11/8/2013 | Pinnacle Bank Arena (Lincoln, Neb.) | Attendance: 15119
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||NEB|
|3P FG Percentage||.400
LINCOLN, Neb. – Despite team highs of 17 points and 8 rebounds from Jamail Jones, the FGCU men’s basketball team came up short in its highly-anticipated season opener at Nebraska on Friday night, 79-55, in front of a national TV audience on the Big Ten Network.
Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy) was playing his first game for the Eagles since transferring from Marquette, and the 6-6 junior delivered on 5-12 shooting and a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line. Bernard Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) added 12 points for the Eagles, who were saddled with foul trouble from the early stages of the game.
Lone senior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) picked up two fouls just more than three minutes into the game and scored only five points while going just 1-6 from the free-throw line. Thompson and Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C./Phillip O. Berry Academy) also had two fouls in the opening half as Nebraska took advantage by shooting 58 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
Thompson and Jones combined for more than half of FGCU’s points, while Filip Cvjeticanin (Zagreb, Croatia/American School of Madrid) came off the bench to provide the Green and Blue some quality shooting as the junior didn’t miss, going 4-4 from the floor and 2-2 from the beyond the 3-point line.
Nebraska jumped out to a double-figure lead 12 minutes in and extended it to 16, 33-17, with five minutes left in the half before FGCU started to make a push late in the stanza. The Eagles concluded the first half on a 6-0 run to pull within 12 at the break, 39-27, following a Cvjeticanin pull-up from just inside the arc in transition to beat the buzzer.
On their first possession of the second half, the Eagles immediately went inside to Fieler. The West Virginia native was fouled in the act of shooting, but missed both free throws, helping spearhead a subsequent 16-5 Cornhuskers’ run which helped put the game out of reach.
“Nebraska made some shots and got some confidence going early, and to tell you the truth they controlled the game throughout,” said head coach Joe Dooley, who was making his FGCU debut. “I’m disappointed in some of the things we did and a lot of it can be contributed to what Nebraska did. But I think we’re going to get better throughout the year. We learned some hard lessons, but this is something we need to build from.”
The Huskers were led by a game-high 28 points from Shavon Shields, who went a perfect 12-12 from the free-throw line. Terran Petteway added 17 points for Nebraska, which opened its brand new, $179-million Pinnacle Bank Arena and was sold out with 15,119 spectators.
After shooting just 36.4 percent in the first half, the Eagles connected to the tune of 52.4 percent in the second half. Meanwhile, they limited Nebraska to 45.8 percent in the second stanza, but the Cornhuskers still shot 52.1 percent from the floor for the night. The Eagles also struggled from the free-throw line, going 11-21, including just 3-11 in the closing 20 minutes.
FGCU returns to action on Tuesday morning for its Breakfast at the Beach contest on ESPN2 versus Hartford. The game, which is nearly sold out, will tip at 7 a.m. and be broadcast live as part of ESPN’s 24-Hour Tipoff Marathon.
GAME NOTES: Nate Hicks grabbed six rebounds, added four points and contributed two blocks in his first game with the Eagles … Brett Comer led FGCU with three assists and knocked down a 3-pointer … Graf finished with four points … FGCU went 6-15 (40 percent) from 3-point range.
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2013-14 men’s basketball season tickets are selling quickly, and only a limited amount remain. New this year are mini-plan packages for all games, with the exception of “Breakfast at the Beach,” and individual-game tickets are now on sale. Fans can reserve their seat(s) by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.