Florida Tech Travels to Eckerd As Conference Play Heats Up
By Florida Tech // December 1, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Winning six of seven to begin the year is something to certainly feel good about, but the Florida Tech Panthers know that now is not the time to hang their hats with the Sunshine State Conference portion of their schedule and a visit to Eckerd Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET looming ahead.
“This is where our team has to step up and be tough,” said head coach Billy Mims.
“We have the toughest start to the schedule of anybody. We already had to get a tough win at Tampa. Now we have to go to Eckerd. I don’t know what I did to upset the basketball gods, but I know if we can survive that start then it bodes well for this team.”
Mims and company handled business on their home floor over the weekend, capturing the Florida Tech Thanksgiving Tournament title with a convincing 72-55 win against North Greenville, despite the absences of leading scorer Corbin Jackson and sharp-shooter Randy Echols.
Picking up the slack were a pair of sophomores in Pat Anderson and Sam Daniel, both represented on the all-tournament team.
Named the weekend’s Most Valuable Player, Anderson followed up his 20-point performance from the night before with another stellar all-around game, including 15 points, six assists and six steals. The sophomore also combined to shoot 7-of-13 from beyond the arc in the Panthers’ pair of wins.
Daniel, meanwhile, tallied 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half versus the Crusaders, finishing one point shy of his career-high recorded at Tampa on Nov. 18. The Kingsland, Georgia native has already scored in double-figures four times this season after notching just five such efforts a year ago.
Eckerd has looked equally as imposing, if not more, winning six of its first seven contests by a 14-point margin.
Following an 87-77 season-opening defeat to then-No. 11 Delta State, the Tritons have reeled off six straight victories, including a clean sweep of Puerto Rico-Bayamon and Claflin in the Eckerd College Thanksgiving Classic.
Three Tritons are currently averaging double-figures scoring, paced by Jerrick Stevenson’s 14.3 points per game, but it’s the defense that has been the team’s focal point thus far. Entering Wednesday, Eckerd has limited its opponents to a league-best 68.3 points per game, allowing 80-plus points just once.
The Panthers hope to avenge last season’s late collapse at the McArthur Center, relinquishing an 11-point cushion in the final 2:22 of regulation to eventually fall 60-57 to the Tritons.
“Our games at Eckerd have always been one or two point games,” said Mims. “You look back at the recent history of our games at Eckerd, and they have all been close. I don’t expect this one to be any different.”
Live coverage, courtesy of Eckerd, will be available at FloridaTechSports.com.