PREVIEW: FGCU Looks to Show Improvement Against Lipscomb – 1/4

After dropping the first game of the conference season to Liberty (15-1, 0-1), FGCU (3-13, 0-1) reopens the nest for a game against Lipscomb (6-8, 1-0) on Saturday, 1/4. Last year, the Bisons possessed a talented, senior-laden team that was really the only answer to Liberty. Their story this year is much different, of course. The play makers of old are gone and their head coach got a promotion. The Bisons feature only 2 seniors on their roster and only 4 total upperclassmen. Coach Lennie Acuff enters his first year with Lipscomb. So far, the young team has had its ups and downs on the way to a 6-8 record. They opened conference play with a 66-63 win against Stetson. Below we will take a look at some of the Bisons who could make an impact in the game, go over some of the potential matchups, and give our outlook and predictions for the game.

The Players

KJ Johnson (#0)

Johnson is already among the favorites for ASUN Freshman of the year. He has played in 14 games, making 9 starts, and leads the Bisons with 15 points per game. He also averages 2 assists and 3 rebounds per contest in 26 minutes. Johnson is on the smaller side at 6’1″ / 154 lbs but can really do it all. He is a lethal shooter (49% from the floor and 38% from 3) with excellent handles and the ability to consistently create his own shot whether driving to the basket or spotting up.

Ahsan Asadullah (#23)

Asadullah is an absolute force to deal with down low. He is a 6’8″ / 265 lb sophomore. As a freshman, he impressed with averages of 7 points and 5 rebounds while playing in every game. This year, Asadullah has played in 13 games, making 12 starts, and is getting 26 minutes a night. He holds averages of 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists per game.

Andrew Flemming (#2)

Flemming is one of two seniors on this roster. He has played in every game this year, making 13 starts. At 6’5″ / 205 lbs, he has good size for a guard his position. Currently he is averaging 10 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds while shooting 47% in about 25 minutes per game.

Michael Buckland (#3)

Buckland is the other senior on this team and has established himself as a deadly shooter over the course of his career. He has made 11 starts this year, playing about 31 minutes per game. Buckland is 6’5″ and about 200 lbs. This season he is averaging 9 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds while shooting 46% from the floor and 41% from 3.

Parker Hazen (#13)

Hazen is a 6’7″ / 200 lb junior. He has played in all 14 games, making 7 starts. In just 18 minutes per games, Hazen is posting averages of 4 points and 5 rebounds. He does not shoot the ball very efficiently at 36% but he has been a reliable, consistent forward for the Bisons.

The Matchups

Guards

Lipscomb has an impressive group of guards. They are led, in the backcourt, by the freshman, Johnson, along with their 2 seniors, Flemming and Buckland. Greg Jones (So), Jake Wolfe (So), and Miles Miller (rFr) all get significant minutes as well. FGCU is obviously a very guard-heavy team right now as well. Sophomores Zach Scott and Caleb Catto lead the team with 11 and 10 points per game, respectively. Junior transfer Jalen Warren is next in line with 9 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Sam Gagliardi has come on strong since returning from a concussion and has scored in double figures for 2 straight games.

Forwards

Both teams lack a lot of reliable depth at the forward spot. Of course Lipscomb has a real monster in Asadullah that FGCU does not have. Beyond him, the Bisons really only have Parker Hazen (6’7″) and Kaleb Coleman (6’6″) who get much playing time (18 and 9 minutes respectively). FGCU is led by Justus Rainwater who is averaging 6 points and 6 rebounds per game thus far. He is touted for his defense in the low post bad is consistently tasked with going against the opposition’s bear big. This game will be no different. The 6’9″ / 260 lb Brian Thomas will also be there to help as he continues to build up his conditioning. Beyond those individuals are senior, Tracy Hector and freshmen, Dakota Rivers and Qwanzi Samuels who could make an impact.

Projected Starters

FGCULipscomb
Jalen Warren (#5) – GAndrew Flemming (#2) – G
Caeb Catto (#2) – GKJ Johnson (#0) – G
Sam Gagliardi (#15) – GGreg Jones (#1) – G
Tracy Hector Jr (#13) – FMichael Buckland (#3) – G
Justus Rainwater (#32) – FAhsan Asadullah (#23) – F

The Outlook

FGCU is still in search of their first win over a D-I opponent in over 6 weeks. The Eagles’ nonconference schedule was notably difficult, especially with the unexpected injuries and an abundance of newcomers to the team. FGCU really needs a win here to show they have begun to turn the corner and can compete in the ASUN this year.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (13-3)

“FGCU’s defense has looked better but turnovers are still a huge problem. Until there is improvement in that area and/or they get another win, I’m picking against us.” – Elliott

75-65 – Lipscomb

Russell Kelly (9-7)

“FGCU needs a win here but it’s hard to give it to them looking at how the season has gone. I expect a close, low scoring game, by NCAA standards.” – Russell

64-60 – Lipscomb

Dawson Jordan (9-7)

“The Eagles are showing slight signs of improvement and I think they can pull out a tough on here at home.” – Dawson

73-69 – FGCU

Bryan Genter (9-7)

I think we lose to an 6-8 Lipscomb team that has been pretty competitive in most of their games this season. But I think it’s going to be closer than it would’ve been if we played them a month ago.”

78-72 – Lipscomb

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