@FGCU_MBB, Mercer Set For #ASunMBB 1st-Place Clash In Macon Thursday Night
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||MER|
|FG Percentage||.350 (21-60)||.414 (24-58)|
|3P FG Percentage||.059 (1-17)||.320 (8-25)|
|FT Percentage||.750 (12-16)||.600 (12-20)|
GRAF - 2
FGCU (12-8, 6-1 A-Sun)
MACON, Ga. – The Atlantic Sun Conference’s top-two teams are set to clash Thursday night as the FGCU men’s basketball team (12-8, 6-1 A-Sun) heads to the venue in which it claimed last year’s league title to take on fellow first-place foe Mercer (15-5, 6-1 A-Sun) in the most highly-anticipated A-Sun matchup of the season at Hawkins Arena.
SETTING THE STAGE
Mercer is 40-4 at home since the start of the 2011-12 season, including a 35-2 mark in regular-season play in that same stretch. The two other losses have both come at the hands of FGCU as the Eagles defeated the Bears in the A-Sun semifinals in 2012 and claimed the A-Sun title with an 88-75 triumph in the championship final last year.
The two teams have emerged as premier clubs in the A-Sun the past few years. Dating back to the start of last season, Mercer has won 20 conference games, FGCU has claimed 19 and no other league member has more than 14. Mercer owns a 10-4 edge in the all-time series, but the two sides are 3-3 against each other in the last two years. FGCU has never won a regular-season game at Mercer (0-6), and with the Bears leaving the A-Sun in July to join the Southern Conference, Thursday could be the Green and Blue’s final opportunity.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be broadcast on ASun.TV, and fans can access the production by following the link at the top of this release. Chandler Lee will handle the play-by-play duties with Todd Wilson 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.
TWEETABLES (5 Things To Know In 140 Characters Or Less)
• Chase Fieler (1,082) needs five points to move into sole possession of fourth place on FGCU’s all-time scoring list.
• FGCU posted season highs in points (90), dunks (7), free throws made (24) and fastbreak (12) and bench points (32) against ETSU Saturday.
• ETSU shot just 29.4 percent (20-68), the lowest percentage for a Division-I FGCU opponent this year.
• FGCU finished with a 38-22 edge in the paint vs. ETSU and is now 20-0 in its last 20 games when finishing with a +15 advantage in the paint.
• The Eagles rank 9th in the A-Sun in free-throw percentage for the year (66.4), but are 3rd in A-Sun games (71.9).
Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) became FGCU’s all-time leading rebounder on Saturday against ETSU. The senior needed three boards to surpass the previous record of 589 held by Sherwood Brown, and finished with 10 against the Buccaneers. Fieler, who now has 597 career rebounds, needs only three more to become FGCU’s first player with 1,000 points and 600 rebounds.
Prior to this year, FGCU had never had a player make at least five shots in a game without a miss in program history. However, Eric McKnight – who has only played in the last eight games – has done that on two separate occasions already. Against Stetson on Jan. 5 he went 7-7 from the field, and then opposite ETSU on Saturday he went 5-5. McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State) was suspended for the first 12 games of the year for a violation of team rules.
Both FGCU and Mercer are off to their best-ever A-Sun starts. For the Eagles, 6-1 is two games better than their previous first seven league games of any season. FGCU has started 4-3 in A-Sun play four different times, including each of the past two years, since joining the conference in 2007-08.
• The Bears, who have won 10 of their last 11 games, have 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes a game, and two more averaging 9.8 per outing.
• Mercer leads the nation in total assists with 344, ranks 7th in total rebounds (782), 17th in 3-pointers made (159), 19th in field-goal percentage (48.7) and 21st in scoring offense (81.8) and scoring margin (14.2).
• Mercer – which has started the same five seniors all year – is the 11th-most experienced team in the country; the metric takes into account the average class year per minutes played.
• Mercer has three players averaging double-digit points this year: Langston Hall (14.6), Daniel Coursey (10.9) and Ike Nwamu (10.3).
• The Bears – who have won eight games this year by 20 or more points – are 4-0 in overtime games, playing two single-OT contests, one double-OT game and a triple-OT outing.
• Senior center Coursey enters Thursday’s game just two blocks shy of breaking Wesley Duke’s program career block record (173).
• Hall is 15th nationally in total assists (112), and Coursey is ranked 54th in the country in total blocks (39).
• Mercer went 24-12 last year before losing at BYU in the Second Round of the NIT, and in 2011-12 were 27-11 as it claimed the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Championship.
1 AND 2
Mercer and FGCU rank 1 and 2 in six different A-Sun statistical categories, while the Bears lead the conference in 15 different categories. FGCU leads the conference in scoring defense, surrendering only 65.8 points per game. Mercer (67.6) and FGCU are the only two teams in the league which allow fewer than 70 points per outing.
HALL vs. COMER
Thursday night features a matchup of premier guards in the A-Sun when FGCU’s Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) goes up against Mercer’s Langston Hall. Both are in the top-10 all-time in the league’s career assists as Hall has 544 (4th) and Comer 524 (9th). However, while Hall is a senior, Comer still has another year of eligibility and is already within 100 assists of the all-time record (Napoleon Byrdsong, 613).
RISING IN THE A-SUN
FGCU has won 52 percent (27 of 52) of its A-Sun games since the start of the 2011-12 season. The Eagles went 8-10 in 2011-12, 13-5 in 2012-13 and are 6-1 in 2013-14.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
10.6: The difference in FGCU’s rebound margin in its 12 wins (+5.9) and eight losses (-4.7).
6: FGCU has had six straight games of double-figure second-chance points, tied for the most since it had a six-game stretch last year and most since a nine-game run during the 2010-11 campaign.
40: The percentage of Dajuan Graf’s 3-pointers for the year which came on Saturday night against ETSU; Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) had only three 3-pointers coming into the contest but knocked down two versus the Buccaneers.
18: The amount of points FGCU scored off only 10 ETSU turnovers on Saturday.
PLAYER QUICK HITS:
Graf: Through the first seven games of A-Sun play he leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.8), passing out 24 assists against just five assists.
Fieler: Six of his nine career double-figure rebounding performances have come this year, including four in the last eight games.
Nate Hicks (Panama City Beach, Fla./J.R. Arnold HS/Georgia Tech): Just missed his second double-double of the season, and first against a D-I opponent, with 10 points and eight rebounds against ETSU.
Comer: Expected to continue wearing a mask after breaking his nose in the closing seconds against USC Upstate last Thursday on an inadvertent elbow.
FGCU remains in Georgia to take on Kennesaw State (4-16, 1-6 A-Sun) Saturday. Tipoff is set for high Noon, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and available on the WatchESPN platform.
All 2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.
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