PREVIEW: Eagles Head Home for a Clash with JU – 2/27

FGCU (9-20, 6-8) is heading home for the final 2 games of the season, starting with a rematch against Jacksonville (13-16, 6-8). Earlier this season, the Eagles played the Dolphins on the road and wound up with a 63-61 victory. At this point, both squads are in a 3-way tie for 5th place, along with UNA (FGCU’s next/final opponent), with only 2 games remaining in the conference regular season. These games are extremely important regarding seeding. Losses in either (or both) of these games could be the difference between playing a team like Lipscomb (13-15, 8-7) or a team like Liberty (26-3, 12-2). Below, we will take a look at some of the impact players for the Dolphins, go over some potential matchups, and give our outlook and predictions for the game.

The Players

David Bell (#3)

Bell is a 6’10” / 225 lb redshirt senior. He is in his second season at Jacksonville after transferring from Ohio State. He has played and started 28 games for the Dolphins, averaging about 25 minutes a night. Bell is extremely efficient and dominant on both ends of the floor. He is averaging 12 points a game on 60% shooting and is surprisingly skilled from the charity stripe (74%). Maybe most impressive though are the 10 rebounds that he averages per game. Against the Eagles, Bell was limited to 10 points and 4 rebounds.

Destin Barnes (#23)

Barnes is a 6’7″ / 215 lb junior and a versatile guard/forward combo. He is in his first year with the Dolphins after transferring from FSW, where he played for one year. He has wasted no time in proving himself to the team. Barnes has started all 29 games for Jacksonville and is currently averaging 12 points and 3 rebounds. Last time versus FGCU, Barnes exploded for 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Aamahne Santos (#10)

Santos is a 5’10” / 165 lb redshirt senior and point guard for the Dolphins. He is in his 2nd season at Jacksonville after joining the team last year and starting 31 games. This season he has started all 29 games to date and currently averages 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists. Earlier this year, Santos was neutralized against FGCU, scoring only 2 points.

Kevin Norman (#0)

Norman is a 6’4″ / 200 lb junior forward for the Dolphins. He is in his first season at Jacksonville after transferring from community college. On the season, he has played in all 29 games, making 12 starts. For his shorter size, he is an excellent defender and can capitalize on larger, and subsequently slower, players using his unique speed and athleticism. Currently he is averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds per game. Last time against the Eagles, he was held to just 6 points.

DeAnthony McCallum (#5)

McCallum is a 6’4″ / 180 lb senior guard. He has played in all 29 games this year, making 27 starts. On the season he is averaging 8 points and 3 rebounds while playing in 24 minutes a game. While he is not a typical scorer, he is known to get hot. This is evidenced by his 44% shooting from the floor and 44% from downtown. Last time against FGCU, he was limited to 7 points and went 0-3 from beyond the arc.

Mo Arnold (#14)

Arnold has been a promising freshman for the Dolphins. The 6’2″ / 180 lb guard has flashed throughout the season and is starting to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches. He has played in all 29 games and has made 11 starts, including the last 9 games. Whether by coincidence or not, Jacksonville is 5-4 since giving Arnold the keys to the car. On the season, he is averaging about 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Since becoming the full-time started, however, he is averaging 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Against the Eagles, Arnold scored finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The Matchups

Guards

Jacksonville features a well balanced backcourt. They have promising freshmen in Diante Wood and Mo Arnold as well as reliable seniors in DeAnthony McCallum and Aamahne Santos. None of these players have been consistent, primary scoring threats for the Dolphins though. However, each of them has the ability to lead their team on a given night. For FGCU, Caleb Catto has be an absolute force throughout the second half of the season. In ASUN play, he is averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists per outing. His size, in combination with his skill set, makes him a tough matchup for the smaller group of guards that Jacksonville possesses. In addition to Catto, Zach Scott and Jalen Warren have stepped up their play to a degree. Last time against the Dolphins, these 3 players put up a combined 49 points on the way to victory.

Forwards

Jacksonville has some quality bigs on their squad. David Bell is a load for them at 6’10” and averages 12 points and 10 rebounds a game. Destin Barnes adds 12 points per game of his own but is less of a factor on the boards. Bryce Workman is a solid backup who provides efficient and impactful minutes in relief of Bell. A bulk of the Dolphins scoring comes from these forwards which is not something that can be said for FGCU. The Eagles’ workhorse is Justus Rainwater who is a lock to get between 5 and 10 points and/or rebounds per game. Next to him has been Tracy Hector Jr at the “4”. Hector Jr has battled a season long injury but has been a source of consistency for this young team. In their most recent game, the Eagles elected to play small though with Hector Jr coming off the bench. Still, he has had a knack for contributing in whichever way the team needs him to on a given day. Brian Thomas provided a lot of muscle for the Eagles last time these teams played and could do so again in this one. Dakota Rivers had an explosive performance in FGCU’s most recent game, finishing with 10 points and 13 rebounds for his first career double-double. Rivers could see more action after a strong showing like this.

Projected Starters

FGCUJU
Jalen Warren (#5) – GAamahne Santos (#10) – G
Zach Scott (#1) – GMo Arnold (#14) – G
Cyrus Largie (#4) – GDeAnthony McCallum (#5) – G
Caleb Catto (#2) – GDestin Barnes (#23) – F
Justus Rainwater (#32) – FDavid Bell (#3) – F

The Outlook

As stated FGCU is in a supremely tight race for conference seeding and finishing 8-8 in conference starts with a win in this game. Both teams need a win here so it will be about who wants it more and and who comes out hot and maintains that intensity. Both teams are coming off of a win as well. If a couple of Eagles can find a groove offensively and contain the skilled Dolphin bigs, FGCU can walk out of Alico with a victory and with their eyes set fully on the next game.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (22-7)

“FGCU has a chance to finish strong and win both of these next 2 games. However, I’m not confident that it will happen. FGCU steals a tight on here at home.” – Elliott

68-65 – FGCU

Russell Kelly (17-12)

“The Eagles need a sweep of the Dolphins here and I think (hope?) they get it done.” – Russell Kelly

60-58 – FGCU

Dawson Jordan (16-13)

“The Eagles beat the Dolphins ast time on the road and I think they will do it again here in Alico.” – Dawson

65-60 – FGCU

Bryan Genter (17-12)

“FGCU hasn’t been consistent this year but neither has Jacksonville. The Eagles will win this one.” – Bryan

69-63 – FGCU

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