Eagles Take Two-Game Win Streak To Belmont
Thursday, January 27, 2011

FGCU (5-13, 2-7) at Belmont (18-4, 10-1)
Friday, Jan. 28, 2011
CITY: Nashville, Tenn.
SITE: Curb Event Center (5,000)
TIP-OFF: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS)
TALENT: Matt Stewart (Play-by-Play)
Sonny Smith (Color Analyst)
CHANNEL: Comcast (Ch. 70), Web (ESPN3.com)
SERIES: Belmont leads, 4-2
LAST MEETING: Belmont 83, FGCU 51 - Jan. 3, 2011
LAST GAME: FGCU 111, Stetson 103 - Jan. 25

After coming away with a thrilling 111-103 triple-overtime win at Stetson in its last outing, FGCU will look for its third Atlantic Sun road win in a row when it heads to Nashville, Tenn. to face conference leader Belmont for the second time this season. The Eagles' current two-game A-Sun road win streak is the second of its kind in program history. A win would give FGCU its first-ever three-game road win streak since joining Division I in 2007-08.

Several program records fell during FGCU's 111-103 triple-overtime win at Stetson on Tuesday evening - the longest game in program history. The 111 points scored were a Division I record for the Blue and Green and the third-best total in the nine-year history as they took a record 60 free throws (41-60). The two teams combined 214 points were the most in a single game FGCU has participated in. A full breakdown of records and stats from the game are available on page 7.

Belmont used a big second half (55-26) in the first meeting between the two teams earlier this month to come away with a 83-51 win at Alico Arena. Belmont holds a 4-2 lead in the all-time series, but the Eagles swept the season series from Bruins last year, joining Lipscomb as the only two teams to sweep Belmont in 2009-10. During their two wins over Belmont last season, the Eagles averaged 45.5 points in the second half.

• Most points in a game by an A-Sun team (against a DI team) since ETSU defeated Mercer 112-89 on 2/27/07.
• Most points in a game by an A-Sun team vs. any team since Lipscomb defeated Oakland City 121-54 on 11/15/2008.
• First 3 OT game in the A-Sun since Jacksonville defeated Stetson, 98-94, on Jan. 3, 2008.
• The 214 combined points is the most in an A-Sun game since at least 1996-97 …the previous high over that span was 211 (107-104 FAU vs. JU on Dec. 4, 2005 in 2 OT.
• 10th game in the NCAA this season to go at least 3 OT. Three have gone 4 OT and seven have gone 3 OT.
• FGCU shot a program record 60 free throws.
• FGCU's 111 points were a program Division I record and the third-most in the nine year history.

Coming off its first loss since Dec. 23, Belmont sits a full-game up on ETSU in the A-Sun standings with a 10-1 record and 18-4 overall mark. The Bruins received a vote in this week’s ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll and are currently No. 13 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. Led by head coach Rick Byrd, who earned his 500th at Belmont earlier in the month, the Bruins suffered their first A-Sun loss on Tuesday against cross town rival Lipscomb, 73-64. Armed with lots of depth and a balanced attack, Belmont leads the A-Sun in scoring (81.2), while ranking second in scoring defense (63.9). In all, the Bruins lead the conference in 10 difference categories, highlighted by offensive categories such as three-pointers per game (9.45), free throw percentage (.723) and assists per game (16.5). Sophomore guard Ian Clark, the reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year, leads the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game and had 17 in the first meeting between the two teams. Junior big man Mick Hedgepeth, also a preseason All-Conference choice, averages 10.6 points and a team-best 5.5 boards.

Dave Balza
@ FGCU: 148-113 (9th Season)
Overall: 183-162 (12th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 20-45 (4th Season)
Vs. Belmont: 2-4

Rick Byrd
@ Belmont: 506-277 (25th Season)
Overall: 598-332 (30th Season)
Vs. FGCU: 4-2

Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has been on a strict offensive rebounding diet, collecting a staggering 69 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 (3.8) by a full board per contest. He has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in a game seven times this season and 16 for his career. He ranks 10th in the A-Sun at 6.5 caroms per contest.

Junior MARLON RIVERA has taken over the reins of the point guard position and leads the A-Sun in assists per game (27th nationally) at a 5.6 clip. Rivera has led the team in assists 16 times, highlighted by five 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. In his last game, Rivera eclipsed the 100 assists mark, marking the seventh time in nine seasons a player has accomplished the feat.

With 24 threes in his last six games, freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is climbing up the A-Sun ranks in three-pointers per game and sits third at a 2.5 per game clip. Out of Varidel's 56 made field goals on season, 45 have come from beyond the arc. Varidel has made three or more trifectas in a game nine times, including six straight games. Validating his shooting prowess, Varidel ranks fifth in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 38.8.

The versatility of ANTHONY BANKS is on full display again this season. Banks leads the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game while also leading in rebounding (6.5) and offensive rebounds (69). Banks has led the team in scoring eight times, rebounding eight times and both in the same game on six occasions. He's reached double figures in a team-best 16 games while accumulating four double-doubles and four 20-point outings.

No FGCU player has been hotter than freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL over the last six games. Coming off a 29-point performance at Stetson, Varidel is averaging 17.0 points per game over the last six contests on the strength of 24 three-pointers. The Versoix, Switzerland product has reached double figures in all six games, leading the team four times. Even more impressive, Varidel is averaging 19.5 points since being inserted back into the starting lineup four games ago.

Just 47 games into his career, sophomore ANTHONY BANKS is FGCU's all-time leader in offensive rebounds with 169. Banks has twice tied the record for most offensive rebounds in a game with nine and owns the single-season record with 100 in 2009-10 as a freshman. Last game at Stetson, he surpassed 300 career rebounds and moved into ninth place all-time (308).

Not equipped with a lot of size in the paint, FGCU makes up for it by staying active on the offensive glass. Led by ANTHONY BANKS, the Eagles are second in the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (13.2). FGCU has grabbed double figure offensive boards in 42 of its last 48 games, including 15 this season. Banks is a year removed from grabbing 100 offensive caroms and has 169 for his career compared to 139 defensive rebounds. The Eagles' relentlessness on the offensive glass has led to six straight games with double figure second chance points and an average of 12.2 per game.

For the second straight game at Stetson, four players finished in double figures for the Eagles helping them win their second straight. It marked the fourth time this season that four FGCU players have reached double-digits in the same game, moving the Blue and Green to 3-1 when the feat happens. Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS is averaging 21 points in those games.

With his strong play on both ends of the court, junior MARLON RIVERA is one of two players in the A-Sun in the top 15 in rebounds, top 5 in assists and top 5 in steals. The FGCU floor general's 6.0 rebounds per game are 15th in the A-Sun, while he's fourth in steals per game (1.9). Rivera also averages 7.1 points and has reached double figures six times. Against Lipscomb, he became the first player this season to lead the team in points (14), rebounds (7) and assists (6) in the same game.

Now 18 games into their first season in the Blue and Green, freshmen CHASE FIELER and CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL have combined to score over 30 points in each of the last two games. Varidel notched 16 points, while Fieler came off the bench for season-highs of 14 points and seven rebounds in a win at Campbell. Last game at Stetson, Varidel went off for 29 points, while Fieler chipped in with nine points.

Junior TIM SNYDER is starting to return to his old self after missing five games with a broken orbital bone. Snyder returned on Jan. 3 against Belmont, but has posted averages of 8.0 points and 6.8 rebounds the last four games. Snyder's recent surge has him fourth on the team in scoring (7.0) and rebounding (4.5).