GAME PREVIEW: FGCU Begins Final Road Swing at USC Upstate
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Thompson went for 17 points and 12 rebounds in FGCU's last game against Stetson.
Thompson went for 17 points and 12 rebounds in FGCU's last game against Stetson.
Florida Gulf Coast (13-15, 8-9 A-Sun)
USC Upstate (19-11,12-5 A-Sun)
2/23/2012 | Spartanburg, S.C. (Hodge Center) | Attendance: 782
Florida Gulf Coast245074
USC Upstate464187
Stats at a GlanceFGCUUPST
FG Percentage.378 (28-74) .459 (28-61)
3P FG Percentage.333 (10-30) .517 (15-29)
FT Percentage.571 (8-14) .571 (16-28)
Offensive Rebounds2221
Defensive Rebounds1830
Total Rebounds4051
Bench Points1814
Statistical LeadersFGCUUPST
PointsBROWN - 24
CRAIG - 30
ReboundsMURRAY - 7
GLENN - 14
AssistsVARIDEL - 4
StealsBROWN - 2
BlocksMURRAY - 2

FGCU (13-14, 8-8 A-SUN) at USC Upstate (18-11, 11-5 A-SUN)
DATE: Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
CITY: Spartanburg, S.C.
SITE: Hodge Center (818)
TIP-OFF: 7:30 p.m. ET
SERIES: FGCU leads, 5-3
LAST MEETING: USC Upstate 80, @FGCU 75 - Dec. 19, 2011

Currently in a tie for fifth in the Atlantic Sun standings, FGCU will hit the road for the final weekend of regular season play beginning at third place USC Upstate on Thursday night at the Hodge Center. The Eagles are 4-3 on the road in A-Sun play this season, a program single-season record for conference road wins, and are 2-1 all-time in Spartanburg, S.C. FGCU owns a 5-3 edge in the all-time series between the two programs who just finished their four-year Division I transition period and are now eligible for postseason play. The Spartans defeated the Eagles, 80-75, in the first meeting this season in Fort Myers.

Thursday night's game will feature two of the three players in the Atlantic Sun that rank in the top 12 in scoring and rebounding. Junior SHERWOOD BROWN leads FGCU in both categories, ranking 12th in scoring (12.4) and eighth in rebounding (6.0). Reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year Torrey Craig is USC Upstate's leader and a strong candidate for Player of the Year, topping the conference in scoring at 16.5 points, while sitting second with 7.9 rebounds per contest. Brown poured in a career-high 26 points last year in Spartanburg, S.C. on 7-of-10 from three-point land, while Craig is averaging 10.7 points on just 8-for-43 from the field in three career games against the Eagles.

One of seven teams to clinch an A-Sun Tournament berth already, FGCU will head to Macon, Ga. in late February in its first year of eligibility after going through the four-year Division I transition period. The Eagles could still be a 4-8 seed, but can stay out of the No. 7 and No. 8 spot with a win at USC Upstate.

Predicted to finish ninth in the A-Sun in both the media and coaches preseason poll, USC Upstate has won eight of its last 10 games to sit at 18-11 overall and third place in the conference at 11-5. Like the Eagles, Upstate sports a youthful lineup that included all underclassmen in its starting five last time out. Reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year Torrey Craig leads the conference in scoring at 16.5 points per game despite being held in single-digits the last two games for the first time this season. Craig has 10 20-point games to his credit this season, while adding 7.9 rebounds to lead an USC Upstate club that is tops in the A-Sun on the boards at a +4.4 margin per game. Adding to the Spartans' rebounding prowess is redshirt sophomore Ricardo Glenn, who leads the leagues in offensive rebounding (3.3) to contribute to Upstate's conference-best 14.3 offensive caroms per contest. Freshman guard Ty Greene hit the game-winner at the buzzer in the team's win at Lipscomb last Saturday that appeared on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays and landed the Knoxville, Tenn. product the A-Sun Newcomer of the Week honors.

Freshmen BERNARD THOMPSON and BRETT COMER are both making strong cases for A-Sun Freshman of the Year. Thompson leads all A-Sun rookies in rebounding (5.1) and steals (1.9), while ranking second in scoring (11.5) - figures that are all in the top 20 in the A-Sun. Comer leads the entire league in assists (5.7) and is fifth among A-Sun freshman in scoring (9.1). A product of Conyers, Ga., Thompson has led FGCU in scoring nine times thanks to a team-best 19 double figure outings, while Comer has been the team leader in assists in all but two contests. Both have been named A-Sun Newcomer of the Week on one occasion.

Freshmen BRETT COMER and BERNARD THOMPSON each recorded a double-double last game against Stetson, becoming the first pair of FGCU players to finish with a double-double in the same game since Nov. 27, 2007, - a streak of 141 games - when Landon Adler and Terike Barrowes accomplished the feat against Maryland Eastern Shore. Comer and Thompson combined for 28 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists, as Comer's double-double featured points/assists (11/10), while Thompson's was of the points/rebounds (17/12) variety. Both Comer and Thompson have two double-doubles on the season, while the only other A-Sun freshman with one is Lipscomb's Malcolm Smith.

Highlighted by a program Division I record 64.7 percent shooting night (33-51) at Stetson on Jan. 20, FGCU is third in the A-Sun in field goal percentage (.465) and first in three-point percentage (.381). The Eagles have been held below 40 percent in a game just five times (0-5), while going 8-1 when breaking the 50-percent plateau. FGCU shot 50 percent or better in three straight games (@Stetson, Longwood, Kennesaw State), 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 46.5 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 28th nationally in assists per game (5.7). Highlighted by his 12-assist night against Longwood, Comer is the first A-Sun player since 2007 to have four double figure assist games in the same season. Comer has led the team in assists in all but two games and has passed out seven or more helpers 10 times. His 154 assists on the season rank seventh in single-season history, while he is trying to become the first freshman to lead the league in assists since Mercer's James Florence did so in 2006-07.

Named the A-Sun Player of the Week on Jan. 31, junior SHERWOOD BROWN leads the team in both scoring (12.4) and rebounding (6.0) - figures that rank 12th and eighth in the A-Sun. With team-bests of three 20-point games and three double-doubles, Brown has reached double figures 16 times in 23 contests and also ranks 14th in the A-Sun with a 50.2 FG percentage. Brown is vying to become the third player in FGCU history to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in the same season.

A season-best six players reached double figures for the second time this year in FGCU's win over Lipscomb, while at least five players have done so in eight times (8-0), and the Eagles are 9-3 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 five have done so at least 10 times. Six different have led the team in scoring at least once.

Tops in the A-Sun at a 38.1 percent clip from three-point range as a team, three different Eagles rank in the top 10 individually. Sophomore CHRISTOPHE VARIDEL is second in the conference, shooting 46 percent (55-120), while freshman FILIP CVJETICANIN is third (.440) and junior SHERWOOD BROWN (.378) is ninth.

Through 27 games, FGCU averages 29.1 points per game off the bench. The bench has supplied a double figure scorer in 23 games, including the team's leading scorer on 11 occasions, while scoring 25+ points 19 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. Against Longwood, the bench produced 49 points for their third 40+ point night of the season. FGCU has won the battle of the benches in 21 of 26 games.

Sophomore CHASE FIELER has reached double-digits 10 times this season compared to five through all of last year, and is averaging 7.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. Against Maine, Fieler hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 11 points for his first double-double, and had a career-high 15 points against Kennesaw State. Fieler leads the team with 29 blocks and is second on the squad with 40 offensive boards.

FGCU's freshmen class has wasted little time making an impact, accounting for 48 percent of the scoring (35.1), 36 percent of the rebounds (12.6) and 65 percent of the assists (8.9). At least one of the four freshmen has scored in double figures in 24 of 27 games, while the Eagles are 8-1 when three members of the quartet accomplish the feat. Led by combo guard BERNARD THOMPSON'S 11.5 points per game, freshmen account for three the Green and Blue's top five scorers. Against Kennesaw State and Stetson, four freshmen reached double figures - the most in a single game in program history.

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 (.458) and is ninth in the A-Sun in threes per game (2.0). The Versoix, Switzerland native has made three or more treys in a game 11 times this season. He has also reached double-digits 12 times, including two 20-point outings.

Aside from being the league's second-leading freshmen scorer (11.5), BERNARD THOMPSON has used is long 6-foot-3 frame to his benefit on the defensive end. Behind 20 multi-steal performances, Thompson ranks third in the A-Sun at 1.9 thefts per game. 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 38th in the country in steals (8.2). The Eagles have scored 20+ points off opponent turnovers seven times this season.