Florida International U

FIU basketball cruises past Kennesaw State

Brick, brick, brick. Turnover. Brick, brick, brick. Turnover. Brick, brick…

That’s the rhythm the FIU men’s basketball team defense and the rim forced on Kennesaw State throughout Tuesday’s 59-38 Panthers win on replacement Lime Court at FIU Arena.

Senior guard Dennis Mavin and 6-7 junior forward Daviyon Draper led FIU in scoring with 16 points. Mavin also had a game-high eight rebounds. But FIU crushed the Owls at the defensive end of the floor.

FIU’s length and the Owls’ inaccuracy resulted in the visitors shooting 14 of 52 (26.9 percent) from the field, including four of 21 (19.0 percent) from three-point range. In the first half, Kennesaw took 31 shots and hit exactly six more than former jurist and baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis would have and he’s been dead since 1944. That’s 19.4 percent from the field. FIU didn’t even do it by rejecting Kennesaw at the rate higher courts rejected many of Landis’ most famous rulings – only one block in each half (Kennesaw had seven).

“Our 3-2 zone was working pretty well,” Draper said. “We were just being active in the zone. It was creating turnovers (nine in the first half, 15 for the game) and we were able to run off of that.”

FIU didn’t exactly burn the nets off, either. During one first half stretch, the teams went media timeout to media timeout with the score stuck on 18-11. But FIU was in the midst of holding the Owls scoreless during a 10:20 18-0 run that swung the game from 11-6, Owls to 24-11, Panthers.

Draper started the run with a pair of jumpers. He pulled down a defensive rebound, then penetrated and dished to Mavin for a 19-footer: 12-11. A pair of Gulley jumpers pushed the lead to 16-11. A beautiful spin move to a layup by Draper made it 18-11.

Meanwhile, Kennesaw shots hammered the backboard and rim with a furious futility.

“I thought Daviyon, Kris Gulley, Marco Porcher, whoever else came off the bench gave us great energy,” FIU coach Anthony Evans said. “Because we started off a little slow. Both teams were trying to find it. They got a couple of baskets in transition. Once we started to sub, that energy really helped us when we went zone.”