Less than 3 weeks ago, FGCU was sitting at 13-9 and 3-5 in the ASUN. They had just suffered an inspirited, sobering loss to Bellarmine. The defeat was the culmination of the inconsistent play that had preceded this game. Following this low-point, the Eagles would win in OT against UCA. Then, just a couple days later, they managed a fun, come-from-behind win over Lipscomb. FGCU then won convincingly against UNA (92-60). Most recently, the Eagles came out on top in another OT thriller over Stetson, improving their record to 17-9 and 7-5 in ASUN play. Next up, the Eagles seek their 5th straight W as they face off with Kennesaw State for the 2nd time this season. Previously, FGCU suffered a tough loss to the Owls, losing 77-53. Below, we will break down part 2 of this pivotal ASUN East Division matchup.
The Owls come to Alico with an 11-14 overall record and a 6-6 record in conference. After winning 4 out of their first 5 conference games, they have dropped 5 of their last 7. Most recently, KSU has won 2 of their last 3, beating Bellarmine and UCA, but falling to UNF. The Owls are led by sophomore, Chris Youngblood. The 6’4″ guard averages nearly 14 points and 6 rebounds per game, while shooting 39% from deep. 5’10” junior guard Terrell Burden has also been a difference maker for KSU. The PG is averaging about 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists. Senior Spencer Rodgers seems to have taken a step back from last year, when he averaged more than 16 points per game. This year, the 6’4″ guard is averaging 10 points and 4 rebounds. As for big-men, the Owls get most of their production from 6’8″ / 264 lb forward Demond Robinson. The junior transfer from Murray State has thus far averaged about 9 points and 5 rebounds for the Owls. As a team, they are coached by Amir Abdur-Rahim, who is in his 3rd season at the helm.
With just 4 games to go in the regular season, this is the perfect time for FGCU to get hot and stay hot. After the highs and lows they experienced in the beginning of conference play, the Eagles now find themselves in a favorable spot for the time being. Currently. They sit at 3rd place in the East Division, which would mean at least 1 home game in the ASUN tournament. Sitting at 4th place is KSU. Those spots would flip with a loss tonight, as the Owls would hold the tie-breaker.
Leading this hot Eagles team is (you guessed it) Tavian Dunn-Martin (TDM). The savvy guard racked up more ASUN hardware this week with another POW designation. TDM is averaging nearly 21 points along with 3 rebounds and 6 assists per game. Over his last 5 games, these number increase to a ridiculous 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. TDM’s clutch shot-making and heroics have been a big part of the team’s success all season, especially over this recent stretch. Another huge factor in the Eagles’ success is Kevin Samuel. The big-man’s production has been invaluable, averaging 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game, while ranking near the top of the NCAA with a 65.2 FG%. Over his last 7 games, he is averaging 14 points, 11 rebounds, and nearly 4 blocks per game. Cyrus Largie rounds out the top scorers as the junior is averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds per game.
At this point in the season, no game is a “gimme”, especially not against a team like Kennesaw State. The Owls have won the last 2 meetings against the FGCU. Last time, the Eagles were in the midst of the aforementioned slump and suffered a beat down on the road. This time around, they get a chance to redeem that loss at home. With a win, Coach Fly and the squad will give themselves some separation in the ASUN standings. With a loss, the stakes raise with each remaining game. TDM and Samuel have been pillars for the team. Largie, Caleb Catto, Matt Halvorsen, and Austin Richie can/have each make/made huge impacts in their own right. Carlos Rosario has also come on strong as of late. In Zach Anderson’s absence, Dakota Rivers has started to see the floor again and is looking more confident and comfortable. Things seem to be rolling in the right direction for the team and a strong win over KSU would further solidify that.
Stay Tuned – Watch Party
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JOIN US for the next FGCU Men’s Hoops watch party at World of Beer in the Gulf Coast Town Center this Saturday (2/19)! The squad will be facing off against a UNF team that has gotten very hot recently. Game tips at 5PM so come out, watch some basketball with us, enjoy 10% off your bill, and maybe win a $25 WOB gift card. See flyer below: