Trying to find its first road win of 2016-17, the Ospreys head south to Miami with a second straight year facing Florida International University. North Florida (4-10, 0-7 road) has a good test against the Panthers, as both teams are vastly different from last season. FIU (3-9, 3-2 home) will be playing its third of a season-long five straight at home. The Panthers play on one of the most interesting home courts in the nation. All the action will be on 1010XL Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
North Florida and FIU are going head-to-head for the fifth time ever. The Panthers lead the series 3-1. At the UNF Arena last December, the #BirdsOfTrey won 94-72 with Dallas Moore leading the Blue and Gray with 21. UNF had 33 made baskets from 19 assists.
UNF’s Karlos Odum will be facing some friends of his, who he has trained with in the off-season. Odum has been getting to the free throw line. The Ospreys need his production off the bench to provide Romelo Banks and Wajid Aminu assistance in the paint.
Inside 10 feet will be significant for both sides. The Panthers’ Michael Kessens, a graduate student, is a freak rebounder. If you’re not careful, he can gobble up everything. Kessens – who spent two seasons at Alabama – had 18 points and a season-high 12 rebounds against North Florida two seasons ago with the Crimson Tide. Currently 21st in the nation for rebounds per game (10.9), UNF needs a body on him at all times.
The Ospreys are going to keep it simple, like the past two seasons. Roll with: Dallas Moore (#14), Aaron Bodager (12), Garrett Sams (11), Wajid Aminu (2) and Romelo Banks (33) for a sixth game in a row.
It’s as if every game FIU is trying a new experiment with the lineup. But this is not due to injuries, the Panthers are just trying to get in the win column. Here was the five from FIU’s last game: Donte McGill (#2), Kimar Williams (4), Eric Lockett (5), Cameron Smith (24) and Michael Kessens (0).
About the Panthers:
FIU is deep in a five-game losing streak, having already had a separate four-game skid. They struggle with playing two halves that look similar. Scoring droughts one half can be followed up with a hot streak from Donte McGill. It’s difficult to know what you can get with this team. However, hosting this game plays into their hands, and the Panthers stick around no matter how much they might trail.
Garrett Sams is showing such Beau Beech characteristics it is bonkers. He is sinking threes, getting chippy and plays like a pest. Sams – a future (give him two seasons) ASUN Player of the Year – is the ultimate “I would want him on my team, but love hating him if he’s on the other team” kind of baller.
Donte McGill will score. He does not care where he skies it. Players like this are fun to watch, even if it sometimes means it will be him producing and no one else. Dallas Moore and McGill could have a you score-I score back and forth.
How UNF Can Win:
All of the opponents from here to the close of conference play are of equal-caliber for the Ospreys. North Florida is still on an upwards trend. If they can bury threes like the past five games and make foul shots, the Ospreys should be happy over Christmas break.