Florida Gulf Coast (10-20) at (21) Marquette (21-7)
Tuesday, March 4th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bradley Center (18,600) -- Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Television: Local. Home Record: Florida Gulf Coast 4-7, Marquette 14-2. Away Record: Florida Gulf Coast 5-12, Marquette 5-4. Neutral Record: Florida Gulf Coast 1-1, Marquette 2-1. Conference Record: Florida Gulf Coast 6-10, Marquette 11-6. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: It is Senior Night at the Bradley Center, as the 21st-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles take a break from Big East action and play host to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Marquette had built up some momentum heading down the homestretch of the season, but had a five-game win streak halted on Saturday, with a heartbreaking 70-68 overtime loss to nationally-ranked Georgetown. The setback dropped the Golden Eagles to 21-7 overall and 11-6 in Big East play. Florida Gulf Coast plays out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, but this game will represent the season-finale for the Eagles, as they are still under the reclassification process and are ineligible for postseason play of any kind. The team hasn't fared that well this year, losing two-thirds of its games overall (10-20), with a 6-10 league ledger. Florida Gulf Coast did end a four-game skid on Saturday, with a 74-71 overtime victory against North Florida. This is the first-ever meeting between these two teams.
The Eagles shot a mere .382 from the floor in the game against North Florida, but got a supreme effort from Casey Wohlleb, who erupted for a career-high 29 points in the win. Wohlleb converted 9-of-19 shots from the floor and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line, while completing a remarkable performance with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Florida Gulf Coast is not a powerhouse offensively, as the team is converting a pedestrian 41.9 percent from the floor, leading to just 66.9 ppg. The defensive effort, or lack thereof has been a reason for concern as well, with the Eagles allowing foes to shoot a steady 46.4 percent from the field, while putting up 74.0 ppg. Wohlleb is clearly the top offensive threat, leading the team and ranking fourth in the Atlantic Sun in scoring at 17.0 ppg. Landon Adler and Adam Liddell are the other top scoring threats at 11.6 and 10.6 ppg, respectively.
Marquette has done well at the offensive end of the court for the most part this season. The Golden Eagles are shooting a steady 45.4 percent overall, including 36.1 percent from behind the arc and 70.6 percent from the free-throw line. The result has been an impressive 76.7 ppg. The team enjoys scoring balance, with four of the five starters boasting double-digit averages. Junior guards Dominic James and Jerel McNeal are a formidable backcourt tandem. James currently leads the team in scoring and assists with 13.6 points and 4.3 assists per outing. McNeal is hot on his trail in both categories, adding 13.5 ppg and 3.9 apg. Lazar Hayward is a solid young forward, as the 6-6 sophomore averages 13.0 ppg and a team-high 6.3 rpg. Junior Wesley Matthews rounds out the team's viable scoring options with 11.3 ppg. Matthews tied his career-high with 22 points over the weekend, but it was not enough, as Marquette fell by two points in overtime to the Hoyas. McNeal added 17 points and James chipped in 15, but an 11-point second half lead evaporated and Marquette was unable to get past Georgetown.
Florida Gulf Coast isn't ready to give a top-25 program a run for its money. Marquette could use this game as more of a tuneup, as the Big East Tournament looms large next week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marquette 91, Florida Gulf Coast 53
03/04 10:24:08 ET