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SunBelt First Round: FIU Cheers rematch

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SunBelt First Round: FIU Cheers rematch

FIU's Galindo returns just in time

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When Florida International coach Sergio Rouco gathered his players late Sunday night to inform them of their Sun Belt Tournament first-round opponent, the Golden Panthers erupted.

''This is who we all wanted to play,'' said FIU forward Alex Galindo, whose team takes on Florida Atlantic at 7 tonight in the opening of the Sun Belt tournament. ``It's a rivalry, and we don't have to go out of town to play.''

Well, the Golden Panthers have to go 55 miles north to Boca Raton, but after dropping the first two games to the Owls this season by a total of nine points, FIU is eager for another shot.

FIU gets leading scorer Galindo back tonight after the sophomore sat out the season finale at Western Kentucky with a sprained right ankle.

Galindo's return is a boon, but FIU has been short-handed all season, and that has helped the team grow.

FIU started the season with 12 players, but lost starting center Facundo Giorgi to a season-ending shoulder injury in November. Then starting point guard Elvis Lora dropped out of school and Dejon Prejean, one of the team's leading scorers, transferred to St. Thomas because of academic issues.

''Losing those guys made us a lot closer as a unit,'' forward Chris Fuller said. ``Because it forced us to depend on each other a whole lot more.''

FIU closed out the season winning three of its last four games – one of the wins was an upset of South Alabama, the conference's top team.

In the first meeting with FAU this season Dec. 28, FIU lost 68-66 on a corner jumper by FAU's DeAndre Rice with five seconds left. FAU controlled the second meeting 85-78 on Feb. 10.

Now the winner moves on to the Cajundome in Lafayette, La., for a quarterfinal meeting with Western Kentucky on Sunday night.

''These kids have never ever, ever quit on us,'' Rouco said. 'And they've had many an opportunity to quit. `This guy is not here, that guy is hurt. We don't have a center blah, blah, blah.' It's the character of the kids we have.''

? The FIU women's team hosts Troy in a Sun Belt Women's Tournament first round game at 7 tonight at FIU's Pharmed Arena. Unlike the men, the FIU women struggled to close the regular season losing four in a row.

''Everybody has to get their mindset that this could be the last game,'' senior center Lasma Jekabsone said. ``There is nothing to say.''
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SunBelt First Round: FIU Cheers rematch

I read that this morning also, it's funny the moderators on the FIU board kept telling me that there was no rivalry and it was "just FAU" but apparently their sports teams disagree with them. ;D

This should be a great game, we both have everyone back.

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