five road opponents so far this season currently all have a winning record and a combined mark of 26-11. A pair of one-point defeats in Dallas against TCU (73-72) and SMU (65-64), and a three-point loss at Loyola Maryland (77-74) headline the heartbreaking losses. On the road, FGCU is shooting a respectable 44 percent from the floor and has out-rebounded all five opponents.
AGAINST THE BIG TEN
Wednesday night's game at Nebraska will mark the fifth straight year FGCU has taken on a member of the Big Ten - each year the program has been a member of Division I. The Eagles are 0-5 all-time against the Big Ten and prior to this season had opened the year at a Big Ten member twice.
SCOUTING THE HUSKERS
In its first season as a member of the Big Ten, Nebraska is off to a 4-3 start under sixth-year head coach Doc Sadler. After starting 3-0 with a win at PAC-12 foe USC in double-overtime, the Huskers have dropped three of their last four, including the last two. Nebraska is led by a senior trio of guards and pair of talented junior big men that make up an experienced starting five. A get-to-the rim point guard, Bo Spencer leads Nebraska in scoring at 17.3 points per game. Since a six-point night to open the season, Spencer has reached double figures six straight games, leading the team in scoring five times, highlighted by a three 20-point outings. Last game at Creighton, Spencer, a transfer from LSU, poured in 29 points on 10-of-16 from the floor against the Blue Jays. Junior Jorge Brian Diaz is second on the squad in both scoring (11.6) and rebounding (4.9), standing at 6-foot-11. A well balanced team, Nebraska shoots a solid 45 percent from the floor and 77 percent from the free throw line, commits just 13.9 turnovers per game and holds a +4.4 margin on the boards per game.
NEW COACH, NEW HOPES
On March 31st, the FGCU men’s basketball program got a new look for its 10th season in program history when ANDY ENFIELD was named head coach. Enfield, who spent the previous five years as an assistant with Florida State, is the second head coach in FGCU’s brief history. While at FSU, Enfield was a part of two teams that advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and back-to-back clubs that lead the NCAA in defensive field goal percentage.
Three different FGCU players are averaging double figure points on the young season with another is just two-tenths of a point under the double-digit mark. The Eagles are one of six teams in the A-Sun with at least three double figure scorers. Seven different players have reached double figures in a game, while four different players have led the team in scoring, including three off the bench. Looking further, no player has led FGCU in scoring or rebounding in back-to-back games, while the same players has led the team in the two previously mentioned categories twice. Five players are playing 20 or more minutes per game, while nine players are above 13 per contest.
First-year head coach ANDY ENFIELD has used five different lineups through eight games trying to find the right combination with his young team. Nine different players have started at least one game, while four freshmen have earned a starting nod.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU
Highlighted by his first career double-double at Miami and a recent 20-point outing against ETSU, junior SHERWOOD BROWN has carried over a strong finish to his sophomore campaign into this season. Brown has reached double figures four times, leading the team in scoring (11.8) and tied for second in rebounding (5.5) - figures that rank 13th and 15th in the A-Sun, respectively. Sparked by a career-high 26 points in last year's season finale at USC Upstate, Brown finished last February (10 games) with a 11.2 scoring average - more than four points above his season mark. Brown reached double figures in each of the final four games, averaging 18.3 points while leading the team in scoring three times.
WE’LL PICK YOU UP
Through eight games, FGCU owns a 225-155 advantage in bench points, good for a +8.8 margin per game. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in six games, including the team's leading scorer on four occasions, while supplying 25+ points six times as a unit. At SMU, sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL poured in 20 points on 6-of-7 from three-point land, while junior SHERWOOD BROWN'S 19 points against Ave Maria to account for the top two efforts off the bench. At Loyola Maryland, FGCU received a season-high 44 points off the bench, highlighted by a game-high 17 from Varidel and BERNARD THOMPSON.
A big part of the early success of the FGCU bench has been the performances by freshman BERNARD THOMPSON and sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL off the pine. Both have also been in the starting lineup, but have turned in season-highs off the bench. Thompson has reached double figures all three games off the bench, averaging 14.7 points while shooting 53 percent (16-30). Varidel's 11.0 points per game average off the pine is nearly four points better than his average in the starting five. Varidel poured in 20 points at SMU and 17 at Loyola Maryland to lead the team in scoring both times.
FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 45 percent of the scoring, 33 percent of the rebounds and 68 percent of the assists. Combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON and point guard BRETT COMER rank second and third on the team in scoring at 11.3 and 10.1 points, respectively. Comer is the team's top assist man with 5.4 helpers per contest, a mark that ranks second in the A-Sun. Thompson's 11.3 points are second among all freshmen in the A-Sun and are joined by 5.5 rebounds per game. Thompson has scored in double figures a team-high six times, while Comer has done so in four games and both in the same game on four occasions. The duo was joined in double figures by classmate FILIP CVJETICANIN in the win over Prairie View A&M. DANTE HOLMES is the final member of the freshmen quartet that is having a big impact, averaging 6.3 points in 19 minutes per game.
SECOND HALF SURGE
Highlighted by three second half performances of 15 points by three different players, FGCU has overcome first half deficits in five of its games by averaging 38.5 points over the final 20 minutes while limiting its opponents to 32.9. Freshman BRETT COMER has been one of the catalysts to the second half turnaround, averaging 7.3 points over the span while passing out 27 assists that have led to 68 more points, giving him a hand in 41 percent of the points. As a team, FGCU is shooting 51 percent (109-213) in the second half, including 34-of-78 from three-point land. At Miami, FGCU tied a program D-1 record for second half points given up by limiting the Hurricanes to 18 points on 4-of-24 from the field. At Loyola, the Eagles scored a season-high 50 second half points.
Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is starting to find his stroke that helped him finish fifth in the nation among all freshmen in 2010-11 with 78 three-pointers. Varidel has made 14 of his last 23 three-point attempts to move into second in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.514) and tied for third in threes per game (2.4). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game four times this season, including the last two games. He has also reached double-digits three times.
Ranking among the leaders in the Atlantic Sun Conference in four statistical categories, freshman BRETT COMER is off to a fast start early in the year. Highlighted by a 10-assist effort against Prairie View and ETSU, Comer is second in the A-Sun and fifth among all freshmen nationally in assists per game (5.4). He has reached double figures in four games, resulting in 10.1 points per game, good for 29th overall and fifth among freshmen in the A-Sun.
Coming off a season in which he played just 84 total minutes, redshirt junior EDDIE MURRAY is thriving under the guidance of first-year head coach ANDY ENFIELD. Armed with athleticism and leadership, Murray is providing a youthful roster with career-highs of 6.5 points and 3.8 points per game. The Fort Myers product is shooting a scalding 68 percent (21-31) from the floor over 19 minutes per game. Murray has started the last two contests, averaging nine points and four boards.
Despite lacking a ton of size, FGCU has out-rebounded seven of eight opponents this season, owning a +3.0 margin on the boards. The Eagles are also averaging double-digit offensive caroms (11.9) that have helped them score 20+ points in the paint each contest and 106 over the last three. Over two games in Maryland, FGCU pulled down a season-best 17 offensive rebounds twice that led to another season-high in points in the paint (42) at Maryland. Four different players have double figure offensive rebounds on the season.