FGCU Men’s Hoops Game Preview: North Florida – 2/19/22

After winning their last 5 games, FGCU (18-9 / 8-5) heads back out on the road to face UNF (9-18 / 5-8). Below we will break down the matchup.

UNF

Last time these teams squared off, it was the opening game of the conference season and the Eagles came out on top 74-67. That Osprey team was reeling after an poor non-conference showing (4-10). This time around, UNF is playing their best basketball of the season. After starting ASUN play with 6 straight losses, the Ospreys are 5-2 since then. In that time they secured wins over conference powerhouses, Liberty and Jacksonville State.

As a team, they are fairly young. Additionally they lack ideal size. The 2 tallest players (Jonathan Aybar & Jadyn Parker) stand at 6’9″ and 6’10” but their listed weights are just 183 and 180 lbs, respectively. Leading UNF is 6’1″ redshirt sophomore guard, Jose Placer. Thus far, he has averaged 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Carter Hendricksen continues to be a good player for them as well. The 6’7″ junior forward is putting up 12 points and 5 rebounds per game. Jarius Hicklen rounds out the top scorers for UNF. The 6’3″ sophomore guard is averaging 12 points per game, while shooting better than 43% from beyond the arc. UNF continues to be coached by Matt Driscoll, who is in his 13th season in the role.

FGCU Outlook

Leading the charge for the Eagles is (of course) Tavian Dunn-Martin (TDM). Through 26 games in green and blue, TDM is averaging about 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. Over his last 6 games, those averages increase to about 26 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists. Last time against UNF, he was limited to just 11 points, but dished out 12 assists to help the team to victory. You have to think that more shots will fall his way this time around. Kevin Samuel has averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots per game. Samuel has used his 6’11” / 255 lb frame to really dominate the ASUN. Over his last 8 games, he is averaging nearly 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Last time against UNF, Samuel was a major factor, scoring 16 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and blocking 5 shots. Samuel has been great pretty much all season but has come into his own recently. He’ll have another opportunity to really take advantage of his size in this one, as he will outweigh those he matches up against by upwards of 75 lbs.

Injury has started to pile up for FGCU as of late. Zach Anderson showed signs of discomfort earlier in the season and ended up missing a game (and the better part of another) because of it. Franco Miller was playing some good minutes as a defensive guard for the Eagles but went down for the season just a few games ago. Most recently, a big-time contributor Cyrus Largie exited last game early on and his status for this game and going forward is currently unknown. In Anderson’s absence, Dakota Rivers has risen to the occasion. After being a part-time starter during non-conference play, Rivers did not play for nearly 2 months. Over the last 3 games he has exhibited a new energy which has translated to improved rebounding numbers and defensive play. Most recently, Rivers made Kennesaw pay, scoring 12 points in just 15 minutes on 3-3 from beyond the arc. Austin Richie is the latest to shine for the Eagles. The vocal/emotional leader scored an FGCU career high 19 points in the win over Kennesaw State. Caleb Catto has done his part all season but seems to have found his groove recently, scoring in double figures, each of the last 3 games.

To put it bluntly, if there ever was a potential trap game, it’s right here. Per usual, UNF played an obnoxiously tough non-conference season, digging themselves into an early hole that took them half of ASUN play to get out of. Now, the Ospreys and Eagles are 2 of the hottest teams in the conference. FGCU won the last time these teams met but it won’t be as easy this time around. With revenge games against Liberty and Jacksonville coming up, taking UNF seriously is just as important. Lately, the play of FGCU has been much more consistent and that will have to continue here on the road.

Watch Party 👀

Join us at World of Beer (Gulf Coast Town Center) for an FGCU Men’s Hoops watch party! Show up, watch the game with us, receive 10% off you bill, and maybe win a WOB gift card.

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