Pablo Hernandez | Assistant Sports Director
FIU men’s basketball is playing their first home game of the new season against the Tarleton State Texans on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 in Miami, Florida.
Coming off an 85-62 loss against the UCF Knights on Monday, Nov. 6, the Panthers started off the season with an 0-1 record.
In that game, they were outscored by 22 points in the first half alone and struggled to find a consistent source of offense throughout.
Starting that game aggressively, FIU kept the game within reach throughout the first 12 minutes. After sophomore guard Dashon Gittens made a pair of free throws, he pushed the score to 18-16 and brought them within two points.
Over the remainder of the half, they couldn’t find any offensive momentum and were only able to score five points in a nine minute span.
Defensively, the Panthers were unable to stop the Knights from scoring and allowed 25 points in the same timespan.
Junior guard Jaylin Sellers spearheaded their offensive attack and scored eight of his 12 first half points during their 25-5 run.
UCF led 43-21 entering halftime and had control of the game. FIU would’ve needed to play flawless basketball in the second half in order to make a comeback.
Despite keeping pace with their opponent, only getting outscored 42-41, the Panthers had dug too deep a hole to climb out of.
Taking a 85-62 loss, FIU’s lack of scoring and inability to rebound ultimately led to them surrendering a 23 point lead.
Unable to stop second chance points, they allowed the Knights to grab 13 offensive rebounds which resulted in 20 second chance points.
While the Panthers were able to grab nine offensive rebounds in the game, it only resulted in five second chance points. They struggled to make shots all night and finished with a 36.2% field goal percentage.
Gittens led the team in scoring and finished with 11 points on 3-12 shooting. Their only other double-digit scorer was junior guard Petar Krivokapic who finished with ten points and made four of his six shots.
Looking to get back on track, FIU looks to protect home turf and collect their first win of the new season against Tarleton State.
Vs. Tarleton State:
Entering the matchup with an 0-1 record, the Texans took a 80-50 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers on Monday, Nov. 6. In a similar fashion to the Panthers, they were severely outscored in the first half of the game.
Missing the majority of their shots, they were outscored 43-19 in the first half and eventually finished with a 33.3% field goal percentage in the game.
They struggled to defend the Cavaliers, as they allowed them to shoot 48.9% from the field and 45.5% from behind the three-point line.
Sophomore guard Devon Barnes led the team in scoring and finished with 11 points on 2-4 shooting. A large portion of his points came from the free throw line, where he made all six of his attempts.
Based on a small one game sample size, their performance against Virginia may not be indicative of how they actually play.
Last season, Tarleton State finished with a 17-17 record and averaged 71.9 points per game. They also shot the ball at a substantially higher clip, bolstering a 45.3% field goal percentage and a 34.2% three-point percentage.
If FIU wishes to leave the game victorious, they cannot underestimate their opponent and have a repeat performance as they did in their season opener.
Against UCF, they surrendered 24 turnovers and 18 fouls in the game. Sophomore guard Arturo Dean fouled out in only 20 minutes of action.
When compared to the Texans, they had 16 turnovers and 28 fouls against the Cavaliers. Four players had four fouls each and freshman guard Izzy Miles fouled out in his collegiate debut.
With the Panthers committing eight more turnovers, they must take care of the ball in this matchup.
Rebounding the ball must also be a point of emphasis, as they’ve grabbed three more rebounds than Tarleton State this season.
Heading home for the first time this season, FIU men’s basketball is taking on the Tarleton State Texans on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 in Miami, Florida.
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Ocean Bank Convocation Center and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Follow Pablo Hernandez on X: @pablitothree