Men’s Basketball Looking Ahead To Opener At Mississippi State

Junior Guard Isaiah Banks as his team watches the three-point contest. Indya Vassell/PantherNOW

Following a 20-14 season for the 2018-2019 campaign, the FIU Panthers Men’s Basketball team is slated to face Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi, Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 8:00 P.M. at Humphrey Coliseum. The Panthers are expecting a tough matchup against the Bulldogs, who were ranked as high as 14th in the nation last year.

Coach Ballard states that the Panthers addressed making improvements in shooting this year, through recruiting and skill development.

Jonathan Nunez is one of those recruits, who shot well from behind the arc in high school. Nunez was a key piece in securing Doral Academy’s first 7A state title, for the state of Florida.

 Coach Ballard noted that his defense was excellent at forcing turnovers, with a nation-leading 19.6 turnovers forced per game. But he emphasized he wants to be able to achieve defensive stops in more ways than that.

Freshmen Kenny Isord and Dante Wilcox were both excellent on the defensive end in high school and will help Coach Ballard achieve those goals.

However, Coach Ballard also wants to take care of the ball better than last season. While the Panthers did lead the nation in turnovers forced, they averaged 14 turnovers per game which was 5th worst out of the 14 teams in Conference USA.

FIU led the conference in scoring, but they also go into this season without their former leading scorer Brian Beard Jr., who averaged 17.4 PPG.

Devon Andrews, who was named to the C-USA preseason team, is expected to lead the team in scoring now.

Coach Ballard recognized the challenge ahead of the Panthers, and is excited to compete against Mississippi State next Tuesday.