The Stetson men's basketball team (9-10, 6-2) will aim to extend its winning streak to six games on Friday, as the Hatters travel to Fort Myers to challenge Florida Gulf Coast (13-8, 5-3). The contest is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with coverage on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), Cox Sports Television (CST), and ESPN3.
Alone in first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings heading into Thursday night's league games, it ties Stetson for the furthest into a season that Stetson has been in first in the conference since joining the league for the 1986-87 season. In 1994-95 the Hatters started A-Sun play 7-1, and were tied with College of Charleston and Samford at the top of the standings.
"It's great for everybody that follows the Hatters that we've got something to celebrate," Stetson head coach Casey Alexander said about the recent success. "We know we've got a long way to go, but we're excited about where we are.
"We're definitely better defensively," Alexander said of the past few weeks. "Since we've started conference play, we're finding ways to get more stops, we're finding ways to put stops together, and we're not having those runs by the other team that can really deflate [you]. That's been a big part of why we're playing better."
The Hatters are fifth in the A-Sun during league games in scoring defense, holding their opponents to 69.2 points per game. During non-conference action Stetson was allowing 77.3 points per game, and is still ninth overall in the conference. Similarly, the Hatters' were allowing opponents to shoot 48.6 percent from the floor before league play began, and have since held them to 44.6 percent shooting.
That improvement will be put to the test on Friday, as FGCU leads the A-Sun in a number of categories, including points per game. The Eagles have a trio of double digit scorers in two-time A-Sun Player of the Week Sherwood Brown, Bernard Thompson, and Chase Fieler.
"Everybody knows how explosive they are," Alexander said of FGCU. "Offensively, they can really put great games together. They're talented. Even knowing what everybody's records are, if you took the poll again, everybody in the league's going to have high marks for Florida Gulf Coast, and they deserve it."
The Eagles opened the season against a wealth of talented teams, including VCU, Duke, and Miami. FGCU ended up coming away with the win against the Canes, adding to the team's stellar 10-1 record in 2012-13 while playing in the friendly confines of Alico Arena.
"We know what a challenge that's going to be for our team to go down there," Alexander concluded. "But it's nice to have a couple of road wins in our back pocket to know that we can do it."
Friday's game is tabbed the A-Sun/CSS Friday Night Game of the Week with coverage on CSS, CST, and ESPN3. The game will also be fed from CSS to ASun.TV and HatterVision with Matt Stewart and Sonny Smith on the call.
Fans can also catch the action on the radio at WSBB 1230 AM, 1490 AM, and www.MyAM1230.com with Ryan Rouse on the call. Live Stats, the @StetsonMBB Twitter feed, and Hat-Alerts are also available for in-game updates.