Men's Hoops Preview: FIU @ FAU
FIU (7-16, 4-6) @ FAU (11-10, 7-3)
When: Saturday, Jan. 30th - 7:00PM EST
Where: Boca Raton, FL - The Burrow
Live Video: None
ESPN 760 Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: None
FIU Team Site: Here
G Steven Miró 3.0 ppg
F Marlon Bright 9.5 ppg
F Marvin Roberts 16.3 ppg
F J.C. Otero 7.6 ppg
F Cedric Essola 3.7 ppg
G Ray Taylor 14.6 ppg
G Alex Tucker 5.5 ppg
G Greg Gantt 15.4 ppg
G Sanchez Hughley 10.0 ppg
F Brett Royster 9.5 ppg
Saturday's contest will be the 25th meeting between the two programs. FIU currently enjoys a 14-9 advantage, but was required to vacate one victory due to NCAA sanctions. The Panthers won both of last season's meetings, including a 80-53 win at home on Feb. 28th.
The game will draw what is likely to be the largest crowd on hand thus far this season, and one that is expected to be near capacity. FAU Arena recently underwent renovations that have reduced the amount of set seats from 5,000 to that of just over 2,600.
FIU at a Glance
The Panthers are coming off a 96-81 win against Arkansas Little-Rock last Saturday night. It was the first time since Jan. 8, 2000 that FIU posted 90 or more points against a Sun Belt opponent. Junior forward Marvin Roberts led all scorers with 28 points, and is currently third in scoring in the league with 16.3 ppg.
"I think, collectively, we're starting to really understand the things that we're suppose to do offensively. We put the ball in the hole and we shot well and that's the difference in the game", said FIU Head Coach Isiah Thomas.
Thomas, who has been surrounded by numerous off-the-court controversies, is in his first season as a head college coach after having served as an NBA head coach for the New York Nicks (187-233, 45.6%).
The Panthers generally employ a non-traditional starting line-up which features four forwards and one guard. This is obviously not by choice, but Thomas has done a decent job of getting production from a limited roster while exceeding expectations within league play up until this point. However, given FAU's four guard set, they may go smaller come game time.
Florida International leads the Sun Belt in steals with 8.3 swipes per outing, but is dead last in three point percentage at a balmy 27.0%.
FAU at a Glance
The Owls posted their fourth road win of the season in a 70-59 win over South Alabama on Thursday at the Mitchell Center. The victory also marked the fourth straight overall win for FAU.
Greg Gantt was once again the Owls leading scorer with 21 points. He's been quite impressive lately with an average of 19.7 points over the last seven contests and a Sun Belt best 2.9 treys per game.
But Mike Jarvis is quick to point out that he is not limited to just the long ball.
"He's not just a three point shooter. He can get offensive rebounds, and can post up a little bit. What he's gonna have to work on is moves off the dribble. Then he'll have a pretty complete package", said Jarvis.
Taking on USA, the team played its only mid week Sun Belt road game that will be followed by a home contest since changes were made to league scheduling this year. It was a move Jarvis has praised.
"It was insane. If you were looking to Saturday, FIU will have a huge advantage because they're not even playing Thursday night. It's extra tough for us this week", Jarvis said.
Owl's Nest Prediction
Forget the schedule.
Finally a pre-game line that makes sense given the numbers.
Saturday's match-up is a big one on numerous levels and will help solidify first place in the East while providing distance against the tight race just below.
Given the atmosphere, can't expect another slow start out of the gate by FAU.
Fired up and ready to play, Owls roll easily.
And, after the drubbing FIU put on FAU the last time out, add two points on for good measure.