FIU (12-12) at TX-San Antonio (7-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 13, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UTSA Convocation Center (4,080) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: FIU 8-4, UTSA 6-6. Away Record: FIU 3-6, UTSA 1-9. Neutral Record: FIU 1-2, UTSA 0-0. Conference Record: FIU 4-5, UTSA 3-6. Series Record: TX-San Antonio leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A pair of the Conference USA's newcomers will collide on Thursday as the FIU Panthers take on the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at the Convocation Center.
Coach Anthony Evans and his Panthers came up just short of an upset on Saturday as they were narrowly edged, 70-68, by Middle Tennessee in Miami. The Panthers faced a nine-point deficit at the intermission after the Blue Raiders outscored them, 24-14, in the paint over the opening 20 minutes, but shot just under 52 percent from the floor in the second half to rally back. FIU's loss dropped it back to the .500 mark on the season and to a 4-5 C-USA record. The Panthers are netting 68.2 ppg on 44.9 percent shooting from the field on the campaign. They are ranked 58th among Division I schools with 37.7 rpg.
UTSA is coming off of an 81-71 loss at East Carolina which marked the school's third-straight setback. The Pirates set a new season-high for an opponent with 29 made free-throw attempts and limited the Roadrunners to a mere 6-of-21 shooting from beyond the arc in the contest. Coach Brooks Thompson's team is fourth in C-USA games in points per game (72.6), but is also ranked last in league action in scoring defense with an allowance of 78.9 ppg.
This will be just the second encounter in history between FIU and UTSA. The Roadrunners defeated the Panthers, 71-65, on Nov. 17, 2001 in Miami to claim a 1-0 series lead.
Rakeem Buckles, Tymell Murphy, Dennis Mavin and Jerome Frink have all played vital roles for FIU on the offensive end recently. The four Panthers accounted for 64 of the team's 78 points in their win over UAB last Thursday and all but 12 of FIU's 68 points over the weekend. Frink paced the Panthers versus Middle Tennessee with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Mavin added 15 points while Buckles and Murphy scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. Murphy has been sensational throughout the 2013-14 campaign en route to a team-high 16.5 ppg, which he accompanies with 7.9 rpg and 1.5 blocks per tilt. Buckles is near a double-double average with 13.6 ppg and 8.9 rpg, while Mavin (11.5 ppg) is the top scoring option out of the backcourt.
UTSA has not had a consistent go-to-guy on the offensive end since beginning its first-ever tour of the C-USA. Keon Lewis, who averages a team-high 14.2 ppg, spearheaded the charge against ECU with 16 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the field. The Roadrunners also received solid contributions courtesy of Jordan Sims (14 points, four steals), Hyjii Thomas (11 points) and Phillip Jones (10 points) in the loss to the Pirates. Edrico McGregor tallied eight points, seven rebounds and six assists. Sims knocked down a trio of 3-point field goals in Greenville and ranks 28th nationally with 2.95 makes from beyond the arc per contest.
The Roadrunners have already tied their total of conference wins from the 2012-13 season with three. Since UTSA only has three home games remaining after it hosts the Panthers, it will not be taking this contest lightly. FIU has played very tough over the past few weeks and will need to maintain its focus to keep the ball rolling.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FIU 77, Texas-San Antonio 72
02/13 10:47:19 ET