FIU basketball | vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 4 p.m.

FIU Panthers ready to take on take on new-look Florida Gulf Coast

 

The Panthers look to avenge a close loss in December to Gulf Coast, one of last year’s Sweet 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament.

 
FIU Panthers forward Jerome Fink is fouled by Texas Southern Tigers center Aaric Murray during a dunk attempt in the first half of their basketball game on Nov. 16, 2013.
FIU Panthers forward Jerome Fink is fouled by Texas Southern Tigers center Aaric Murray during a dunk attempt in the first half of their basketball game on Nov. 16, 2013.
Gregory Castillo / Miami Herald Staff

FIU vs. Florida Gulf Coast

When/Where: 4 p.m, U.S. Century Bank Arena

TV/Radio: Fox Sports 1

Teams: FGCU is 4-3. FIU is 7-4.

Of note: FIU played last year’s Sweet Sixteen opponent on even terms in a December game at Gulf Coast, losing 76-73. The Panthers have to improve from the line. Shooting 67.6 percent on free throws catches up with you in the close games. On gross rebounds, FIU’s 456 leads the nation.


dneal@miamiherald.com

Dunk City went Hollywood. What remained behind at Florida Gulf Coast visits FIU on Saturday in a nationally televised game.

Coach Andy Enfield used Gulf Coast’s run to last year’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, a run as captivating as their “Dunk City” disco-fast style, like a couple of cartoon foot springs to land at Southern California. Longtime Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley took the position Enfield vacated.

“Their personnel is probably the only thing that’s the same,” FIU coach Anthony Evans said. “They don’t run as much. They’re more structured in the half court.”

FIU’s half-court offense remains a change in progress. The eligibility limbo in which fifth-year senior point guard Ray Taylor finds himself leaves the offense in the hands of freshman Jason Boswell, a different player.

Taylor’s experienced at the college level. Boswell’s been playing college basketball for less than a month. Taylor’s 5-6 and quick. Boswell’s 6-6 with long limbs.

Sophomore center Jerome Frink scored in double figures each of the five games before Taylor’s eligibility came into question and was averaging 12.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the season. In the four games since, Frink’s averaged 5.6 points and 3.0 rebounds.

“Ray made the game easier for [fifth-year senior forward] Rakeem [Buckles], for Jerome, for everyone,” Evans said. “Ray was a smaller point guard who could get into the lane. Jason’s still trying to get a handle on the offense and running a team at the college level.”

Despite the change, FIU was rolling right along without Taylor, with two wins and a tough loss at South Carolina. Then, Division II Nova Southeastern came into U.S. Century Bank Arena and, on the beach-themed court, smoked the Panthers 77-59 like so much beach barbecue.

Nova hit 14 three-pointers.

“You have to approach the game the same way no matter who the opponent is,” Evans said. “I hope they understand that. You can’t take your opponent for granted.”

Outside the arena before the game, there will be a tailgate for students. Women’s basketball star Jerica Coley, a senior fifth in the nation in scoring, will get her No. 22 retired at halftime of the men’s game.

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