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With No. 1 Seed On The Line, @FGCU_MBB Starts Final Road Trip At Lipscomb Thursday
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||LIP|
|FG Percentage||.412 (21-51)||.500 (30-60)|
|3P FG Percentage||.308 (8-26)||.500 (15-30)|
|FT Percentage||.750 (21-28)||.773 (17-22)|
SMITH - 21
McKNIGHT - 1
GRAF - 1
DENNY - 2
SMITH - 2
FIELER - 1
FGCU (19-10, 13-3 A-Sun)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fighting for the No. 1 seed in next week’s Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, FGCU (19-10, 13-3 A-Sun) begins its final regular-season roadtrip at Lipscomb (13-14, 8-8 A-Sun) Thursday at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. Central) tied for first place in the league.
SETTING THE STAGE
Courtesy of a 75-61 win over Mercer on ESPNU last Friday, FGCU pulled even with the Bears (22-7) as the top-two teams in the preseason polls are now knotted at 13-3 in the conference standings after the Eagles beat Kennesaw State on Saturday and the Bears took down Stetson. Both clubs have two regular-season games left as the Eagles will conclude the year at Northern Kentucky Saturday while Mercer hosts UNF – one of the three teams it has lost to this year – and Jacksonville.
FGCU and Mercer split their season series, so if the two teams finish the year with the same record, the first tiebreaker will be record against the third-place team, which will be either USC Upstate or ETSU. Those two teams, which are both 10-7 in the league, square off at Upstate on Friday. If FGCU and Mercer finish tied and Upstate defeats ETSU, the Eagles will clinch the No. 1 seed and have home-court advantage throughout the A-Sun Championship. If the same scenario plays out but ETSU defeats Upstate, Mercer will earn the No. 1 seed. FGCU went 2-0 against Upstate and 1-1 versus ETSU, while Mercer went 1-1 opposite Upstate and 2-0 against ETSU.
WHAT WE KNOW
FGCU can only finish 1st or 2nd in the league standings. The Eagles have guaranteed themselves the right to host a quarterfinal tournament game against either the 7th or 8th seed on Tuesday, Mar. 4, at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. With a win, FGCU would also host a semifinal matchup on Thursday, Mar. 6, at either 6:30 or 8:30 p.m. on CSS. The championship final will take place at the home of the highest-remaining seed on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 9.
Current and future season-ticket holders, in addition to FGCU students, can now secure their tickets for all those games by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office or by calling 239-590-7145. Student tickets are free, courtesy of FGCU picking up the $5 charge. All other prices vary, and ticket information can be found by visiting the link at the top of this release. Any remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public starting Saturday, Mar. 1.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, and fans can access the production free of charge by following the link at the top of this release or logging on to WatchESPN.com. Live in-game and behind-the-scenes updates will be available through Twitter (@FGCU_MBB) and Instagram (@FGCU_MBB), and live stats can be accessed by following the link at the top of the release.
TWEETABLES (5 Things To Know In 140 Characters Or Less)
• Jamail Jones has posted his first two career double-doubles in the last two games and is the reigning A-Sun Newcomer of the Week.
• Brett Comer needs just 17 points for 1,000 in his career; he would become the third different FGCU player this year to reach the milestone.
• A win would be the 100th Division-I victory for FGCU as the Eagles have an all-time D-I record of 99-120 since making the jump in 2007-08.
• With three makes, Bernard Thompson (460) will claim the program’s all-time lead in field goals made, surpassing Ryan Hopkins (462).
• A victory would give FGCU its fourth different four-game winning streak of the year, including the third different one in A-Sun action.
KEY STATISTICAL MATCHUPS
Lipscomb has made the 11th-most 3-pointers in the nation (240), while having attempted the 6th most (676). By comparison, FGCU has only attempted 490 3s and connected on 168 of them. The Bisons lead the A-Sun in percentage of total points which come from beyond the arc with 36 percent, compared with 24 percent from FGCU.
The Eagles, meanwhile, look to get the ball inside as they average 33 points per game in the paint – more than five points better per contest than their opponents – spearheaded by an average of three dunks per game.
FGCU is second in the A-Sun in field-goal percentage defense in league games, allowing opponents to connect at just a 39.4-percent clip, just .2 behind Mercer (39.2). So far in conference games, the Eagles have held eight opponents below their season scoring average, and seven foes below their season 3-point average and percentage. FGCU has a top-85 defense nationally on the year, allowing opponents to score only 66.6 points per games – second best in the A-Sun to Mercer’s 66.3.
In their first meeting this year, FGCU came away with a 75-62 win, holding Lipscomb to 36 percent from 3-point range (9-25) and 38.5 percent from the field overall (20-52). The 40-percent mark is the key number for FGCU as the Eagles are 11-0 on the year when holding their opponents below 40 percent from the floor.
• Lipscomb, which has won two in a row and six of its last eight after starting the A-Sun schedule 2-6, is coming off a 70-66 win over Northern Kentucky.
• FGCU lost to Lipscomb twice last year as the Eagles (13-5) finished one game behind Mercer (14-4) for the regular-season title. Lipscomb leads the all-time series, 8-4, including a 5-1 record at home in Nashville.
• Lipscomb, which is currently tied for 5th with UNF at 8-8, was picked to finish 8th in both the A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll and Media Poll.
• The Bisons are ranked 37th in the nation in free throw attempts with 711 and 58th in the nation in total free throws made with 483.
• Freshman guard Josh Williams ranks 6th in A-Sun games at 15.5 points. The newcomer picked up his league-leading third A-Sun Newcomer of the Week award last week after averaging 18 points and 7.5 rebounds.
• Redshirt freshman guard J.C. Hampton continues to lead all A-Sun freshmen in scoring, averaging 14.7 points – a figure that ranks him 7th among all players in the league and 17th nationally among freshmen.
LAST TIME vs. LIPSCOMB
Led by a then-career-high-tying 24 points from Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS), FGCU cruised to a 75-62 win over visiting Lipscomb on Jan. 1 to start league play 2-0 for the first time in program history.
Comer, who also reached 500 career assists in the contest, scored 14 points in the first half and added 10 more in the first 4:19 of the second stanza as part of a 15-5 FGCU run which put the game out of reach early.
Making his first start of the year, Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C./Princeton Day Academy) corralled a career-best 10 rebounds and added six points while rejecting three shots.
The 15-5 run to start the second half was part of a larger 20-5 stretch bridging both halves which turned a four-point game at 34-30 into a 19-point lead at 54-35. After allowing Lipscomb to shoot 6-15 (40 percent) from the 3-point line in the first half, the Green and Blue allowed the Bisons to connect on just 3-10 opportunities from long range in the second half.
The FGCU defense held Lipscomb to 38-percent shooting (20-52) while the Eagles shot 49 percent (26-53) despite a 4-19 (21 percent) performance from beyond the 3-point line.
The taller Eagles – who also pushed the ball at every opportunity against the Bisons – controlled the low blocks, out-scoring the Nashville-based school in the paint, 36-18, and dominating the rebounding battle, 41-31.
JONESING AT THE RIGHT TIME
Jones (Atlanta, Ga./Montverde Academy) is playing the best basketball of his career at the most important time of the season as the redshirt junior has posted four straight double-figure scoring games for the first time in his career. Additionally, the Marquette transfer has grabbed 25 rebounds in his last two games, a total which took him the six games prior to that to achieve.
THE ONLY ONE
FGCU is the only team in the nation this year which has had three different players score at least 30 points in a game. Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) set a then-program D-I record with a 30-point performance on Nov. 12 against Hartford in a 7 a.m. game on ESPN2 as part of the network’s tipoff marathon. Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) then broke that mark with 32 in a double-overtime contest at USF on Dec. 17. Comer equaled Fieler’s showing with 30 points of his own on Feb. 6 versus Jacksonville.
All three place in the top 11 in the A-Sun scoring rankings as FGCU is the only team in the conference to have three players rank that high. Thompson (4th) leads the trio at 15.6 per game, while Fieler and Comer are both tied for 10th at 13.7.
Thompson set FGCU’s steals record as he recorded five against Kennesaw State on Saturday. The junior now has 198 pilfers for his career, surpassing Bryan Crislip’s previous record of 194. The nation’s leading returning steals leader (102) from a year ago, Thompson has come on strong recently as five of his 11 multi-steal games on the year have come in the last six contests, including two different five-steal contests in the past three games.
FGCU will make about a five-hour drive to Highland Heights, Ky., on Friday before closing the regular season with the team it opened the conference slate against, Northern Kentucky. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday in the city just over the border from Cincinnati. After the tilt with the Norse, the Eagles will return to Alico Arena to open its A-Sun title defense in the quarterfinal round of the tournament on Tuesday, Mar. 4, at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.
For Atlantic Sun Conference Championship ticket information and sales, visit the Alico Arena Ticket Office, call 239-590-7145 or log on to FGCUAthletics.com.