FIU (0-1) vs. Youngstown State (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: KSU Convocation Center (4,792) -- Kennesaw, Georgia. Television: None. Home Record: FIU 0-0, YSU 0-0. Away Record: FIU 0-0, YSU 0-0. Neutral Record: FIU 0-1, YSU 1-0. Conference Record: FIU 0-0, YSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Kennesaw State Men's Basketball Tournament continues on Saturday afternoon, as the Youngstown State Penguins take on the FIU Panthers.
FIU began its campaign with an opening-round bout against Eastern Kentucky on Friday. After running out to an early lead, the team came unraveled as the game went on, falling behind by as many as 30 on the way to an 83-61 setback. It was a disappointing start for the Panthers, who went 18-14 a season ago while advancing all the way to the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship game.
Youngstown State was more successful in its season opener, as it dismissed the host team Kennesaw State, 73-57. The Penguins opened the campaign on the right foot in their attempt to improve upon last season's 18-16 mark, which was their best record in more than a decade.
This matchup marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
The Panthers got off to a cold start on Friday, as they shot just 35.1 percent from the floor, including 4-of-14 from 3-point range, in the blowout loss to Eastern Kentucky. They had ample opportunity to make up for their shooting woes with a busy night at the free-throw line, but they managed to connect on fewer than half of their attempts (17-of-35). Tymell Murphy led the way with a double-double consisting of 14 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks, and lines like that figure to show up frequently for a forward who put up outstanding numbers a season ago (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.1 bpg). Rakeem Buckles also had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards. Raymond Taylor added 11 points, but the rest of the roster (nine players) totaled only 23 points on 6-of-29 from the floor.
The Penguins may not have gotten off to an ideal start in terms of shooting the ball -- they made a modest 24-of-60 (.400) from the floor -- but they cruised to an easy win thanks to an impressive effort at the defensive end by limiting Kennesaw State to less than 35 percent shooting while forcing 19 turnovers. Kendrick Perry was the Horizon League's second-leading scorer last season with 17.3 ppg, and he picked up right where he left off by pouring in 20 points on 7-of-13 from the field. Perry was far from a one-trick pony, however, stuffing the stat sheet with seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block. Ryan Weber drilled 4-of-5 3-point tries on his way to 18 points, while Kamren Belin and Marcus Keene poured in 10 points apiece. YSU made the most of its opportunities at the foul line, connecting on 19-of-21 free throws.
While FIU, led by Murphy, has a solid foundation in the frontcourt, it showed in yesterday's loss that it lacks the guard play to keep pace with more athletic teams out on the perimeter, which Youngstown State certainly qualifies as one. Perry should have his way once again as the Penguins move to 2-0.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Youngstown State 74, FIU 68
11/09 10:38:43 ET