PREVIEW: FGCU Set for Opening Round Clash with Lipscomb – 3/3

After wrapping up the regular season with a tough OT loss, 6th seed FGCU (10-21, 7-9) will test their mettle against surprise 3rd seed, Lipscomb (14-15, 9-7). The Bisons had an extremely hot finish to the season, beating liberty and going 6-1 in their last 7 games with the only loss coming to UNF by just 8 points. The Eagles looked as good as they have all season in their last few games, going 2-1 to finish the season. These teams split the regular season series 1-1, with FGCU winning the first one at home 68-61 and Lipscomb taking the second 64-54. For the 3rd time this season, we will break down the Bisons’ impact players, go over potential matchups, and give our predictions for the game.

The Players

KJ Johnson (#0)

Johnson has had a very good freshman year but cooled off a bit during ASUN play. He has played in 29 games, making 16 starts. He is second on the team with 12 points per game while playing about 26 minutes a night. Johnson is on the smaller side at 6’1″ / 154 lbs but can really do it all. He is a lethal shooter (45% from the floor and 34% from 3) with excellent handles and the ability to consistently create his own shot whether driving to the basket or spotting up. Johnson failed to make much of an impact versus FGCU this season, averaging just 4.5 points in those two games. Still, he has been a big part of Lipscomb’s success at times this year

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 28 games, making 27 starts, and is playing 30 minutes a night. He is probably a top-2 candidate for ASUN POY as he holds averages of 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Asadullah completely dominated the Eagles this season. In the first game, he ended up with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. The second game was only marginally better for FGCU as he finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Andrew Fleming (#2)

Fleming is one of two seniors on the Lipscomb roster. He has played in 29 games this year, making 28 starts. At 6’5″ / 205 lbs, he has good size for a guard. In the season, he has averaged 9 points, and 4 rebounds while shooting 43% in about 25 minutes per game. Fleming’s production against FGCU this year has been a mixed bag. He torched the Eagles the first time around, finishing with 18 points and 7 rebounds on 5-9 from beyond the arc. In the most recent game though, he was unable to really get going and scored just 5 points.

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 26 starts this year, playing about 35 minutes per game. Buckland is 6’5″ and about 200 lbs. This season he has averaged 11 points, 3 assists, and 5 rebounds while shooting 47% from the floor and 42% from 3. Buckland played a solid game against FGCU earlier in the year, finishing with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He put up a goose egg against the Eagles more recently. Buckland is a constant threat to demoralize an opponent if he gets hot from beyond the arc.

Greg Jones (#1)

Jones is a 6’3″ / 195 lb sophomore guard. He has played in 26 games, making 22 starts. In 26 minutes per game, Jones has posted averages of 9 points and 3 rebounds. He is currently shooting 43% from the floor and 35% from beyond the arc. Jones managed only 1 point first time these teams played. The second time around, he proved to be the the main catalyst behind the Bison victory as he poured in 24 points in 4-7 shooting from 3.

The Matchups

Guards

Lipscomb is another team that plays a smaller brand of basketball, with a lot of guards. In that mold, they have a number of different players who can go off on a given night. Seniors Buckland and Flemming pose as problem when they get going from beyond the arc. Johnson and Jones have that potential as well. FGCU boasts a talented backcourt featuring Caleb Catto, Zach Scott, and Jalen Warren. It could be important for a guy like Sam Gagliardi to spark some hot perimeter shooting early in the game that can fuel the Eagles’ momentum. Based on the seniority and shooting ability that Lipscomb has, FGCU will need to bring the intensity and toughness they have displayed recently in order to limit the Bison’s scoring.

Forwards

Lipscomb lacks a lot of depth among their bigs. Unfortunately for a lot of their opponents, this hasn’t slowed them down. The Bisons play somewhat small, overall, but there is nothing small about Asadullah. He is a monster down low and has been a problem for nearly every team. A combination of Justus Rainwater and Brian Thomas will be tasked with trying to neutralize his production. Despite the lack of depth behind him, Asadullah dominated both meetings and, based on that, has the clear advantage here.

Projected Starters

FGCULipscomb
Jalen Warren (#5) – GGreg Jones (#1) – G
Zach Scott (#1) – GMiles Miller (#25) – G
Caeb Catto (#2) – GAndrew Fleming (#2) – G
Tracy Hector Jr (#13) – FMichael Buckland (#3) – G
Justus Rainwater (#32) – FAhsan Asadullah (#23) – F

The Outlook

In a Twitter poll, we (Screecher Report) recently asked which opening round ASUN matchup is most likely to feature an upset? #6 FGCU over #3 Lipscomb was the overwhelming favorite. It’s easy to assume that fans would be inclined to vote in such a way, but there are many in the fan-base who have had little faith in these Eagles and still feel this way. Looking at it as objectively as possible. FGCU is the only team that beat their opponent in the regular season. Lipscomb had an extremely strong finish to the regular season but FGCU definitely still has a chance. If the Eagles can harness the same intensity they have found late in the season and couple it with smart play and any bit of hot shooting, they can really make some noise and shake up the tournament.

The Predictions

Elliott Kresse (23-8)

“I believe FGCU will provide some early March magic and upset the Bisons on their home court.” – Elliott

69-64 – FGCU

Russell Kelly (18-13)

“I truly believe FGCU has a good and real chance to steal this game. Still I think Lipscomb, on their home court, will be able to hold off what the is sure to be a gritty performance from the Eagles.” – Russell

65-60 – Lipscomb

Dawson Jordan (17-14)

“Because they split, I want to believe that FGCU can get it done.” – Dawson

70-65 – FGCU

Bryan Genter (18-13)

“My heart says that FGCU wins, but my head says they don’t. Eagles lose a tight game.” – Bryan

66-63 – Lipscomb