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Pregame Shootaround: Florida International

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Your Georgetown Hoyas are set to take on the FIU Panthers in their first game since December 21st. The game will take place at 12:00pm on December 28th at the Verizon Center, and will be available on FS1.

Get to Know Florida International.

The Big Picture.

After dropping the first two games of the season, FIU has responded strongly in winning 8 of its last 11 games. FIU currently sits 7th in the Conference USA with an overall record of 8-5.

What I learned from Wikipedia.

The school's original nickname was the "Sunblazers", but it was changed in 1987 to the "Golden Panthers," with the word "Golden" officially dropped beginning with the 2010-11 school year.

FIU is a member of Conference USA. FIU joined the Sun Belt Conference in 1998 having previously competed in the Trans America Athletic Conference (now the Atlantic Sun Conference), from 1991 to 1998. They joined Conference USA in 2013.

FIU's most notable alumnus is Mike Lowell, former third baseman of the New York Yankees, Florida Marlins, and Boston Red Sox.

FIU alumni who have played in the National Basketball Association include Carlos Arroyo and Raja Bell of the Utah Jazz.

Roster rundown. After giving all players a fair shot to start the season, Panthers head coach Anthony Evans has found his group of core guys over the past few games, giving playing time to only 8 players over the past two games.

Back court.

The Panthers backcourt was weakened earlier in the season after the NCAA investigated a draft withdrawal snafu involving guard Raymond Taylor, who was averaging 12.2 points, 6.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals before being disallowed to play. Taylor has not played in a game since November 16th. Since his departure, junior guard Dennis Marvin- 9.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.6 spg- has been the go-to man in the backcourt. Joining the starting lineup in lieu of Taylor has been freshman guard Jason Boswell, receiving an upperclassman's workload with the role. Freshman Dominique Williams and junior Marco Porcher Jiminez are arguably the Panthers top two guns off the bench.

Front court.

FIU's frontcourt has been their main strength this season. The big men are led by talented seniors Tymell Murphy- 16.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.8 bpg, 1.4 spg- and Rakeem Buckles-14.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 1.2 spg- amongst others. Sophomore starter Jerome Frink also figures to be in the mix, as he averages 9.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 1.3 apg.   

Florida International University on twitter.

What to watch when the Panthers have the ball.

  • Panther: Tymell Murphy. Murphy is a hyper efficient guard-forward combo who is a bit of a do-it-all player on the offensive end. He is currently averaging 16.8 points and 2.3 assists while shooting 61.8 percent from the field, 35.7 percent from beyond the arc and 74.6 percent from the stripe.
  • Hoya: Nate Lubick. Lubick has made me a believer. Really does a lot more than he is given credit for on the defensive end, even if his numbers don't always show it. Check him out this game and see if you agree.
  • Number. Rebounds. FIU is currently 22nd in the country at rebounding with a very solid 40.8 rebounds per game. Georgetown is on the opposite end of the spectrum, currently sitting 190th in the country with 35.5 rebounds per game. This differential might not jump out at you as overly significant, but it will most certainly show during the game.
  • Feeling delusional because... For as bad as our defense has looked at times this season, we have done a pretty good job on the whole at clogging up the paint and making it hard for opposing big men to exert themselves. Seeing as FIU's potency mostly stems from frontcourt play, I think Georgetown should be able to quell a lot of FIU's post production.
  • Feeling cynical because... I was at the Kansas game.

What to watch when the Hoyas have the ball.

  • Hoya: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. DSR looked completely out of synch over the last couple games. He is averaging 11.7 ppg- well below his 16.4 season average- and has shot a combined 10-28 over this span. He is simply too good to continue playing this bad, so look for him to do something this game to make up for his mediocre play of late.
  • Panther: Rakeem Buckles. Buckles is a blue-collar big man who should give Georgetown's frontcourt fits during this matchup. The 6-7 Louisville transfer is averaging 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals on the season.
  • Number. Field Goal %. Georgetown has been shooting the ball 48% from the field this season, good for 47th in the country. The Hoyas need to be more aggressive attacking the rim and looking to score or kick it out in order for this high shooting percentage to help them prevail.
  • Feeling delusional because... I'm guessing this is the game DSR pops off for 30 or so points, snapping his lousy recent shooting streak.
  • Feeling cynical because... Even when teams double on Josh Smith in the post we are unable to find the free man. We have yet to establish a system of effective cutters that Smith can feed when doubled. It's looking like we will need big games from DSR and Starks to beat anyone these days. It's hard to watch sometimes, honestly.

Conclusion. Georgetown should win this one pretty easily after being handled on national television by a Kansas team most of the country believed was overrated. It would be hard to imagine the Hoyas dropping two in a row, as bad as they looked last game.