Panthers close out homestand against in-state rival

The men’s basketball team will look to end their three-game home stand with a matchup against rival Florida Atlantic, Saturday.

The Panthers are coming off a 68-64 win over East Carolina University and will take on the Owls for the first time as members of Conference USA.

The Owls (7-12, 2-2 C-USA) are coming off a win themselves, defeating Harvard 68-53 Tuesday night. They’re led by Pablo Bertone and Jackson Trapp, scoring an average 18.1 and 10.6 points per game, respectively.

The Panthers (10-9, 2-2 C-USA) continue to be led by senior standout Tymell Murphy, who’s averaging 16.5 points per game and a team-high 30 blocks. The team will also need the added support of redshirt senior Rakeem Buckles.

Buckles, who is listed at six feet seven inches, averages 9.4 rebounds per game. Earlier in the season Buckle ranked as high as second in the nation in total rebounds but has since dropped in the rankings and currently ranks 15 in the nation with a total 179 rebounds.

Earlier this season, the Panthers offense found its rhythm and even recorded six-straight wins, but since the team has struggled to find its identity and keep a consistent flow as they go deep into conference play.

Buckles spoke after the game against ECU and understood that despite his size advantage, points have not come easy for the Miami native.

“Today was definitely a confidence booster,” he said. “I tried to come out today and be aggressive and stay positive.”

Buckles ended the night with 18 points, going 6-of-12 from the floor, with 11 rebounds, four steals, and one block. The 18 points and 11 rebounds was also Buckles’ eighth double-double of the season.

For Head Coach Anthony Evans and the coaching staff, most of the focus is centered on the teams ability to play stout defense.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, they’ve allowed 69.7 points per game while putting up 68.2 of their own per game.

“I’m a defensive coach, so I preach using defense for better offense, Evans said. “That’s the one thing you can do, defense is a constant. If you get deflections and turnovers, they will lead to easy baskets.”

Prior to their matchup against the Pirates, the Panthers suffered one of their worst defeats in program history, losing to the Old Dominion Monarchs 52-36 on Jan 16.

The 36 points currently stands as a career low for any Panther team. The previous record was originally set back in 2008 after a 76-38 loss to Georgetown and once again in 2011 after a 73-38 loss to Middle Tennessee.

 Despite a 20 point game from Murphy, the entire Panther team shot a combined 5-of-29 from the field.

“It’s frustrating sometimes when you know you’ve got players that are capable of helping the team in multiple ways, not just scoring,” Murphy said. “It’s just tough when you’re trying to get it going and it’s not going.”

Turnovers has also been a concern for the Panthers. Currently averaging 14.4 giveaways per contest, the lack of movement has drained any momentum for the team and handed it off to their opponents.

“I think the ball is stopping too much,” Evans said. “It’s going to one person, it’s sticking instead of crisp ball movement so we could get open shots.”

As the Panthers welcome their in-state rivals, they will need the continued success of their “Batman and Robin” duo if they hope to come away with a victory.

Both the Panthers and Owls are both just a game and a half behind Old Dominion for the number one spot in Conference USA. The Owls also lost to the Monarchs earlier in the season.


About the Author

Patrick Chalvire
: Radio Host for Panther Sports Talk Live. Assistant Sports Director for The Beacon. Majoring in Communication Arts. Sports fan and aspiring anchor.

Be the first to comment on "Panthers close out homestand against in-state rival"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.