Jacksonville (19-8, 13-5) at FGCU (8-19, 5-12)
DATE: Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 7:30 p.m. ET
LIVE AUDIO: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
TALENT: Tom James (Play-by-Play)
J. Webb Horton (Color Analyst)
LIVE STATS: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
LIVE VIDEO: A-Sun.TV
SERIES: Jacksonville leads, 7-0
LAST MEETING: Jacksonville 71, FGCU 56 - Dec. 4, 2010
LAST GAME: FGCU 64, Stetson 60 - Feb. 21
LAST FIVE GAMES: 2-3
AT A GLANCE
Riding the programs first-ever two-game win streak in the month of February since joining Division I in 2007, FGCU welcomes third place Jacksonville to Alico Arena on Thursday evening. The Eagles are coming off a weekend in which they completed season sweeps of Campbell and in-state rival Stetson. The back-to-back wins pushed FGCU's home win streak to three games. Jacksonville has won eight out of its last 10 A-Sun contests and will be the No. 3 seed in the postseason tournament. A win would give the Eagles their second-ever three-game win streak in A-Sun action.
Jacksonville has dominated the all-time series, taking all seven meeting since FGCU joined the A-Sun in 2007-08. The Dolphins have won the seven meetings by an average of 14.5 points per game. Jacksonville was victorious against the Eagle earlier this season way back on Dec. 4, 71-56. With an 18-point, 14-rebound night in the last meeting, sophomore ANTHONY BANKS upped his averages to 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds over three games against the Dolphins.
FGCU's current three-game home win streak has been fueled by resurgence on the defensive end. Over the last three games at Alico Arena, the Eagles have held two opponents to under 40 points and are giving up a stingy 45.7 points. Looking further, FGCU his limited those teams to 31 percent (50-161) shooting from the field, including 13-of-57 from three, while holding a +8.0 edge on the glass.
SCOUTING THE DOLPHINS
Winners of eight of its last 10, Jacksonville has already clinched the No. 3 seed in the A-Sun Tournament. The Dolphins, who won at Florida and Auburn earlier in the year, are just win away from putting together their second straight 20-win season under head coach Cliff Warren. Jacksonville is 5-3 on the road this season in A-Sun play. Senior Ayron Hardy, a two-time A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year, leads the team in nearly every statistical category, highlighted by points (12.7), rebounds (5.9), offensive rebounds (56), field goal percentage (.561) and steals (54). Hardy is JU's only double figure scorer, as five other players average over 7.3 points per game. The Dolphins are the third-best defensive team in the A-Sun, giving 65.6 points per contest.
HEAD COACHING MATCHUP
FGCU HEAD COACH Dave Balza
@ FGCU: 151-119 (9th Season)
Overall: 186-168 (12th Season)
Atlantic Sun: 23-50 (4th Season)
Vs. Jacksonville: 0-7
JACKSONVILLE HEAD COACH Cliff Warren
@ Jacksonville: 119-190 (11th Season)
Vs. FGCU: 7-0
The second half of the season has been a youth movement for the Eagles, as underclassmen have led the team in scoring the last 14 games and 16 of out the last 17. Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has been the catalyst, leading the team in scoring eight times over the 17. Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has reached double figures in 20 of the last 22 games and has led the team in scoring six times over the span of 16 games. Sophomore SHERWOOD BROWN is coming off a career-high 18-point night against Stetson.
Coming off a career-high 18-point performance against Stetson, sophomore SHERWOOD BROWN is having a strong close to his second season. Brown has reached double figures in two of the last four games and last year produced three of his double-digit outings in the last month. Brown also set a career-high for rebounds with nine against Campbell two games ago, averaging 11.3 points and 6.3 boards over the last four contests.
Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL sits third in the A-Sun in three-pointers per game at a 2.56 per game clip (top 50 nationally). Out of Varidel's 95 made field goals on season, 69 have come from beyond the arc. Varidel has made three or more trifectas in a game 15 times and is second among all freshmen in three-pointers made. Validating his shooting prowess, Varidel ranks ninth in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 37.3.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Junior KEVIN CANTINOL made his way back into the starting lineup against Stetson (Feb. 21), grabbing a team-high nine rebounds to go along with eight points. Over his last night games, Cantinol is averaging 7.7 points and 6.7 rebounds. He's led the team in rebounding four times over that span.
Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has been on a strict offensive rebounding diet, collecting a staggering 98 offensive boards this season, including nine against ACC foe Miami which equaled his career-best. He's one of nine current players in the nation that is on pace to accomplish or has already grabbed 100+ offensive rebounds in each of the last two seasons. Banks is tied for the A-Sun lead in offensive rebounds per game (3.63). He has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in a game eight times this season and 17 for his career. He also ranks 10th in the A-Sun at 6.3 caroms per contest.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Junior MARLON RIVERA has taken over the reins of the point guard position and leads the A-Sun in assists per game (36th nationally) at a 5.3 clip. Rivera has led the team in assists 25 times, highlighted by six 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 the most by an A-Sun player this season. Rivera eclipsed the 100 assists mark, marking the seventh time in nine seasons a player has accomplished the feat for the Eagles.
With three games remaining, junior MARLON RIVERA is just seven assists away from becoming the first player in FGCU history to accumulate 150 rebounds and 150 in the same season. Rivera has led the team in rebounding 10 times and assists on 25 occasions.
TAKE IT TO THE BANKS
The versatility of ANTHONY BANKS is on full display again this season. Banks leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game while also leading in rebounding (6.3) and offensive rebounds (98). Banks has led the team in scoring 11 times, rebounding nine times and both in the same game on seven occasions. He's reached double figures in a team-best 24 games while accumulating four double-doubles and five 20-point outings.
FREE THROW FREEBIES
Freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has made 37 of his last 38 attempts from the free throw line, including 18 in a row. Varidel's torrid shooting has him at 84 percent (53-63) for the season, but is just short of the requirement to be ranked.
After averaging 8.3 points over the first 15 games, freshman CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has reached the double figure plateau in 11 of the last 12 games. Varidel's recent scoring surge has his season average up to 11.6 points per game, good for 18th in the A-Sun and third among league freshmen. Over the last 12 games, Varidel is averaging 15.6 points.
LICENSE TO STEAL
With a steal in 22 of 27 games, junior MARLON RIVERA has 41 steals to rank seventh in the A-Sun (1.5). Rivera has 10 multi-steal contests, highlighted by five against Jacksonville.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Just 56 games into his career, sophomore ANTHONY BANKS is FGCU's all-time leader in offensive rebounds with 198. 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. At Stetson, he surpassed 300 career rebounds and currently sits in a tie for fifth place all-time (360).
ON THE OFFENSIVE
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 lead the A-Sun in offensive rebounds per game (13.2). FGCU has grabbed double figure offensive boards in 51 of its last 58 games, including 24 this season. Banks is a year removed from grabbing 100 offensive caroms and has 198 for his career compared to 162 defensive rebounds. Banks and just eight other players in the nation are on pace or have already accomplished back-to-back seasons with 100 offensive rebounds.
The Eagles are 5-1 this season when four players reach double figures. It marked the fifth time this season that four FGCU players have reached double-digits in the same during the Blue and Green's 70-38 win over USC Upstate. The 32-point victory was the largest in the program's Division I history. Redshirt sophomore ANTHONY BANKS has reached double figures in all six of the games.