GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Ready For Big A-Sun Test Against Mercer
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Comer leads the A-Sun and is second among freshmen nationally at 5.8 assists per game. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Comer leads the A-Sun and is second among freshmen nationally at 5.8 assists per game. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Mercer (17-7, 9-2 A-Sun)
Florida Gulf Coast (11-11, 6-5 A-Sun)
1/30/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. (Alico Arena) | Attendance: 1738
Florida Gulf Coast323466
Stats at a GlanceMUMFGCU
FG Percentage.587 (27-46) .373 (22-59)
3P FG Percentage.500 (11-22) .333 (8-24)
FT Percentage.556 (10-18) .737 (14-19)
Offensive Rebounds818
Defensive Rebounds1917
Total Rebounds2735
Bench Points2316
Statistical LeadersMUMFGCU
PointsHALL - 20
BROWN - 15
ReboundsTHOMAS - 5
BROWN - 13
AssistsHALL - 6
StealsGOLLON - 3
BlocksCOURSEY - 2

FGCU (11-10, 6-4 A-SUN) vs. Mercer (16-7, 8-2 A-SUN)
DATE: Monday, Jan. 30, 2012
CITY: Fort Myers, Fla.
SITE: Alico Arena (4,500)
TIP-OFF: 7:05 p.m. ET
TALENT: Tom James (P-B-P)
J. Webb Horton (Analyst)
LAST 10 GAMES: 7-3
AT HOME: 8-2
SERIES: Mercer leads, 8-1
LAST MEETING: @Mercer 76, FGCU 54 - Jan. 2, 2012

FGCU will look to continue its winning ways on Monday night when it welcomes first place Mercer to Alico Arena Monday night for the second meeting between the two teams this season. Since falling at Mercer to open the New Year, the Eagles have gone 6-2 while averaging 80.2 points per game and will attempt to equal a program D-1 record win streak of four games. FGCU, who sits in sole possession of fourth place in the A-Sun standings, can also equal its record of three straight A-Sun wins. Mercer sports the longest current win streak in the A-Sun at five games and has a conference best 16 wins.

The matchup will pin Mercer's top ranked defense (63.8) in the A-Sun against FGCU's high-powered offense that is averaging 95 points in its last three outings. Over its last 10 games in which it is 8-2, Mercer has limited five opponents to less than 60 points. On the flipside, the Eagles lead the A-Sun in both field goal percentage (.478) and three-point percentage (.391).

FGCU has produced its top three offensive games of the season in its last three outings, highlighted by a 101-point night against Longwood. Over the three victories, the Eagles are averaging 95 points on 61 percent (102-167) shooting from the field and five players averaging double figure points. FGCU has broken a pair of D-1 records during the spurt, shooting 64.7 percent (33-51) at Stetson and defeating Longwood by 43 points (101-58). Balance has been the theme over the three games, as seven different players have reached double figures.

Led by fourth-year head coach Bob Hoffman, Mercer's blend of youth and experience has the Bears in a tie with Belmont for first place in the A-Sun at 8-2. Mercer has a record of 42-24 in the A-Sun under Hoffman and is off to its best start in league play since the 2002-03 season. Like FGCU, the Bears sport a balanced scoring attack that features six players at 8.6 points per game or better. Senior Justin Cecil, who scored 21 first half points in the first meeting, leads the way at 12.1 per game.

FGCU's lone win against Mercer came at Alico Arena on Jan. 24, 2010, as the Bears hold a commanding 8-1 lead in the all-time series. Six of the first seven meetings in the series have decided by 10 points or less. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL has reached double figures in all three of his games against Mercer.

LAST GAME: FGCU Uses Hot Shooting Night to Defeat Kennesaw St.
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A season-high six players reached double figures led by 17 points from 6-foot-9 sharpshooting freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN, as FGCU picked up its third win in a row with a 92-74 Atlantic Sun triumph over Kennesaw State in front of 2,810 fans at Alico Arena Saturday night. • The win gave the Green and Blue and season sweep of the Owls (3-19, 0-10) and moves the Eagles to 6-4 in the A-Sun. FGCU’s three-game win streak is its longest of the season and its 11 wins (11-10) equal a program Division I record. • Cvjeticanin’s 5-for-6 night from three-point land was a microcosm of the type of shooting performance the Eagles put on, surpassing the 50-percent clip for the third straight game. FGCU finished 29-of-48 from the field (60.4%) and knocked down 27-of-34 at the free throw line to break 90 points for the third straight game. • With the score tied 47-47 at the 12:35 mark of the second half, FGCU broke the game open over the next four and half minutes thanks to a 19-4 run. The game-changing spurt was capped by back-to-back three-pointers by Cvjeticanin, while Fieler had five points and two assists during the run that gave the Eagles a 66-51 lead with 7:01 remaining.

Freshman BERNARD THOMPSON is making a strong case for A-Sun Freshman of the Year, leading all conference rookies in scoring (11.9), rebounding (4.8) and steals (2.0) - figures that are all in the top 20 in the A-Sun. The Conyers, Ga. product has led FGCU in scoring seven times thanks to a team-best 16 double figure outings that has him 14th overall in the A-Sun in scoring.

Just two games removed from a program Division I record 64.7 percent shooting night (33-51) at Stetson, FGCU leads the A-Sun in both field goal percentage (.478) and three-point percentage (.391) - figures that would rank 34th and 29th nationally when figured into the latest rankings through Jan. 26. The Eagles have been held below 40 percent in a game just two times this season, while going 7-1 when breaking the 50-percent plateau. FGCU enters Monday having shot 50 percent or better in three straight games, a program Division I record and just the fourth time in the 10 years of the program it has been accomplished. The Green and Blue's current 47.8 field goal percentage is on pace to break the single-season record.

Freshman BRETT COMER leads the A-Sun, is second among all freshmen and 29th nationally in assists per game (5.8). Highlighted by his most recent 12-assist night against Longwood, Comer is the first A-Sun player since 2007 to have three double figure assist games in the same season. Over his current seven-game run, he is averaging 12.6 points and 6.6 assists, while going 33-of-54 from the floor with an even or positive assists/turnover ratio in six contests. Comer has led the team in assists in all but one game and has passed out seven or more helpers eight times.

Someone who is never at a loss for words, freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN has let his game do the talking over the last seven contests. Over that span, the 6-foot-9 sharpshooting Croatian has reached double figures five times, highlighted by his most recent 17-point night against Kennesaw State on 5-of-6 from three-point land. Cvjeticanin's 16-of-29 clip from long range over the seven-game stretch has the freshman second in the A-Sun in three-point field goal percentage at 47.2 (34-72).

Through 21 games, FGCU averages 29.4 points per game off the bench, highlighted by 124 points (41.3) over the last three games. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 18 games, including the team's leading scorer on 11 occasions, while scoring 25+ points 16 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 48.4 percent from the field and 45.6 percent (93-204) from three. Against Longwood, the bench produced 49 points for their third 40+ point night of the season.

Leading the A-Sun at a 39.1 percent clip from three-point range as a team, FGCU has four different players in the top 10 individually. Freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN is second in the conference, shooting 47 percent, while sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is third (.467), junior Sherwood Brown (.391) is eighth and freshman BERNARD THOMPSON is ninth (.390).

A season-best six players reached double figures in FGCU's win over Longwood, while at least five players have done so in seven of FGCU's last 11 games (7-0), while the Eagles are 8-2 when four or more players reach double-digits in the same game. Freshman BRETT COMER'S 24 points at Stetson were the most by an Eagle this season as he became the fourth player to reach the 20 point plateau. A total of eight players have reached the double-digits this season, while six have led the team in scoring at least once.

FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 49 percent of the scoring (36.0), 36 percent of the rebounds (12.6) and 67 percent of the assists (9.0). At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 19 of 21 games, including the last 13, while the Eagles are 7-0 when three members of the quartet accomplish the feat. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 11.9 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Against Kennesaw State, four freshmen reached double figures - the most in a single-game in program history.

Named the A-Sun Player of the Week by College Sports Madness on Jan. 17, junior SHERWOOD BROWN leads the team in both scoring (12.2) and rebounding (5.5) - figures that rank 11th and 13th in the A-Sun, respectively. With team-bests of two 20-point games and two double-doubles, Brown has reached double figures 11 times in 17 contests, and also ranks 10th in the A-Sun with a 52.4 FG percentage. Over 44 minutes in the last two games, Brown has 34 points and 16 boards.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double-digits nine times this season compared to five through all of last year, and is averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. Against Maine, Fieler hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 11 points for his first double-double, and is coming off a career-high 15 points against Kennesaw State. Fieler leads the team in both offensive rebounds (36) and blocks (22).

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 (.467) and is 10th in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.1). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game eight times this season. He has also reached double-digits eight times, including a team-best two 20-point outings.

Aside from being the league's top scoring freshman (11.9), 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 2.0 thefts per game. Thompson has 16 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. As a team, FGCU ranks third in the A-Sun and 41st in the country (8.2).

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 3.8 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 61.8 percent (55-89) from the floor over 22.3 minutes per game. Murray has surpassed all the totals

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 third in the A-Sun in three-point percentage (.467) and is 11th in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.0). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game eight times this season. He has also reached double-digits eight times with a team-best two 20-point outings.

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 10.1 points per game average off the pine is 2.4 points better than his average in the starting five. Varidel poured in 20 points at SMU and against Maine, 17 at Loyola Maryland and vs. Longwood, and 16 against Toledo to lead the team in scoring four times off the bench.

Led by a program Highlighted by a D-1 record 60 second half points against Longwood on 25-of-38 from the field, FGCU has gone over 50 points in the second half in each of the last three games. 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, six different players have scored double figure points in at least one second half.