FIU (0-2) at Kennesaw State (0-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 10, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: KSU Convocation Center (4,792) -- Kennesaw, Georgia. Television: None. Home Record: FIU 0-0, KSU 0-0. Away Record: FIU 0-0, KSU 0-0. Neutral Record: FIU 0-2, KSU 0-0. Conference Record: FIU 0-0, KSU 0-0. Series Record: FIU leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Either the FIU Panthers or the Kennesaw State Owls will earn their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon, as the Kennesaw State Men's Basketball Tournament comes to a close.
On the heels of an 18-14 record last season and an appearance in the Sun Belt Conference championship game, FIU has disappointed during the first weekend of the new campaign with a pair of losses. After getting blown out by Eastern Kentucky on Friday night (83-61), the Panthers saw a 13-point lead against Youngstown State with less than seven minutes to go in regulation disappear before eventually falling in overtime, 74-72.
Kennesaw State's season has gotten off to a sluggish start with losses in each of its first two games in the event. The Owls dropped a 73-57 decision to Youngstown State on Friday, then followed that up with a 68-60 loss to Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. The squad has gotten used to losing over the past few seasons, as it is now just 6-57 in two-plus seasons under head coach Lewis Preston.
FIU holds a 2-0 series lead over Kennesaw State after beating the Owls in both 2006 and 2007.
After shooting 52 percent from the field in the first half of Saturday's contest against Youngstown State, FIU made less than 36 percent of its field goal attempts in the second half and followed that up with a 1-of-8 showing in overtime on its way to the close defeat. Leading the way with a career-high- tying 20 points was Rakeem Buckles, who made it a double-double with 13 rebounds. Raymond Taylor only connected on 4-of-16 from the floor but stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals, while Dennis Mavin chipped in 11 points. The Panthers have not been sharp through two games, as they are shooting with just a 37.2 percent efficiency from the field, and they have not taken advantage of their ample opportunities from the free-throw line (31-of-55). Buckles has shined in the frontcourt with 16.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, while Tymell Murphy (11.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) has also been sturdy at forward. FIU's starting guards -- Taylor (12.5 ppg) and Mavin (8.0 ppg) -- are both shooting less than 31 percent from the floor.
Kennesaw State hung tough with a good EKU squad on Saturday, even taking a two-point lead with 14:21 left in the second half on a Yonel Brown layup, but it lost control down the stretch on its way to the eight-point defeat. The Owls shot less than 40 percent from the field, including just 4-of-19 from 3- point range, although they did have a solid showing from the foul line (18- of-24). For the second straight game, Delbert Love came off the bench to lead the team in scoring, shooting 3-of-5 from long distance and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line en route to 16 points. Bernard Morena nearly had a double- double with 13 points and nine boards, while Nigel Pruitt chipped in 10 points. On the season, Kennesaw State has managed just 58.5 points per game, which is even below its mark from 2012-13 (61.0 ppg). Love is averaging 14.5 points per game and has made six of the team's eight 3-point field goals. Morena (12.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is the only other player averaging in double figures.
FIU has clearly not played up to its potential yet, and sooner or later shots are going to start falling. Even if the Panthers struggle from the field again, they have a clear size advantage over Kennesaw State and should be able to use their physicality to finally put a notch in the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FIU 71, Kennesaw State 60
11/10 10:48:43 ET