PREVIEW: FGCU Prepares to Face Kennesaw – 2/13

FGCU (7-19, 4-7) is desperately in need of a win to kick off a strong finish to the season. After starting conference play 4-4, the Eagles began the second half with games against the top 3 teams. They managed competitive games against Stetson and UNF but still ended up with 3 losses. FGCU will now get a chance to right the ship against Kennesaw (1-22, 0-10), as the remaining 5 nonconference games are all winnable. The Owls have just 1 win on the season and have lost 14 straight games. They are under 1st-year head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, who has put together a strong recruiting class but has also dealt with a a lot of injuries. Last time these teams played, FGCU exploded offensively and would have had a 30 point win if not for playing younger guys down the stretch. The Eagles ended up winning 73-51. Despite the poor record, Kennesaw still possesses talent. Below, we will highlight their impact players, go over potential matchups, and give our predictions for the game.

The Players

Tyler Hooker

Hooker is a 5’10” / 147 lb redshirt senior guard who has been a solid player for the Owls for several years now. Last year he averaged a staggering 19 points per game. This season he has battled through some injury and missed a few games. At this point, he has played in 19 games and has reestablished himself as the leader of this team. Earlier this season, Hooker scored 13 points and hauled in 5 rebounds versus the Eagles. On the season, Hooker is averaging 14 points and 4 rebounds.

Jamie Lewis

Lewis has played in only 12 games (9 starts) since returning from injury. He is a 6’4″ / 175 lb redshirt freshman guard. Lewis has quickly made an impact for the Owls. He is currently averaging 10 points and 3 rebounds in 28 minutes per game while shooting 41% from deep. Last time against the Eagles, Lewis led the team with 20 points. Since then, he has cooled off significantly, averaging less than 7 points per game in that span.

Ugo Obineke

Obineke is a 6’6″ / 191 lb sophomore. He has started 19 games this year, playing 28 minutes per outing. Currently, he is averaging 9 points and 3 rebounds. Obineke is versatile and can play some on the wing as well, although his percentages have dipped. He is shooting 37% from the floor and 25% from 3. Last time against FGCU, Obineke finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

Bryson Lockley

Lockley is the last significant contributor that is expected to be available for the Owls. He is a 6’8″ / 208 lb forward and redshirt senior. He has played in 23 games, making 20 starts and playing 30 minutes per contest. In those minutes, he is averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds. Against the Eagles, he was shut down, finishing with only 2 points and 2 rebounds.

The Matchups

Guards

Kennesaw State’s top end production is definitely guard based. An injury to Freshman, Terrell Burden has made them shorthanded though. Still Tyler Hooker and Jamie Lewis are more than capable of taking over a game, should they get too hot. FGCU’s backcourt has solidified itself as the main cog in the engine of the Eagles’ offense. Caleb Catto has emerged as a leader and consistently contributes in really every way possible. Jalen Warren has had a strong conference season. Zach Scott has responded well since returning to the starting lineup. His perimeter shot has not been falling but Kennesaw may be the perfect opponent to turn that around. The Eagles have the clear advantage here from a production standpoint.

Forwards

Ugo Obineke is a uniquely sized forward at 6’6″ and shy of 200 lbs. His versatility makes him a tough matchup for any team. Bryson Lockley is the closest thing to a true big that has had any impact for the Owls and projects to be available for the game. Armani Harris has been unavailable due to injury. Antonio Spencer provides some size at 6’9″ / 233 lbs. He averages 4 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. The Owls have been extremely thin at the forward spots. FGCU has the clear advantage here from just a bodies standpoint, let alone production. Any number of Eagles have a chance to make a big impact in this one.

Projected Starters

FGCUKSU
Jalen Warren (#5) – GTyler Hooker (#4) – G
Zach Scott (#1) – GJamie Lewis (#12) – G
Caleb Catto (#2) – GUgo Obineke (#15) – F
Tracy Hector Jr (#13) – FBryson Lockley (#24) – F
Justus Rainwater (#32) – FAntonio Spencer (#23) – F

The Outlook

With 3 straight losses to the top 3 teams in the conference, FGCU needs this game to be a tone-setter for the rest of the season. Kennesaw has just 1 win on the season and the Eagles have the advantage in basically every way. Still, FGCU will need their shots to fall at a rate that is more frequent than in recent games. As long at the Owls aren’t taken lightly, the Eagles have a great opportunity to get some guys going and build confidence within the team going forward.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (20-6)

“I think it’s going to be too close for comfort, but FGCU will find a way to win. A loss here against a 1-22 team would have more fans calling for heads.” – Elliott

72-67 FGCU

Russell Kelly (16-10)

“FGCU needs a big win and this one should provide that. Still, the Eagles can’t afford to take any team lightly.” – Russell

70-54 – FGCU

Dawson Jordan (15-11)

“I expect FGCU to dominate this game and hopefully light a spark that fuels the team for the remainder of the season” – Dawson

Bryan Genter (15-11)

“This is a game that should be won with ease and if not, that’s a big problem.” – Bryan

71-55 – FGCU

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