(4-9, 0-1 A-Sun)
(7-7, 1-0 A-Sun)
12/30/2013 | Alico Arena (Fort Myers, FL) | Attendance: 4534
|Stats at a Glance||NKU_1_~1||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.381
Northern Kentucky (4-8) @ FGCU (6-7)
Monday, Dec. 30 | 7:00 PM | Alico Arena (4,633)
PxP: David Moulton | Analyst: J. Webb Horton
Game Notes: FGCU | NKU | A-Sun (Printable)
DUNK CITY, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team (6-7) begins its Atlantic Sun Conference title defense Monday evening at Alico Arena as the Eagles commence league action with a 7 p.m. tilt against Northern Kentucky (4-8).
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be the first men’s contest at Alico to be broadcast on ESPN3. Fans can access the production free of charge by following the link at the top of this release or logging on to WatchESPN.com. David Moulton will handle the play-by-play duties with J. Webb Horton serving as the analyst. Live in-game and behind-the-scenes updates will be available through Twitter @FGCU_MBB, and live stats can be accessed by following the link at the top of the release or by logging on to the men’s basketball schedule page on FGCUAthletics.com.
SETTING THE STAGE
FGCU, which defeated Mercer on its home floor this past March to claim the 2013 A-Sun Championship, was tabbed as the preseason league favorite to repeat in 2013-14. The Eagles wrapped up non-conference action with a sub-.500 record, but did so playing 12 of the 13 games without redshirt junior Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy).
The Iowa State transfer, who was suspended for at least the first 12 games of the season for a violation of team rules, returned in the Eagles’ most recent game in Las Vegas against Radford, scoring seven points on 2-3 shooting and 3-4 from the free-throw line. One of four starters who return from last season’s record-making Sweet 16 squad, the 6-9 forward added three rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 25 minutes of action of the bench.
Northern Kentucky was predicted to finish in 9th place (out of 10 teams) in the A-Sun Preseason Poll. The Eagles defeated the Norse in both of their meetings last year (73-54, 60-53) in NKU’s first season as a Division-I member. The Green and Blue will be looking to open the league schedule with a victory for the third straight year, something which would give FGCU a good start on accomplishing an item it did not a year ago – win the regular-season title.
Mercer, which has been defeated by FGCU in each of the past two A-Sun tournaments, won the 2012-13 regular season with a 14-4 record, while the Eagles went 13-5. The 18-game regular season is even more important this year as the 2014 A-Sun Championship will be played on campus sites throughout the championship, hosted by the highest seeds advancing in each round.
The Eagles have been a member of the A-Sun since moving to D-I for the 2007-08 campaign. In that time they have claimed a 46-56 record within the league, but have garnered 21 of those victories in the past two seasons, and in addition own a 5-1 record in tournament action. After serving an NCAA mandated four-year D-I transition phase which prevented FGCU from competing in postseason play until 2011-12, the Eagles have made a statement the past two years.
In each of their two D-I postseason eligible years, the Eagles have been to the A-Sun Championship final game, falling in 2012 to Belmont before bouncing back last season to defeat Mercer on its home court, prefacing the Dunk City phenomenon which swept the nation during March Madness.
TWEETABLES (5 Things To Know In 140 Characters Or Less)
• Chase Fieler enters Monday’s game with 995 career points, five shy of becoming the program’s 5th 1,000-point scorer and 2nd this season.
• Dajuan Graf has the best +/- on the team at +45, +24 better than anyone else; his +3.46 per game average is twice as good as any other Eagle.
• FGCU leads the A-Sun in scoring defense, allowing just 67 points per game – nearly four points better than its next closest competitor.
• Junior Brett Comer, who leads the A-Sun in assists at 5.5 per game, is just six away from 500 helpers for his career.
• The Eagles are 19-2 at home since the start of the 2012-13 season, including a 4-1 mark this year and an 8-1 record in A-Sun games last campaign.
GOING DOWN FIGHTING
After losing its first four games of the year by an average of more than 18 points, two of FGCU’s last three losses have been by a total of three points. The Eagles fell in double overtime at USF on Dec. 17, 68-66, and then were on the wrong end of a game-winning Radford 3-pointer with 17 seconds left on Dec. 23 in Las Vegas, giving the Highlanders a 64-63 win (more info below).
HE DOES MORE THAN DISH
Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) is best known for his ability to pass The Rock, finishing 14th in the nation in assists per game (6.6) last year as a sophomore, but this year he’s proving to be a multi-faceted threat. The 6-3 guard leads FGCU in scoring per game (14.5), assists (5.5) and steals (1.6), making him one of only three players in the A-Sun to pace his team in all three categories. His points per game average is 5th best in the conference, while his assist average leads the league and his steals average is ranked 6th.
FGCU has three different players averaging 13 or more points per game (Comer: 14.5, Bernard Thompson: 14.3 and Fieler: 13.6). Comer ranks 5th in the league in that category, Thompson 7th and Fieler 9th, making FGCU the only school in the league with three players in the top 10.
SCOUTING NORTHERN KENTUCKY
• After losing seven of its first eight games, NKU won three home games in a row over a span of seven days from Dec. 15-21 before losing at North Carolina on Dec. 27.
• Jordan Jackson has appeared in 10 games with eight starts, and leads the Norse in scoring at 13.9 per game.
• All of Jackson’s points have two-point buckets or free throws; he has attempted 91 free throws on his own (36 percent of NKU’s team total of 253), but has made just 53 of those for a 58.2-percent clip from the charity stripe.
• Jackson, a junior, also leads NKU in rebounds per game (4.5), assists (31) and steals (17).
• In addition to their game against UNC on Friday, the Norse opened the year with a one-point loss at Purdue, 77-76, before falling at Kentucky, 93-63, two days later.
• NKU opponents average 19.4 points per game just from the free-throw line alone.
• The Norse rank second in the A-Sun in taking care of the ball, committing just 11.9 turnovers per game.
1A: Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) leads the A-Sun in 3-point percentage at 44.6. The junior has connected on 25-56 attempts and is 8th on the program’s all-time 3-pointers made list with 109 for his career. The 6-9 forward is well on his way to already eclipsing his 2012-13 total of 28 made 3’s.
1B: Nate Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS/Georgia Tech) is tied for the A-Sun lead in blocks per game at 1.9. The redshirt junior has six games of multiple blocks and three contests of four rejections or more, including a program-record eight versus Eckerd.
3: Fieler is coming off his third double-double of the season with a team-best 21 points and game-high 10 rebounds against Radford. It was the lone senior’s fifth career double-double, and third in the past five games.
5: FGCU had a season-high five dunks versus Radford as 24 of its 63 points came in the paint.
20: The Eagles made a season-high 20 free throws to aid in their 77-68 win over Florida A&M. Comer led the way by knocking down all 10 of his career-best attempts.
29: Florida A&M’s and Radford’s rebound total against FGCU, tied for the fewest caroms allowed by the Eagles this year. In their six wins, FGCU is grabbing 38.3 rebounds per game and out-boarding its opposition by a +7.2 margin. However, in its seven losses, FGCU corals just 31.3 rebounds and is being out-rebounded by a -4.4 disparity.
58: The percentage FGCU shot (57.8) on 26-45 attempts from the field versus Florida A&M, a season high.
200: FGCU tallied its 200th all-time win against Florida A&M; the Eagles own a 200-156 record since the start of the program in 2002-03.
RECAPPING THE LAS VEGAS CLASSIC
FGCU has not played since last Monday against Radford in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, a game which the Eagles’ dropped by one point, 64-63, on a game-winning 3-pointer by the Virginia-based school with 17 seconds remaining.
The setback was the second of the nine-day, four-game road trip which came by less than two points as the Eagles fell to USF in double overtime, 68-66, to commence the classic on Dec. 17. That game finished on a disputed call which was talked about at length nationally as Fieler received a full-court inbounds from Jamail Jones with .3 of a second left, and got his shot off before the backboard light came on and prior to the clock showing 0.00. However, due to an NCAA rule which states that with .3 or less on the clock, a player cannot catch and shoot – which is what the officials ruled Fieler did.
Following the loss to the Bulls, FGCU came up short at Mississippi State, 66-53, two days later before heading to Las Vegas to face Florida A&M and Radford. The Eagles erased an 11-point deficit with 13 minutes to play against the Rattlers to claim a 77-68 win on Dec. 22.
PLAYER QUICK HITTERS
Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) scored a season high and tied his career best with 11 points against Florida A&M on 4-7 shooting. The sophomore, who is just four points off his entire point total from last year already, continues to lead FGCU in +/-.
Marcus Blake (Miami, Fla./American Heritage HS) earned his first career start in Las Vegas against Florida A&M.
Cvjeticanin knocked down four 3-pointers against Florida A&M, representing his fourth game this year and ninth in his career with at least four triples.
Logan Hovey (Orlando, Fla./Paul J. Hagerty HS) continues to rehab following surgery in mid-November to help with a leg injury which has kept the talented, multi-faceted combo wing off the court since before the preseason. The 6-7 true freshman participated in team warmups at both of the Las Vegas games for the first time all year, but is still not medically cleared to play.
RECORD PERFORMANCES: Against USF, Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) and Hicks each set Division-I program records as Thompson tallied 32 points on a D-I program-tying 13 made field goals, while Hicks grabbed a record 19 rebounds – all on the defensive end.
FGCU remains at home to take on NKU’s travel partner, Lipscomb, on New Year’s Day at 5 p.m. The Bisons, who were picked 8th in the A-Sun Preseason Poll, were the only A-Sun team to defeat the Eagles twice last year. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the men’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_MBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUMBB.
2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.