Panthers Hope To Avoid Five Game Slide Wednesday Versus No. 23 Barry
By Florida Tech // January 19, 2016
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA- There’s no rhyme or reason behind the struggles, but in recent memory, January has typically been a month to forget for Florida Tech.
The Panthers have compiled a combined record of 8-22 in the month over the past three-plus seasons, yet have an opportunity to regain traction with a victory over 23rd-ranked Barry at the Clemente Center Wednesday night.
“This is the third straight year that January has been a nightmare for us,” said head coach Billy Mims. “We do really well in November, December. We were 3-1 on the road in this league, but now are 0-3 at home in the league.
We started off brilliantly, but now hit a skid in January. Last year, same thing. We have to find a way to get through the January doldrums, whatever it is.”
Florida Tech hasn’t lost five consecutive games since 2009-10, when it dropped seven in a row, but will need a much better all-around defensive effort if its wants a shot at upsetting a ranked Buccaneers squad for the second straight season.
During their current slide, the Panthers have allowed opponents to shoot nearly 52 percent from the floor, while giving up an average of 88.5 points per game.
The challenge only expects to get tougher Wednesday when Florida Tech faces the tall task of slowing the nation’s seventh-highest scoring team (92.5 ppg). Barry also ranks eighth across the land in three-point field goals per game (11.1 pg), led by Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year candidate Yunio Barrueta.
The senior from Miami tops the league in points per game with 24.9, failing to reach the 20-point plateau just four times in 15 contests. Barrueta is the headliner, but the key addition to the Bucs’ offense has definitely been LIU-Brooklyn transfer Elvar Fridriksson.
The 6-foot point guard leads the SSC in assists, yet even more impressively, the entire country with 8.1 per game. His 121 helpers are 36 more than any other player in the conference.
Barry did see its previous six-game win streak come to a close last Saturday versus No. 7 Eckerd, though, a team the Panthers forced to overtime without Corbin Jackson.
Jackson has been back in the lineup the last eight games since that time, and will likely need a repeat performance from last February’s 88-72 rout of then-No.4 Barry for history to have a chance of repeating itself. The reigning two-time SSC Defensive Player of the Year stuffed the stat sheet in the win with 17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists in a contest the Panthers led by as many as 25 points.
Jordan Majors rose to the occasion with a game-high 23 points in the effort, and figures to play a crucial role Wednesday having averaged 19.0 points per game since the start of the New Year.
“I thought our defensive effort was great in the second half, and we have to match that Wednesday night,” said Mims after his team nearly overcame a 16-point deficit at halftime to beat Nova Southeastern.
“We have to get things in order right now. Our goal is to get back in the top four in the conference, and it has to start with a win over Barry.”
Jim Mitchell and Paul Van Scott will have the call live from the Clemente Center. For complete coverage, log onto FloridaTechSports.com/live.