Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU men’s basketball team is hosting the Stetson Hatters in the second of three consecutive home games on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Miami, Florida.
Entering this matchup, the Panthers hold a 4-8 record after taking a 146-55 victory over the Trinity Tigers on Saturday, Dec. 16. In that game, they set multiple school records for scoring in a game, as they were able to claim a 91-point win.
From the opening tip, FIU dominated the Tigers and outscored them 57-16 over the first 14-minutes of the game. Able to keep the offense consistent throughout the first half, they held a 73-31 lead by halftime.
Their 73-points marked the most points scored in a single half in the program’s history and also set a precedent for the remainder of the game.
Through the remainder of regulation, the Panthers continued to flex their offensive muscles, as they’d expand their lead further in the second half. After staking a 42-point lead at halftime, their high scoring output began to compound.
To open up the second half, Trinity struggled to contain their opponents offensive output and were outscored 25-5 within the first six-minutes of the half.
With FIU’s scoring continuing through the remainder of the game, they eventually led by 94-points with less than two-minutes remaining in the game. Sophomore guard Jaylin Bain hit a last-second 3-pointer to cut their lead to 91-points.
After maintaining control of their opponent for the entire game, the Panthers took a 146-55 victory. Offensive efficiency was the differentiator between the two teams, as the Trinity made nearly 40% of their field goals compared to their opponent.
FIU’s total of 146-points also marked a new program record for scoring in a game, surpassing their 123-point effort against Palm Beach Atlantic in 1995.
Beyond setting team records, they also received production from every player that entered the game. All 14 players that checked into the game for the Panthers scored at least two-points.
Of those 14 players, nine posted double-figures in the scoring column, with junior guard Jaidon Lipscomb finishing with a game-high 23-points.
In his eighth appearance of the season, Lipscomb reached a career-high in points in a game after notching a career-high in his previous outing. Against FAU on Wednesday, Dec. 13, he finished with 17-points and went 5-7 from 3-point distance.
When comparing the performance of the two teams, FIU won the game through finding efficiency on both ends of the floor. Offensively, they found a rhythm and shot 64% on their field goals and 54.3% from 3-point distance.
Their high 3-point percentage did not come on a low volume either, as they made 19 of their 35 attempts and set a new season high for 3-pointers made in a game.
Looking at the Tigers’ offensive output, they shot 23.1% from the field and converted on 15 of their 65 shot attempts in the game. A large portion of their points came from free throws, as they went 21-31 on their attempts, accounting for 21 of their 55 total points.
Finding efficiency on both sides of the floor, the victory pushed the Panthers’ record to 4-8 on the season. Over their last five games, they hold a 3-2 record and claimed a majority of their wins during that span.
Following a record-breaking performance, they look to carry some of their offensive momentum into their next game against the Stetson Hatters.
Coming into this matchup, the Hatters hold a 6-5 record and are coming off an 88-80 loss to the Nebraska Omaha Durangos on Sunday, Dec. 18. In that game, they found themselves in foul trouble and hacked their opponent 27 times.
Due to their abundance of fouls, they let the Durangos shoot a total of 40-free throws. This resulted in them accumulating a total of 33-points at the free throw line, as they shot 82.5% from the line in the game.
Despite making one more field goal and five more 3-pointers, Stetson’s inability to make a defensive stop led to their demise.
Junior guard Jalen Blackmon finished with 26-points, three steals, and made three of his five 3-point attempts. This season, he leads his team in scoring, as he averages 22.1 points per game and shoots 47.7% from 3-point distance.
Outside of his contributions, senior guard Stephan Swanson added 23-points and six rebounds. He notched his personal season-high for points in a game and surpassed his 11 PPG average.
While Blackmon and Swanson combined for 49-points, they also combined for a total of nine fouls, as Swanson fouled out with five. Their high-scoring outing was spoiled by accounting for one-third of their team’s fouls.
If FIU wishes to leave this matchup victorious, they must continue their offensive production from their previous game and force their opponent into foul trouble.
On average, the Hatters commit 16 fouls per game, with the 27 foul performance increasing their season average substantially. While seeming to be an outlier of a game, they have shown the capability to be reckless defensively.
By applying pressure to their defense and attacking the paint, the Panthers can force their opponent into committing unnecessary fouls.
As a team, they take a majority of their shots within the 3-point line, as they average 8.5 made 3-pointers per game. This season, they average 28.7 made field goals per game, with 70.4% of their make coming within the 3-point line.
However, FIU also averages 19 fouls per game and allows their opponents to make 16.1 free throws per game. On the other side, they struggle to find free throw opportunities, as they only make 11.3 per game.
Playing a sound defensive game and forcing offensive pressure in the paint are the keys to the Panthers reaching victory. Not allowing Stetson’s efficient scorers to find a rhythm can play a major factor.
Attempting to follow up a record-breaking performance, the FIU men’s basketball team is taking on the Stetson Hatters on Tuesday, December 19, 2023 in Miami, Florida.
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.
Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40