After a big-time win against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, the FIU Panthers welcome the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders to the Bank.
MTSU is 13-8 and had won four straight games before getting snapped by the hottest team in the nation, the FAU Owls. FIU does not usually fare well against the Blue Raiders, as they have an all-time record of 8-30 with their last game being a 71-64 loss.
Western Kentucky Recap
After suffering a huge loss against the Hilltoppers on January 14th, the Panthers found a way to bounce back and win at home in convincing fashion. Led by Denver Jones’ 17 points, three rebounds, and three assists, Jones was the main focus of the offense.
When you need someone to step up on other aspects of the game like steals, rebounds, and assists, you can immediately rely on point guard Arturo Dean who had a 15-point game with six rebounds, six assists, and three steals. FIU has now won back-to-back games for the first time since Charlotte and UAB a couple of weeks back.
Middle Tennessee Player to Watch
The leading scorer of the team is Eli Lawrence who is averaging 12.2 PPG, 4.2 REB, 1.5 AST, and 44.0 FG%. He’s going to be the focal point of the Blue Raiders offense, however the issue with Lawrence is his inconsistency. He will have a night where he gives you eight points as he did in the game against LA Tech and then gives you 17 points in the last game against FAU.
Inconsistency can be an issue for the leading scorer which is something that FIU should really take advantage of and know that there is a good chance that Lawrence will have a bad night.
The team leader in rebounds is Deandre Dishaman who averages 5.7 rebounds a game. Although we will get into Dishamn, this also goes to show how the Blue Raiders lack big men and are a team who doesn’t have much action in the paint. Expect Mohamed Sanogo to have a big game.
Dishman really is the team’s big man as Middle Tennessee plays small ball. Expect the Panthers to really stop Middle Tennessee in the paint with the struggles that they have there, but the three-point game is what may hurt FIU.
Keys to the Game
Control the Paint: As mentioned before, the Blue Raiders lack big men and play a lot of small ball. FIU has the opportunity to take over the paint with how dominant Mohamed Sanogo has been and the plethora of big men that FIU has. FIU also has a great ball mover in Arturo Dean who is the team leader in assists, so ball movement. to the paint won’t be an issue.
Protect the Three-Point Line: Middle Tennessee is a team that likes to shoot the three-point ball a lot. With players over 60% three-point percentage, FIU really needs to step it up on defense and make sure that the blue Raiders don’t take advantage of the three-point line, especially late in the game.
Game MVP: Elijah Lawrence
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