Opponent: Florida International (Conference USA)
Record: 6-4 (Last game: W at Florida Gulf Coast, 69-63)
KenPom Ranking: 194
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row/Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: Second all-time meeting. FIU leads the series 1-0. FIU won only previous meeting 54-50 back in the 2001-02 season.
Projected Starting Lineups:
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Landon Atterberry (F), Nura Zanna (F)
FIU: Tashawn Desir (G), Dennis Mavin (G),Kris Gulley (G), Adrian Diaz (F), Larry Dennis (F)
The FIU Panthers come into this game with a 6-4 record with wins over Stetson, Wright State, Kennesaw State and most recently against Florida Gulf Coast.
Former Norfolk State head coach Anthony Evans is now in his second season with FIU after replacing Richard Pitino. Last season, FIU finished 15-16 and 7-9 in Conference USA.
FIU is one of the best defensive teams in Conference USA. They’re allowing 0.93 points/possession. Teams are scoring 59.4 points/game. They keep their opponents to under 41% shooting from the field. Also impressive is that they only allow teams to shoot 29.5% from three.
Where they have their difficulties is on the offensive end. They near the bottom in Conference USA in points per possession at 0.89 and are scoring just over 62 points/game. They have the worst three-point shooting percentage of any Conference USA team at 26.7%. They also turn the ball over at least 14 times per game.
The guy LIU will need to key on is senior guard Dennis Mavin. Mavin leads the Panthers in scoring (17.4 ppg) and minutes (33.3 mpg) and takes 30.6% of his team’s shots. He like to draw contact and draws over six fouls a game per 40 minutes against his opponents. At 6’3″, he also rebounds the ball well averaging 5.5 rebounds/game. He has scored in double-digits in all but one game this season as well as recorded a double-double. He has a green light to shoot and will shoot early and often.
FIU’s tallest player is 6’10” forward Adrian Diaz who is second on the team in scoring (12.0 ppg) and leads the team in rebounds (7.1 rpg), blocks (2.1 bpg) and field goal percentage (56.0%). Diaz is a transfer from Kansas State. He scored a career-high 33 points against Georgia Southern this season. He is strictly a post player, he has never even attempted a three-pointer in his career.
Other key players for FIU are 6’7″ forward Davlyon Draper (6.8 ppg/4.6 rpg), 5’10” guard Tashwan Desir (3.3 ppg/3.4 apg), and 6’7″ forward Dominique Williams (7.6 ppg/4.0 rpg).
– The spotlight in this game will be on senior forward Landon Atterberry. He has been playing well over his last three games since his two-point game against New Hampshire. He has averaging 12.3 ppg and 7.6 rpg over that span while shooting 51.8% from the floor including 5 of 8 from three. He has to stay away from foul trouble though. He fouled out against Maine last Thursday and got three fouls in the first half against NJIT on Sunday. Last season, he played well in all three LIU played at the Barclays Center. He averaged 14 ppg at the Barclays Center and last time he played there he had one of his better games of last season when he scored 20 points against St. Francis Brooklyn. He will need to continue working hard on the glass and will need to have a good defensive game against both Adrian Diaz and Dominique Williams.
– Elvar Friðriksson is currently ahead of former LIU great Jason Brickman’s freshman assist record pace through the first eight games. Friðriksson has 38 assists through eight games while Brickman has 27 through his first games back in 2010-11. It must be noted, Friðriksson has started every game for LIU this season while Brickman didn’t start a single game his freshman year. Also, Friðriksson is avergaing 32.6 mpg through eight games while Brickman averaged 16.6 mpg through eight games his freshman year. Plus, after game ten, Brickman’s pace really starts to accelerate. He only has two games where he doesn’t get at least five assists the rest of the season after game ten. Friðriksson will have to continue putting up big assist totals if he wants to challenge Brickman’s freshman assist record of 180.
– Overall, LIU Brooklyn have a 4-3 record at the Barclays Center in their first two seasons there.
– A win vs FIU would give LIU they first win of the season against a team ranked in the Top 200 of KenPom rankings. LIU is 0-5 this season vs KenPom Top 200 opponents.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Contain Dennis Mavin. This is going to be a tough defensive assignment for both Gerrell Martin and Iverson Fleming who will likely draw that responsibility. If they can hold Mavin to under 50% shooting and not give him easy looks, LIU has a good chance of winning the game.
– Stay out of foul trouble. With LIU up against 6’10” Adrian Diaz who draws 5.5 fouls/game per 40 minutes and Dennis Mavin who draws 6.3 fouls/game per 40 minutes, they will have to be mindful of staying out of foul trouble. In particularly, Landon Atterberry and Nura Zanna. Zanna leads LIU with 6.3 fouls committed per 40 minutes so he really has to play smart basketball.
– Speed up the tempo. FIU is comfortable playing at a slower pace. They play at around a 65 possessions pace. LIU wants to play at a 70 possessions or above pace. FIU is 0-2 when having to play above 70 possessions. In their last two wins, LIU played at a 69 possessions/game pace and would like to play even faster than that. The team that controls the tempo will have a big edge in this game.
KenPom Game Prediction: FIU, 64-63. LIU win probability: 47%.
LIU Brooklyn enter the final two games of the non-conference schedule and head to New Hampshire for their final road non-conference game of the season on Monday, December 22nd. This will be the second meeting between LIU and UNH this season. Tip-off time is scheduled for 7:00pm.