GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Looks For Three in a Row Against Kennesaw St.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
(Photo by Dennis Snyder)
(Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Kennesaw State (3-19, 0-10 A-Sun)
Florida Gulf Coast (11-10, 6-4 A-Sun)
1/28/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena) | Attendance: 2810
Kennesaw State324274
Florida Gulf Coast395392
Stats at a GlanceKSUFGCU
FG Percentage.476 (30-63) .604 (29-48)
3P FG Percentage.375 (9-24) .438 (7-16)
FT Percentage.385 (5-13) .794 (27-34)
Offensive Rebounds146
Defensive Rebounds1823
Total Rebounds3229
Bench Points634
Statistical LeadersKSUFGCU
PointsCummings - 20
ReboundsAnderson - 11
AssistsLove - 7
StealsLove - 4
BlocksCummings - 1

FGCU (10-10, 5-4 A-SUN) vs. Kennesaw State (3-18, 0-9 A-SUN)
DATE: Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 5:15 p.m. ET
TALENT: Tom James (P-B-P)
J. Webb Horton (Analyst)
LAST 10 GAMES: 7-3
AT HOME: 7-2
SERIES: Kennesaw State leads, 6-3
LAST MEETING: FGCU 62, @Kennesaw St. 55 - Jan. 4, 2012

Coming off its top two offensive performances of the season, FGCU will be in search of its first three-game win streak of the year when it hosts Kennesaw State on Saturday night in an Atlantic Sun showdown at Alico Arena. The Eagles enter the weekend in a three-way tie for fourth place in the A-Sun, thanks to a program-best 5-4 start. Already with a Division I record five wins in January, FGCU will be in search of its fifth win in six games and could equal the program D-1 record with its 11th victory.

FGCU has set a season-high for points in each of its last two games, culminating with a 101-point night against Longwood on Tuesday night. Over the two victories, the Eagles are averaging 96.5 points on 61 percent (73-119) shooting from the field and five players averaging double figure points. FGCU has broken a pair of D-1 records during the spurt, shooting 64.7 percent (33-51) at Stetson and defeating Longwood by 43 points (101-58). Freshman BRETT COMER is averaging 15.5 points and 9.5 assists over the two games resulting in him having a hand in 40 percent (78) of the team's points.

Saturday will be the second meeting between the two teams this month, as FGCU snapped a four-game losing skid against the Owls on Jan. 4, with a 62-55 win at Kennesaw State. Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON led the Eagles to their first-ever win at KSU, scoring a season-high 22 points, including 18 in the second half, in his home state of Georgia. Six of the nine meetings between the two teams have been decided by eight points or less, as Kennesaw State leads the all-time series, 6-3.

A new era of Kennesaw State basketball began on April 20, 2011, when Lewis Preston was named head coach. Just 20 days after FGCU named coach Enfield its second-ever head coach, Preston took over at KSU after three years as an assistant at Penn State. The Owls opened the season 2-2, but have since dropped 16 of their last 17 games, including the last nine. KSU does sport the A-Sun's top scoring tandem and a pair of 1,000 point career scorers in senior Spencer Dixon and junior Markeith Cummings, who combine 29.0 points per night. Cummings ranks third in the A-Sun in scoring at 15.8 points on the strength of 17 double figure outings. Dixon, who hit the game-winning three against the Eagles last season at KSU, is one of three players in the A-Sun to rank in the top 10 in both scoring (13.2/8th) and assists (3.8/T-7th). Junior Aaron Anderson leads the A-Sun in rebounding (9.1), while also topping the league in double-doubles (7) and 10+ rebound games (10).

LAST GAME: FGCU Rolls to Non-Conference Win Over Longwood
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Behind another torrid shooting night from the field that included a season-high 13 three-pointers, FGCU defeated visiting Longwood in convincing fashion, 101-58, in a non-conference contest Tuesday night at Alico Arena. • The win was the fourth in five games for the Eagles, who evened their record at 10-10 on the season, equaling their win total from all of last year. The 100-point outing was FGCU’s second since joining Division I in 2007-08, while it also set a record for its largest win in D-1 history. • Five players reached double figures for the sixth time in the last 10 games for the Blue and Green, led by junior SHERWOOD BROWN’S 20-point and 10-rebound night. • Sophomore sharpshooter CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL continued to provide a big spark off the bench with 17 points on 4-of-5 from three-point land. Varidel was one of three double figures off the pine, as the FGCU bench turned in a season-best 49 points compared to just eight from the Lancers. • Ball movement was a big part of FGCU’s seventh shooting performance of 50 percent or better from the field, as it passed out a season-high 24 assists. Freshman BRETT COMER accounted for half of the assists.

Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON is making a strong case for A-Sun Freshman of the Year, leading all conference rookies in scoring (11.9), rebounding (4.9) and steals (2.0) - figures that are all in the top 20 in the A-Sun. The Conyers, Ga. product has led FGCU in scoring seven times thanks to a team-best 15 double figure outings that has him 13th overall in the A-Sun in scoring.

Coming off a program Division I record 64.7 percent shooting night (33-51) at Stetson, FGCU leads the A-Sun in field goal percentage (.472) while ranking second in three-point percentage (.389). The Eagles have been held below 40 percent in a game just two times this season, while going 6-1 when breaking the 50-percent plateau. FGCU has never shot 50 percent or better three straight games since joining Division I in 2007-08 and has done so just three times in the 10 years of the program, but will have a chance against Kennesaw. The Green and Blue's current 47.2 field goal percentage is on pace to break the single-season record and snap a string of four straight years at 42 percent or lower.

Freshman BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun and is third among all freshmen and 41st nationally in assists per game (5.7). Highlighted by his most recent 12-assist night against Longwood, Comer is the first A-Sun player since 2007 to have three double figure assist games in the same season. Over his current six-game run, he is averaging 12.8 points and 6.5 assists, while going 28-of-46 from the floor with an even or positive assists/turnover ratio all six contests. Comer has led the team in assists in all but one game and has passed out seven or more helpers seven times. In FGCU's five A-Sun wins, Comer has 34 assists and 17 turnovers.

Through 20 games, FGCU averages 29.3 points per game off the bench, highlighted by 90 points over the last two games. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 17 games, including the team's leading scorer on 10 occasions, while scoring 25+ points 15 times as a unit. At SMU, sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL poured in 20 points on 6-of-7 from three-point land and turned in another 20-point game against Maine to account for the top two bench efforts. Looking further, the bench is shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 44.6 percent (87-195) from three. Last game vs. Longwood, the bench produced 49 points for their 40+ point night of the season.

FGCU is second in the A-Sun at a 38.9 percent clip from three-point range, a mark that ranks 48th in the nation. The Eagles have made at least eight threes in 11 of the last 14 games led by a season-high 13 on Tuesday against Longwood. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is second in the conference individually, shooting 47 percent (42-90) from beyond the arc, while freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN is fourth (.439), junior Sherwood Brown (.410) is sixth and freshman BERNARD THOMPSON is 11th (.379).

A season-best five players have reached double figures in six of FGCU's last 10 games (6-0), while the Eagles are 7-2 when four or more players reach double-digits in the same game. Freshman BRETT COMER'S 24 points at Stetson were the most by an Eagle this season as he became the fourth player to reach the 20 point plateau. A total of eight players have reached the double-digits this season, while six have led the team in scoring at least once.

FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 49 percent of the scoring (35.3), 36 percent of the rebounds (12.3) and 67 percent of the assists (9.0). At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 18 of 20 games, including the last 12, while the Eagles are 6-0 when three members of the quartet accomplish the feat. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 11.9 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Point guard BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun with 5.7 assists per game, a mark that ranks third among freshmen nationally. Comer is fourth on the team in scoring (9.4) followed classmate DANTE HOLMES (8.7). Thompson's 11.9 points are tops among all freshmen in the A-Sun and have come on a team-high 15 double figure outings. Freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN has reached double figures six times, and has multiple threes in a game on 10 occasions.

Named the A-Sun Player of the Week by College Sports Madness on Jan. 17, junior SHERWOOD BROWN leads the team in both scoring (12.1) and rebounding (5.4) - figures that rank 12th and 13th in the A-Sun, respectively. With team-bests of two 20-point games and two double-doubles, Brown has reached double figures 10 times in 16 contests, and also ranks ninth in the A-Sun with a 52.6 FG percentage.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double-digits eight times this season compared to five through all of last year, and is averaging 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds. Against Maine, Fieler hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 11 points for his first double-double. Fieler leads the team in both offensive rebounds (34) and blocks (22).

Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has found his stroke that helped him finish fifth in the nation among all freshmen in 2010-11 with 78 three-pointers. Varidel is second in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.467) and is 10th in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.1). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game eight times this season. He has also reached double-digits eight times, including a team-best two 20-point outings.

Aside from being the league's top scoring freshman (11.9), BERNARD THOMPSON has used is long 6-foot-3 frame to his benefit on the defensive end. Up until playing Jacksonville, Thompson had a streak of 13 games with steal and ranks second in the A-Sun at 2.0 thefts per game. Thompson has 15 multi-steal performances, highlighted by four against UNF. Thompson is on pace for 60 steals, a mark that would finish top five in single-season history. As a team, FGCU ranks third in the A-Sun and 41st in the country (8.3).

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 6.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. The Fort Myers product produced his first career double-double against Toledo, going for 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds over 36 minutes. Murray is shooting 60.9 percent (53-87) from the floor over 22.5 minutes per game. Murray has surpassed all the totals he put up through two full seasons in just 20 games this year.

A big part of the early success of the FGCU bench has been the performance of sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL off the pine. Varidel has been in the starting lineup, but has turned in season-highs off the bench. His 10.6 points per game average off the pine is 2.9 points better than his average in the starting five. Varidel poured in 20 points at SMU and against Maine, 17 at Loyola Maryland and vs. Longwood, and 16 against Toledo to lead the team in scoring four times off the bench.

Highlighted by freshman BERNARD THOMPSON'S 18 points at Kennesaw State and three second half performances of 15 points by three different players, FGCU has turned in some great stretches over the final 20 minutes. 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 Nebraska, the Eagles limited the Huskers to just 25 second half points, while they scored a program D-1 record 60 points against Longwood on 25-of-38 from the field. SHERWOOD BROWN (at Miami), BRETT COMER (Ave Maria) and Thompson (at Loyola) have all scored 15 points in one second half. More proof of FGCU's balance, six different players have scored double figure points in at least one second half.