Comer, McKnight Help #DunkCity Soar Past JU In Record Fashion, Back Into First Place
|Stats at a Glance||JU||FGCU|
|FG Percentage||.370 (27-73)||.656 (40-61)|
|3P FG Percentage||.217 (5-23)||.500 (6-12)|
|FT Percentage||.571 (12-21)||.737 (14-19)|
HAYWOOD - 4
MCDOUGALD - 4
SLAWSON - 2
HOLDER - 1
SLAWSON - 1
MURRAY - 1
FIELER - 1
BLAKE - 1
DUNK CITY, Fla. – With its second-leading scorer on the bench, the FGCU men’s basketball team (15-9, 9-2 Atlantic Sun Conference) closed the first half on a 28-9 run – and put its patented Dunk City show on display in the process – to storm past visiting Jacksonville University (9-14, 5-7 A-Sun) on Thursday night, 100-71, to move back into a first-place tie in the league standings.
Playing without lone senior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) for 16 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, redshirt junior Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy) stepped up and delivered a career-best performance with a perfect 11-11 shooting for 22 points – 18 of which came in the first half. In the second half, junior Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) took over and set a career high with 30 points – 20 of which came in the final stanza – while issuing eight assists.
FGCU’s 100 points are the most ever scored by the program in a regulation A-Sun game and third-most ever scored in any game in the Division-I era (2007-08). The Eagles set a D-I record by shooting 65.6 percent (40-61) from the field, not far from the all-time record of 67.7 percent in 2003.
Individually, McKnight set a program record by going 11-11 from the floor, the best shooting performance by any A-Sun player since at least the 2005-06 season. The Iowa State transfer provided a huge spark early in the contest as he broke his previous career high of 15 points with still six minutes remaining in the first half.
Meanwhile, Comer becomes FGCU’s third different player this year with a 30-point game as Fieler tallied 30 in the home opener and Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) netted 32 at USF in December. The guard also moved into 5th place on the A-Sun all-time career assist list with 545 as he issued a game-high eight helpers, the 19th time this year and 84th time in his career he’s led the Eagles in assists.
FGCU put on a show with several dunks as five different high flyers finished with slams and the Eagles threw down a season-high eight dunks, many started – as usual – with Comer at the controls. The Green and Blue used those dunks to fuel a season-best 58 points in the paint as FGCU finished with a +28 edge in the paint, moving its record to 22-0 in the last 22 games when finishing at least +15 in the key.
“I thought to begin with we got off to a pretty good start. I give a lot of credit to the big fella', Eric, as his effort level on both ends of the floor was terrific,” head coach Joe Dooley said. “He really set the tone for us. We weren't playing particularly well early on and he did a good job keeping us in the game. His energy level was terrific.”
The opening Dooley referred to was a 22-21 lead Jacksonville had after a 10-minute, up-tempo start by both clubs. The Dolphins began the contest 10-18 (55.6 percent) from the floor to take that advantage before the Eagles locked in at both ends of the floor. FGCU went on a 12-0 run – capped by one of several Comer to McKnight alley-oops – to take a 33-22 edge at the 6:27 mark as JU head coach Cliff Warren called for time.
After the timeout, the Eagles extended the run with four more points to create a 37-22 advantage before the Dolphins got a tip-in to briefly disturb the 16-0 Green and Blue run. Unfazed, FGCU responded with a Comer 3-pointer and then a massive alley-oop from Comer to Thompson to open up an 18-point lead, 42-24, at the 4-minute mark as Warren took another timeout.
The Eagles took that same 18-point edge into the halftime locker room, 49-31, before Comer opened the second-half scoring with back-to-back 3s to extend to a 24-point edge, 55-31, in the first minute and put the game out of reach. From there, the Eagles led by as many as 29 and never less than 18 the rest of the night as the 4,416 spectators in attendance erupted when Marcus Blake (Miami, Fla./American Heritage HS) netted the 100th point with a lay-in.
After that fast 22-21 start, FGCU limited JU to just 17-55 (30.9 percent) from the floor the rest of the game. Javon Dawson led the Dolphins with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while RJ Slawson netted 12 and Keith McDougald recorded 11 for JU.
Thompson finished with 15 points on an efficient 6-8 from the floor, while Jamail Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy/Marquette) tallied eight points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Nate Hicks (Panama City Beach, J.R. Arnold HS/Georgia Tech) also found his way into double figures with 10 points and six rebounds off the bench in 24 minutes. Comer set a career high with four 3-pointers (4-4), and as a team FGCU shot 50-percent (6-12) from beyond the arc.
The win avenged one of FGCU’s two A-Sun losses as the Dolphins clipped the Eagles last month, 76-69. The victory also moves FGCU even with Mercer at the top of the league ledger. The Bears play Kennesaw State on Friday in their only game of the week and visit Alico Arena on Friday, Feb. 21, for a 6 p.m. start on ESPNU.
FGCU returns to action on Saturday against UNF (13-12, 7-5 A-Sun), which nearly defeated the Eagles earlier this year, 79-75. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on FGCU’s Alumni Weekend, and another capacity crowd is expected. The game will be shown on ESPN3 and can be heard on ESPN Radio 99.3 FM.
GAME NOTES: Junior Filip Cvjeticanin served the second of his three-game suspension for a violation of team rules … Fieler finished with five points, four rebounds and four assists in only 19 minutes of action … FGCU had 19 assists against 14 turnovers … Dajuan Graf tallied six points and issued three assists, while Blake finished with four points and two rebounds … every FGCU player who dressed played multiple minutes.
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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