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GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Looks to Continue Winning Ways at Belmont
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||BEL|
|FG Percentage||.375 (18-48)||.547 (35-64)|
|3P FG Percentage||.263 (5-19)||.452 (14-31)|
|FT Percentage||.800 (12-15)||.786 (11-14)|
CLARK - 13
CANTINOL - 2
JENKINS - 1
HEDGEPETH - 1
FGCU (8-9, 4-3 A-SUN) at Belmont (12-6, 5-1 A-SUN)
DATE: Monday, Jan. 16, 2012
CITY: Nashville, Tenn.
SITE: Curb Event Center (5,000)
TIP-OFF: 8:00 p.m. ET
LIVE VIDEO: www.ASUN.TV
LIVE AUDIO: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
LIVE STATS: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
CURRENT STREAK: W2
LAST 5 GAMES: 3-2
LAST 10 GAMES: 6-4
ON THE ROAD: 2-7
SERIES: Belmont leads, 5-2
AT CURB EVENT CENTER: Belmont leads, 3-1
LAST MEETING: @Belmont 89, FGCU 56 - Jan. 28, 2011
AT A GLANCE
Fresh off a thrilling overtime win at Lipscomb, FGCU (8-9, 4-3) will cap its stay in the Music City on Monday night when it takes on first place Belmont (12-6, 5-1) at the Curb Event Center. The Eagles, who have won five over their last seven games, will be in search of their first three-game A-Sun road win streak in program history and will look to leave Nashville with a sweep for the first time in five attempts. Balance has been the theme to FGCU's 5-2 mark since December 22, as five players have reached double figures in the same game in four of the victories during that span. Belmont sports the same type of balanced scoring attack with a league-best five players averaging double figures on the season.
Behind a pair of second half performances that saw Belmont out-score FGCU by an average of 26 points (102-50), the Bruins swept last year's season series to hold a 5-2 all-time edge. Belmont's sweep came a year after the Eagles took both meetings from Belmont, joining Lipscomb as the only A-Sun teams to do so in 2009-10.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON is making a strong case from A-Sun Freshman of the Year, leading all conference rookies in scoring (12.3), rebounding (4.9) and steals (1.9). The Conyers, Ga. product has led FGCU in scoring seven times thanks to a team-best 13 double figure outings that put his 12.3 points per game eighth overall in the A-Sun. Thompson is coming off his first career double-double during Saturday's OT win at Lipscomb with 10 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.
Coming in at No. 19 in the January 9th edition of the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll, Belmont is also No. 86 in the RealTime RPI rankings. The Bruins have put together a 7-1 record at the Curb Event Center this season with their lone loss coming to rival Lipscomb, who FGCU defeated in overtime two nights ago. Behind five players in double figures and another at 9.4 points per game, Belmont leads the A-Sun and ranks 18th in the nation in scoring at a 79.5 per game clip. The Bruins' offensive efficiency is boosted by its league-high 16.6 assists per game and league-low 12.6 turnovers. Junior point guard Kerron Johnson leads the team in scoring (14.3), while ranking just behind FGCU point guard Brett Comer for the A-Sun lead in assists per game (5.1). The senior forward tandem of Scott Saunders (10.3/5.7) and Mick Hedgepeth (9.4/6.3) along with junior guard Ian Clark (11.8) were all named to the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference team.
LAST GAME: FGCU Rallies for Impressive OT Win at Lipscomb
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After erasing a 13-point second half lead to force its second overtime game in the last week, FGCU hit 8-of-12 free throws in the final 70 seconds of the extra frame and got four consecutive stops to pull away for a 84-80 Atlantic Sun win at Lipscomb Saturday night at Allen Arena. • Five players reached double figures for the second straight game, as the Eagles picked up their second straight A-Sun road win en route to improving to 4-3 in league play. • One of the catalysts in the overtime, freshman point guard BRETT COMER knocked down 6-of-8 free throws in the extra frame and helped the Eagles go the final 8:16 without a turnover, including the entire OT period. Comer finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. • FGCU was able to overcome a 42 percent (32-77) night from the field thanks to 19 offensive rebounds that helped build a final 53-40 edge on the backboard. Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON’S season-high 12 rebounds were coupled with 10 points for his first career double-double. Thompson, sophomore CHASE FIELER and SHERWOOD BROWN each had four offensive boards to lead to 40 points in the paint and 19 second chances points.
FGCU leads the A-Sun at a 38.3 percent clip from three-point range, a mark that ranked 29th in the nation earlier in the week. The Eagles have made at least eight threes in nine of the last 11 games and are fourth in the A-Sun at a 7.3 per game clip. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is second in the conference individually, shooting 46 percent (36-79) from beyond the arc, while freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN is fifth (42.3) and freshman BERNARD THOMPSON ninth (41.2).
A season-best five players reached double figures in FGCU's wins over Toledo, Maine, Jacksonville and most recently Lipscomb, while the Eagles are 5-2 when four or more players reach double-digits in the same game. A total of eight players have reached the double-digit plateau this season, while freshman BERNARD THOMPSON (12.3), junior SHERWOOD BROWN (12.1) and sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL (10.1) all rank in the top 30 in the A-Sun 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. Over the teams recent 5-2 run, five players have led the team in scoring.
Freshman BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun and is fourth among all freshmen and 40th nationally in assists per game (5.3). He has reached double figures in eight games, including three straight, resulting in 9.1 points per game. Comer has led the team in assists in all but one game and has passed out seven or more helpers five times. Over the last three games, Comer is averaging 14.7 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds.
WE’LL PICK YOU UP
Through 17 games, FGCU averages 27.4 points per game off the bench, a figure that results in a +6.1 margin per game. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 14 games, including the team's leading scorer on nine occasions, while supplying 25+ points 12 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 bench efforts. Looking further, the bench is shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 42.8 percent (68-159) from three.
Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has found his stroke that helped him finish fifth in the nation among all freshmen in 2010-11 with 78 three-pointers. Varidel is second in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.456) and is the leader in free throw pct. (.897). He is also tied for eighth in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.1). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game seven times this season. He has also reached double-digits six times, including a team-best two 20-point outings.
FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 48 percent of the scoring (34.1), 35 percent of the rebounds (12.6) and 65 percent of the assists (8.2). At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 15 of 17 games, including the last nine. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 12.3 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Point guard BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun with 5.3 assists per game, a mark that ranks fourth among freshmen nationally and 40th overall. Comer is fourth on the team in scoring (9.1) followed classmate DANTE HOLMES (8.1). Thompson's 12.3 points are tops among all freshmen and have come on a team-high 13 double figure outings. Freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN has reached double figures four times.
Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double-digits eight times this season compared to five through all of last year, and is averaging 7.2 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds. Against Maine, Fieler hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 11 points for his first double-double. Fieler leads the team in both rebounds and blocks (1.2), figures that rank 15th and seventh in the A-Sun, respectively. The Parkersburg, W. Va. product also leads the team with 33 offensive rebounds.
After playing just two overtime games in A-Sun play over the last three seasons (60 games), FGCU played two over a week span. The Eagles fell at home to UNF, but prevailed at Lipscomb on Saturday for their second-ever A-Sun road OT win. The Eagles played three OT games during their first year in the league (2007-08).
Aside from being the league's top scoring freshman (12.3), BERNARD THOMPSON has used is long 6-foot-3 frame to his benefit on the defensive end. Up until playing Jacksonville, Thompson had a streak of 13 games with steal and ranks second in the A-Sun at 1.9 thefts per game. Thompson has 12 multi-steal performances, highlighted by four against UNF. Thompson is on pace for 60 steals, a mark that would finish top five in single-season history.
FGCU not only leads the A-Sun in three-point shooting percentage, but is also third in field goal percentage at a 45.9 percent clip. The Eagles have been held below 40 percent in a game just one time this season, while going 4-1 when breaking the 50-percent plateau.
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 6.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The Fort Myers product produced his first career double-double against Toledo, going for 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds over 36 minutes. Murray is shooting 58.7 percent (44-75) from the floor over 23.1 minutes per game. Murray has nearly hit all the totals he put up through two full seasons in just 17 games this year.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU
Since returning to the lineup three games ago, junior SHERWOD BROWN is averaging 13 points and 6.7 rebounds off the bench. Highlighted by his first career double-double at Miami and a 20-point outing against ETSU, Brown has reached double figures eight times in 13 contests, ranking second on the team in both scoring (11.8) and is tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.4) - figures that rank 10th and 14th in the A-Sun, respectively. Brown also ranks eighth in the A-Sun with a 52.3 field goal percentage.
A big part of the early success of the FGCU bench has been the performance of sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL off the pine. Varidel has been in the starting lineup, but has turned in season-highs off the bench. His 10.6 points per game average off the pine is 2.9 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.
SECOND HALF SURGE
Highlighted by freshman BERNARD THOMPSON'S 18 points at Kennesaw State and 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 Thompson (at Loyola) have all scored 15 points in one second half. More proof of FGCU's balance, five different players have scored double figure points in at least 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 seventh in the A-Sun with 20 blocks, helping the Eagles produce 4.0 blocks per game, a figure that is second in the league.
First-year head coach ANDY ENFIELD has used seven different lineups through 17 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 eight games (5-4). At least four underclassmen have started in all but two games. FGCU has rolled the same starting five of Comer, Thompson, Holmes, Fieler and Murray the last nine games (5-4).
Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON earned a pair of weekly awards Jan. 2-3. He was named the College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Week, while the league office named him the Newcomer of the Week. The award came after Thompson had 15 points and nine rebounds against Maine and followed with 13 points at Mercer.