3/6/2014 | Alico Arena - Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 4668
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||FGCU|
|3P FG Percentage||.320
No. 4 ETSU (18-14, 10-8 A-Sun)
@ No. 1 FGCU (21-11, 14-4 A-Sun)
Thursday, Mar. 6 | 6:30 PM | Alico Arena (4,633)
TV/Video: CSS (486/70) / ESPN3
(Subject to Blackout)
PxP: Neil Solondz | Analyst: Scott Sanderson
PxP: Mark Miller
DUNK CITY, Fla. – Looking to advance to its third Atlantic Sun Men’s Basketball Championship final in as many years, top-seeded FGCU (21-11) returns to the friendly confines of Alico Arena to take on fourth-seeded ETSU (18-14) Thursday night at 6:30 in the semifinal round on CSS.
WHAT TO KNOW
• Fans are encouraged to wear green to create a GREENOUT atmosphere in Alico Arena.
• The game will be FGCU’s 12th sellout of the year and sixth standing-room-only sellout as only 60 standing-room-only tickets remain. Those tickets are not expected to be available at game time, and can only be purchased in person at the Alico Arena Ticket Office beginning at 9 a.m.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be FGCU’s 10th TV contest of the year, and fifth on CSS. Fans in Southwest Florida can access CSS in high definition on channel 486 or in standard definition on channel 70. Neil Solondz will handle the play-by-play duties with Scott Sanderson serving as the analyst. The broadcast will also be available on ESPN3 (subject to blackout) by following the link at the top of this release.
ESPN Radio 99.3 FM will carry the game locally with Mark Miller on the call. Fans outside the area can access the broadcast online by clicking the link at the top of the release or by utilizing the iRadioNow mobile app. 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.
HOW WE GOT HERE
FGCU looked every bit the part of its No. 1 seed on Tuesday night in the quarterfinal matchup against eighth-seeded Stetson, never trailing and rolling over the Hatters, 77-55, in front of a record crowd of 4,673. Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) led a quartet of FGCU double-figure scorers with a game-high 17 points.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
ETSU defeated fifth-seeded Lipscomb in double overtime, 89-88, Thursday night after overcoming a 16-point deficit with eight minutes remaining. Near the end of the second overtime, Lipscomb freshman Josh Williams, who was named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team earlier in the week, had a chance to potentially win the game but missed his shot. Not realizing the game was still tied at 88-88, Williams then deliberately fouled ETSU freshman A.J. Merriweather under the Bucs’ basket after he grabbed the rebound. Merriweather, an all-freshman pick himself, missed the first free throw but hit the second with 1.5 seconds remaining to give ETSU the win.
TWEETABLES (5 Things To Know In 140 Characters Or Less)
• Bernard Thompson enters with 1,351 career points, just 17 shy of surpassing the all-time program record of 1,367 by Ryan Hopkins ’05.
• Brett Comer (597) needs 10 assists to set the all-time FGCU record for career assists of 606, currently held by Bryan Crislip ’05.
• FGCU out-scored Stetson in the paint Tuesday, 43-26, and is now 24-0 dating back to the 2011-12 season when finishing with a +15 margin in the paint.
• In the two meetings this year between FGCU and ETSU, the Eagles have out-scored the Bucs in the paint by 26 points, including +16 (38-22) at home.
• Tuesday night’s wire-to-wire win marked the eighth time this year FGCU has never trailed in a game, including back-to-back contests.
FGCU IN THE A-SUN CHAMPIONSHIP
FGCU and ETSU have never met in tournament play – one of four teams the Green and Blue has never played in the A-Sun Championship. While FGCU’s .857 winning percentage (6-1) is the best all-time among current league members, ETSU’s .667 (12-6) over nine years ranks second.
This is only FGCU’s third year eligible for the A-Sun Championship after going through a four-year Division-I reclassification period from 2007-11. In its first two seasons, FGCU advanced to the title game both years. The Green and Blue went 2-0 in 2012 as a No. 6 seed before losing to Belmont in the final and then won all three of their games as a No. 2 seed en route to the title in 2013. In 15 previous A-Sun Championship meetings between the No. 1 seed and No. 4 seed, the top seed has won 12 times.
• ETSU has a road record of 5-9 this season, with four of those wins coming against A-Sun competition.
• The Buccaneers have won two A-Sun Championship titles, coming back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.
• ETSU leads the all-time series with FGCU, 9-4, with all four of the Eagles’ victories coming at home.
• ETSU leads the conference from the free-throw line, shooting a 75-percent clip from the charity stripe.
• The Bucs also pace the conference in steals with 247 (7.7 per game), and turnover margin at +2.2.
• A-Sun First Team member Rashawn Rembert is the league leader in scoring with a 16.8 average. He also has a conference-high 99 3-pointers made and leads the league in minutes played, averaging 36.2 per outing.
• Head coach Murry Bartow has nine players who average at least nine minutes per game.
• In addition to Rembert, ETSU has four players averaging double-digit points per game: Jalen Riley (12.7), Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (10.9), Lester Wilson (10.3), and Merriweather (10).
FGCU and ETSU split the season series, with each team winning on its home court. In the first meeting, the Eagles put on a show and flew to a 90-62 win. In the first 10 minutes and 20 seconds of the night FGCU slammed home five dunks, including a pair of alley-oops from Comer to Eric McKnight (Raleigh, N.C/Princeton Day Academy/Iowa State). Those finishes helped FGCU run out to a 32-9 start after the first 12 minutes, and the Green and Blue never led by fewer than 18 the rest of the contest.
In the second meeting, it was ETSU which started fast, opening the game on a 12-0 run and hitting eight 3-pointers in the opening 11 minutes. After trailing by as much as 19 points – and by as much as 17 in the second half – FGCU got its deficit all the way down to just four on three separate occasions. But ETSU’s 12th, and final, 3 of the night with less than four minutes remaining allowed the Eagles to get no closer than six the rest of the night en route to an 89-81 setback.
RE-TWEETS (Courtesy of the A-Sun)
• Thompson’s 1,351 career points are the third-most among active A-Sun players. He sits in 54th place in A-Sun history.
• Fieler has grabbed 688 rebounds in his career. He needs to pull down 15 more to crack the A-Sun top-30.
• FGCU’s 11-game home winning streak is tied for 17th longest active streak in the nation.
• FGCU could become the fourth team in A-Sun Championship history to reach the finals in three straight seasons.
• No. 1 seeds have reached the A-Sun Championship Final in the last three seasons, including nine of the last 10.
70: In conference games, FGCU was one of only three teams to hold opponents below 70 points per game (67.9). ETSU led the A-Sun in offense during league games, averaging 77.7 points per game while also surrendering 76.4 – eighth-worst in the league. On the season, ETSU is only 2-8 when scoring fewer than 70 points. FGCU has held 21 opponents below 70 points on the year, and the Eagles are 17-4 in those games, including a 10-1 mark in A-Sun action.
12: FGCU is a perfect 12-0 on the year when holding opponents below 40 percent from the field. In their last six postseason games – A-Sun Championship and NCAA Tournament – the Eagles have held their opponent below 40-percent shooting five times (lone exception: San Diego State, 44.3 percent).
17: The Eagles are 17-2 this season when out-rebounding their opponents. Coming into the game, FGCU has out-rebounded its last five opponents by an average of 12.4, including four by double figures. In those four games (not including the +2 margin at Lipscomb), FGCU out-rebounded its opponent by a +15 average. The Eagles rank third in the A-Sun in rebounding margin on the year (+3), while ETSU checks in 8th (-3.1).
In addition to closing in on the all-time program record for career assists, Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) is in position to absolutely destroy the all-time conference record. Just a junior, Comer needs only three assists to become the fourth player in A-Sun history with at least 600 assists, joining current Mercer senior Langston Hall. Hall is currently tied for the all-time league record with 613, held by Centenary’s Napolean Byrdsong. With four assists, Comer will move into third place on the all-time list, surpassing the 600 helpers by Campbell’s Junard Hartley.
Dajuan Graf: Recorded a career- and team-season-high six steals versus Stetson, finishing one pilfer shy of tying the A-Sun Championship single-game record. The six steals are the most by an FGCU player since Thompson (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County HS) had the same amount in two separate games against Stetson last year.
Eric McKnight: Hit a career-high five free throws on six attempts against the Hatters Tuesday.
Jamail Jones: Over the last five games is averaging 13.2 points, the third-best average of the team and nearly three points higher than leading scorer Thompson (10.6). The Atlanta native and Marquette transfer has scored in double figures a career-high seven straight games.
Dating back to last year, FGCU has won 20 of its past 21 home games, and boasts a 29-2 record at Alico Arena since the start of the 2012-13 campaign: (Losses: Lipscomb, Iona). Last year, 10 of FGCU’s 11 losses came away from Alico Arena, and so far this season only one of the Eagles’ losses have occurred inside the friendly confines of The Nest where they are 14-1. The setback came at the hands of hot-shooting Iona, which is 20-9 overall and 17-3 in the MAAC as the Gaels won the regular-season championship by two games.
In conference action, FGCU was the only team in the A-Sun to post an undefeated mark against league opponents (9-0). That mark extended to 10-0 with the triumph over Stetson in the quarterfinals Tuesday evening.
FGCU leads the A-Sun in home attendance at 4,294 – 93 percent of Alico’s capacity (33rd-best in the nation) – 40 percent higher than the next-closest team (ETSU, 2,550). The average increased to 4,432 during the Eagles’ nine A-Sun games, 41 percent more than the 2,696 Mercer had in the same time.
In just 15 home games this year, FGCU has had 64,410 fans, a total which surpasses its entire home attendance for the last two years combined (61,493: 36,648 in 2012-13 and 24,845 in 2011-12).
COMING ON STRONG
FGCU has claimed 45 percent (27 of 60) of its all-time A-Sun victories in the last two seasons. The Eagles joined the league in 2007-08 and went 13-5 last year and 14-4 this season.
A win against ETSU will propel the Eagles to the championship final, which FGCU would host on Sunday, Mar. 9, on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. If FGCU reached the title game, it would play either third-seeded USC Upstate (19-13) or second-seeded Mercer (24-8) as those two battle in the second CSS semifinal on Thursday night at 8:30.