GAME PREVIEW: Eagles Look to Rebound at Kennesaw State
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Florida Gulf Coast (6-8, 2-2 A-Sun)
Kennesaw State (3-12, 0-4 A-Sun)
1/4/2012 | Kennesaw, Ga. - KSU Convocation Center | Attendance: 738
Florida Gulf Coast253762
Kennesaw State272855
Stats at a GlanceFGCUKSU
FG Percentage.463 (19-41) .455 (20-44)
3P FG Percentage.429 (9-21) .381 (8-21)
FT Percentage.625 (15-24) .538 (7-13)
Offensive Rebounds98
Defensive Rebounds1716
Total Rebounds2624
Bench Points152
Statistical LeadersFGCUKSU
PointsTHOMPSON - 22
Dixon - 17
Anderson - 17
ReboundsFIELER - 5
Anderson - 7
AssistsCOMER - 8
Love - 5
StealsFIELER - 2
Cummings - 1
Love - 1
Henry - 1
BlocksVARIDEL - 1
Dixon - 1
Anderson - 1
Dawson - 1

DATE: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012
CITY: Kennesaw, Ga.
SITE: KSU Convocation Center (4,800)
TIP-OFF: 7:00 p.m. ET
SERIES: Kennesaw leads, 6-2
AT KENNESAW STATE: Kennesaw leads, 4-0
LAST MEETING: @Kennesaw State 69, FGCU 68 - Feb. 10, 2011

FGCU (5-8, 1-2) will look to get back on track Wednesday night when it wraps up its first Atlantic Sun road trip of the season at Kennesaw State. The Eagles entered the two-game swing on a two-game win streak, but their attempt at winning three in a row for the first time this season was turned away at Mercer on Monday night. FGCU will attempt to accomplish a different first on Wednesday, as it looks to pick up its first road win of the season. The Owls (3-11, 0-3) are coming off a tough 68-62 home loss to Stetson and are searching for their first A-Sun win under head coach Lewis Preston.

FGCU will look to snap a four-game losing streak against Kennesaw State, who owns a 6-2 edge in the all-time series. The Owls completed the season sweep of the Eagles for the second straight year last February when Spencer Dixon drilled a three-pointer with seven seconds left to give KSU a 69-68 win. Five of the eight meetings between the two teams have been decided by eight points or less, including a pair of one-point contests that have gone in favor of the Owls. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL averaged 16.5 points over last year's two meetings, while Kennesaw is led by Markeith Cummings' 20.5 points per game against the Eagles, including a 30-point outburst as a freshman in 2009-10.

Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON earned a pair of weekly awards in the past two days. He was named the College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Week, while the league office named him the Newcomer of the Week on Tuesday. Thompson leads A-Sun freshmen in scoring (11.8), while averaging 4.6 rebounds , 2.1 assists and ranking second in the A-Sun in steals (1.9).

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. Prior to Monday's home game vs. Stetson, Kennesaw played eight straight games away from home. The Owls have dropped nine of their last 10 entering Wednesday night's tilt, but have played a challenging schedule that included Wisconsin, Auburn, Missouri, Missouri State, St. Mary's and Ohio. The Owls are led by the A-Sun's top scoring tandem (30.6) and a pair of 1,000-point scorers in junior Markeith Cummings and senior Spencer Dixon. Selected as the A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year, Cummings is on track to defend his league scoring crown this season, averaging a conference-best 17.2 points. Cummings owns a league-high five 20-point games and is the A-Sun's active leading scorer (1,364). Dixon broke the 1,000-point barrier earlier this season and is in the top 10 in the A-Sun in scoring (13.4) and assists (3.9)

LAST GAME: Hot Start Helps Mercer Cruise Past FGCU
MACON, Ga. - Senior Justin Cecil scored 21 first half points and Mercer owned a 20-point lead at the break, as the Bears cruised to a 76-54 Atlantic Sun win over FGCU on Monday night at the University Center. • Cecil finished with a game-high 24 points to help Mercer (10-6) grab its league-leading 10th win of the season while improving to 2-1 in the A-Sun. The loss snaps a two-game win streak for the Eagles (5-8), who are now 1-2 in league play. • The Green and Blue were led by 13 points each from sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL and freshman BERNARD THOMPSON. Varidel, who came into the game second nationally in three-point percentage, knocked down 2-of-3 beyond the arc and had three steals. Before recording his team-leading 10th double figure game of the year, Thompson was named the A-Sun Player of the Week by College Sports Madness. • Mercer lived up to its top defensive ranking in the A-Sun, holding FGCU to its third-lowest point total of the season after it average 83.5 points the previous two contests. The Eagles shot 42 percent (20-48) from the floor and committed 20 turnovers that led to 20 Mercer points. • Cecil’s career-high 24 points came on 9-of-14 from the floor over 25 minutes.

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.

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 27 of his last 46 three-point attempts (59 percent) to rank second in the nation and tops in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.533). He is also third in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.5). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game seven times this season, including five of the last eight. He has also reached double-digits six times, including a team-best two 20-point outings. Over the last three games, Varidel has led the team in scoring three straight games, averaging 16.3 points.

FGCU leads the A-Sun at 40 percent clip from three-point range for the season, a mark that ranks 19th in the nation. The Eagles have made at least eight threes in six straight games and are fourth in the A-Sun at 7.1 per game clip. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL leads the conference individually, shooting a scorching 53 percent (32-60) from beyond the arc, while junior SHERWOOD BROWN and freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN are shooting 40 percent or higher with double figure makes. Defensively, FGCU is limiting opponents to 33 percent from long range.

Through 13 games, FGCU averages 28.1 points per game off the bench, a figure that results in a +7.2 margin per game. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 11 games, including the team's leading scorer on eight occasions, while supplying 25+ points nine 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 efforts off the bench.

FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 47 percent of the scoring, 35 percent of the rebounds and 65 percent of the assists. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 11.8 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Point guard BRETT COMER is second in the A-Sun with 5.2 helpers, a mark that ranks fourth among freshmen nationally and 40th overall. Comer is fourth on the team in scoring (8.3) followed by Dante Holmes' 8.0 points. Thompson's 11.8 points are tops among all freshmen in the A-Sun and are joined by 4.6 rebounds per game. Thompson has scored in double figures a team-high 10 times, while Comer has done so in five games and both in the same game on five occasions. FILIP CVJETICANIN has reached double figures twice. At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 11 of 13 games.

A season-best five players reached double figures in FGCU's two wins over Toledo and Maine, while the Eagles have had 16 double-digit scorers over the last four games. A total of eight players have reached the double-digit plateau this season, while junior SHERWOOD BROWN (11.8), freshman BERNARD THOMPSON (11.8) and sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL (11.2) all rank in the top 20 in the A-Sun in scoring. FGCU is one of four teams to have three players in the top 20 in scoring. Out of the eight different players who have scored double figures, five have led the team in scoring at least once, including three off the bench. FGCU is 3-2 when four or more players reach double figures in the same game and have done so in three of the last four contests.

First-year head coach ANDY ENFIELD has used seven different lineups through 13 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. No one has started every game, while three freshmen were in the starting five each of the last five games. At least four underclassmen have started in all but two games.

Ranking among the leaders in the Atlantic Sun Conference in three 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 fourth among all freshmen nationally in assists per game (5.2). He has reached double figures in five games, resulting in 8.3 points per game. Comer has led the team in assists in all but one game and has passed out seven or more helpers four times.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double figures in five of the last seven games, averaging 8.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and nearly two blocks over that span. Fieler has reached double-digits six times this season compared to five through all of last year, and is coming off his first career double-double. Against Maine, Fieler hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 11 points and a career-best five assists. Fieler leads the team in both rebounds (5.5) and blocks (1.3), figures that rank 15th and sixth in the A-Sun, respectively. The Parkersburg, W. Va. product also leads the team with 23 offensive rebounds.

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 6.2 points and 4.2 points per game. The Fort Myers product produced his first career double-double against Toledo, going for career-bests of 11 points and 14 rebounds over 36 minutes. Murray is shooting 58 percent (32-55) from the floor over 21 minutes per game. Murray has nearly hit the totals he put up through two full seasons in just 11 games this year.

Seven of FGCU's eight losses on the season have been by 10 points or less , including six by six points or less. The Eagles' seven road opponents so far this season currently all have a winning record and a combined mark of 61-31. A trio of one-point defeats in the Fort Worth/Dallas area against TCU (73-72) and SMU (65-64), and at Nebraska (51-50) headlines the heartbreaking losses.

Highlighted by his first career double-double at Miami and a 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 six times in 10 contests, including three straight games played, leading the team in scoring (11.8) and ranking second in rebounding (5.0) - figures that rank ninth and 19th 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. Brown's strong end to last season was capped by a career-high 26 points at USC Upstate that included seven three-pointers.

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 12.2 points per game average off the pine is 4.5 points better than his average in the starting five. Varidel poured in 20 points at SMU and against Maine, 17 at Loyola Maryland and 16 against Toledo to lead the team in scoring all four times off the bench.

Aside from being the league's top scoring freshman (11.8), BERNARD THOMPSON has used is long 6-foot-3 frame to his benefit on the defensive end. Thompson has a steal in 11 straight games, ranking second in the A-Sun at 1.9 thefts per game. During the current 11-game streak, Thompson has 10 multi-steal performances. Thompson is on pace for 58 steals, a mark that would finish top five in single-season history. As a team, FGCU equaled a season-high for the third time with 11 steals against Maine and are averaging 8.0 per game.

Highlighted by 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. SHERWOOD BROWN (at Miami), BRETT COMER (Ave Maria) and BERNARD THOMPSON (at Loyola) have all scored 15 points in one second half.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER finished one block shy of equaling a program single-game record against USC Upstate (Dec. 19), turning away five shots. Fieler ranks sixth in the A-Sun with 17 blocks, helping the Eagles produce 4.5 blocks per game, a figure that is second in the league.

After averaging 10.5 points, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals over two games, freshman point guard BRETT COMER was named the Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Comer's week was highlighted by his first career double of 15 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals during a win over Prairie View A&M.