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No. 1 @FGCU_MBB, No. 2 Mercer Set For Final Clash With March Madness Trip At Stake
|Stats at a Glance||MER||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.367 (22-60)||.414 (24-58)|
|3P FG Percentage||.200 (4-20)||.125 (2-16)|
|FT Percentage||.833 (20-24)||.556 (10-18)|
WHITE - 15
COMER - 14
COURSEY - 7
TEAM - 7
HALL - 3
COMER - 1
McKNIGHT - 2
No. 2 Mercer (25-8, 14-4 A-Sun)
DUNK CITY, Fla. – For the third time this season and ninth time in the past three years, No. 1 seed FGCU (22-11) and No. 2 seed Mercer (25-8) will battle, this time on Sunday afternoon at 2 in front of a sold-out Alico Arena crowd and national TV audience on ESPN2 for the right to win the Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Basketball Championship and earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
WHAT TO KNOW
• The game is completely sold out, representing FGCU’s seventh standing-room-only sellout of the year and 13th overall sellout.
• The FGCU baseball team hosts Manhattan at 10 a.m. All fans with a ticket to the basketball game will be admitted free of charge to the baseball contest.
• Fans are encouraged to wear white to create a WHITEOUT atmosphere in Alico Arena.
• A reminder to all fans that daylight saving time officially starts Sunday at 2 a.m. local time.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Jason Benetti will handle the play-by-play duties, with former first-round NBA Draft pick Cory Alexander serving as the analyst. The contest will also be available on the WatchESPN app (blackout restrictions apply), and fans can access the production free of charge by following the link at the top of this release or logging on to WatchESPN.com.
ESPN Radio 99.3 FM will also carry the game locally with Mark Miller on the call. Fans outside the area can access the broadcast online by clicking the link at the top of the release or by utilizing the iRadioNow mobile app. Live in-game and behind-the-scenes updates will be available through Twitter (@FGCU_MBB) and Instagram (@FGCU_MBB), and live stats can be accessed by following the link at the top of the release.
SETTING THE STAGE
The two best teams in the Atlantic Sun Conference meet again with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. Mercer leads the all-time series with FGCU, 11-5; however, the Eagles have won four of the last six meetings, including a 2-0 mark in postseason play.
FGCU has eliminated Mercer from the A-Sun tournament each of the past two years on the Bears’ home court in Macon. Two years ago, the sixth-seeded Eagles stunned second-seeded Mercer in the semifinals, 62-58. Last season, second-seeded FGCU ran away in the second half of the title game to down the Bears again, this time by an 88-75 margin.
HOW WE GOT HERE
FGCU defeated No. 8 seed Stetson, 77-55, in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday before dispatching of fourth-seeded ETSU on Thursday, 69-65. Mercer, which also played two home games, defeated seventh-seeded Jacksonville on Tuesday, 85-64, and survived a double-overtime battle with No. 3 USC Upstate Thursday evening, 78-75.
TWEETABLES (5 Things To Know In 140 Characters Or Less)
• FGCU is the only school in the history of the A-Sun Conference to make three straight tournament final appearances in its first three years eligible.
• Bernard Thompson (1,365) is only three points shy of the surpassing the program’s all-time scoring record of 1,367 by Ryan Hopkins ’05.
• FGCU and Mercer are two of only eight schools nationally which start three different 1,000-point scorers.
• Brett Comer (601) needs just six assists to set the all-time program record (606, Bryan Crislip ’05).
• Comer, a junior, and Mercer senior Langston Hall (619) are two of four players in A-Sun history with 600 assists, and rank 3rd and 1st, respectively.
Dating back to last year, FGCU has won 21 of its past 22 home games, and boasts a 30-2 record at Alico Arena since the start of the 2012-13 campaign: (Losses: Lipscomb, Iona). Last year, 10 of FGCU’s 11 losses came away from Alico Arena, and so far this season only one of the Eagles’ losses have occurred inside the friendly confines of The Nest where they are 15-1 (loss: 20-win Iona).
In conference action, FGCU was the only team in the A-Sun to post an undefeated mark against league opponents (9-0). That mark extended to 11-0 with the triumph over ETSU in the quarterfinals Thursday evening.
FGCU IN THE A-SUN CHAMPIONSHIP
This is only FGCU’s third year eligible for the A-Sun Championship after going through a four-year Division-I reclassification period from 2007-11. In its first two seasons, FGCU advanced to the title game both years. The Green and Blue went 2-0 in 2012 as a No. 6 seed before losing to Belmont in the final and then won all three of their games as a No. 2 seed en route to the title in 2013.
FGCU’s 7-1 record (.875 winning percentage) is the best in A-Sun Championship history among current league members, and in their one loss the Eagles had a halftime lead. In the 33-year history of the A-Sun Championship, the No. 1 seed has won the title 12 times, including in 2011 and 2012.
The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds have met 14 previous times for the A-Sun Championship, including last year when the second-seeded Eagles took down top-seeded Mercer. The No. 1 seed is 8-6 all-time against the No. 2 seed. The top-two seeds met in the final every year from 2004-09, but only once (last year) since then.
• Head coach Bob Hoffman was named Coach of the Year, Langston Hall was named Player of the Year, Daniel Coursey was named Defensive Player of the Year and Jakob Gollon was named Scholar Athlete of the Year.
• Mercer is the only team in the country to have started five seniors in every game. Only two other teams (Pacific, Saint Louis) have started a lineup of five seniors.
• Hall, who averages a team-best 14.7 points and 5.7 assists per game, scored his 1,500th career point and passed out his 600th career assist last week. Hall is the only player in A-Sun history to have reached both of those marks.
• The Bears check in at No. 13 in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Mercer has been featured in the poll for 11-straight weeks and been as high as No. 9 this year.
• Mercer tied program records with 23 overall wins and 14 conference wins during the regular season.
• The Bears lead the A-Sun in 12 different statistical categories this year.
• Mercer is second in the nation in total assists (550).
FGCU and Mercer split their two regular-season meetings, with each team protecting home court. After suffering a 68-55 setback at Mercer in January, FGCU bounced back with a 14-point home win, 75-61, in February in front of a national TV audience on ESPNU. In the first meeting, the Eagles shot just 1-17 (5.9 percent) from 3-point range.
DEFENSE: FGCU and Mercer are the top two defensive teams in the Atlantic Sun, with Mercer holding opponents to an average of 66.5 points per game and FGCU 67.1. In A-Sun games only, the two also finished 1-2 in field-goal percentage defense with Mercer limiting foes to 39.8 percent from the floor and FGCU 40.5.
UP AT THE HALF: On the year FGCU is 17-0 when leading at halftime.
BELOW 40: FGCU is a perfect 13-0 on the year when holding opponents below 40 percent from the field. In their last seven postseason games – A-Sun Championship and NCAA Tournament – the Eagles have held their opponent below 40-percent shooting six times.
#1 Thompson’s 1,365 career points are the third-most among active A-Sun players. He sits in 54th place in A-Sun history.
#2 Chase Fieler’s 15-rebound performance in Thursday’s semifinal allowed him to crack the A-Sun top-30.
#3 FGCU’s 12-game home winning streak is tied for the 14th longest active streak in the nation.
#4 FGCU has become just the fourth team in A-Sun Championship history to reach the finals in three straight seasons.
#5 No. 1 seeds have reached the A-Sun Championship Final in the last three seasons, including nine of the last 10.
• Dajuan Graf recorded a career high with six steals in Tuesday’s quarterfinal against Stetson, and Thompson grabbed a career-high-tying six pilfers of his own in the semifinal versus ETSU Thursday. Both totals are just one shy of tying the all-time A-Sun tournament single-game record.
• FGCU has out-rebounded its last six opponents by an average of 11.5, including four by double figures. In those four games, FGCU has out-rebounded its foes by a +15 average. FGCU (+3.1) and Mercer (+5.2) are two of only three A-Sun schools which have a +3 rebound margin or better for the season.
• All of Mercer’s eight losses have occurred when allowing at least 70 points.
• FGCU is 18-2 on the year when out-rebounding its opponent.