Mocs Set to Open Home Schedule Friday By Hosting Warner
LAKELAND - Florida Southern will open the home portion of its 2013-14 schedule on Friday, Nov. 15 as the ninth-ranked Moccasins host Warner in a non-conference battle between two schools located within 30 miles of each other in Polk County. Tip-off for Friday's home opener is set for 7:30 p.m. at Jenkins Field House and the game will feature a live web broadcast provided by HBTV Sports Network.
The Mocs enter the game sporting a 2-0 overall record on the season after opening the 2013-14 campaign with back-to-back wins last weekend at the "Down in the Delta" Challenge hosted by Delta State University and held in Cleveland, Miss. At the two-day exempt event, FSC opened the season with an 89-66 win over Delta State last Saturday, before posting a hard-fought 81-71 win this past Sunday over Arkansas-Monticello. Warner enters the game with a 1-2 record and the Royals have dropped two straight games since opening the season with an 82-64 home win over Edward Waters on Nov. 2.
Friday's home opener with Warner will mark the 87th home opener in school history and it will mark the third time the Mocs have opened its home schedule against Warner and first time since the 1999-00 season when FSC picked up an 84-70 win over the Royals. FSC is 2-0 all-time against Warner in home openers. In addition, it will also mark the earliest home opener for the Mocs since opening its 2005-06 home schedule on Nov. 15 against Florida Memorial.
The Mocs, who have won 30 of its last 36 home games over the past two seasons, including posting a 16-3 mark on its homecourt a year ago, have won two consecutive home openers and 13 of its last 14 overall with the only loss being a 77-75 setback to USC-Aiken to open the home portion of its 2010-11 season. It is only the fourth time since 2000 that FSC will not face a school from Puerto Rico in its home opener as they faced USC-Aiken in 2010, Florida Memorial in 2005 and Nova Southeastern in 2001. Last season, FSC opened its home schedule with an 86-62 win over Puerto Rico-Bayamon.
Friday's meeting with Warner will mark just the seventh-ever meeting between the two Polk County schools and the first meeting since Dec. 12, 2002. In that game, FSC picked up a 95-75 win in Lakeland. The Mocs hold a 5-1 edge all-time in the series and they have won four straight games overall in the series since the Royals collected a 75-70 win on Dec. 1, 1998 in Lakeland. All six of the previous games in the series have come at Jenkins Field House.
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Warner, who is a member of the NAIA's The Sun Conference, returns just five lettermen and no starters from last season's 18-13 squad that lost in the first round of The Sun Conference Tournament. The Royals, who were tabbed to finish fifth in the Preseason TSC Coaches' Poll, have posted seven consecutive winning seasons, including four 20-plus win seasons. As a team, WU comes into Friday's averaging nearly 75 points per game and are shooting 42 percent from the field, 30 percent from the 3-point line and 74 percent at the free throw line. The Royals are allowing its opponents to score 72.0 points per game and they are getting outrebounded by nearly five boards per contest and have committed just 34 turnovers (11.3 per game).
Leading the way for the Royals is senior guard Fredrick Conner. Conner, who is a transfer from South Alabama, is averaging 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game and he has gone to the free throw line 50 times this season in three games and has made 39 of those attempts. He is averaging 16.7 trips to the line per game on the year and has taken 57 percent of his team's free throw attempts as Warner has gone to the free throw line 87 times as a team. In addition to Conner, freshman forward Josh Ellis is averaging 11.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game and is shooting 65 percent from the field, while freshman guard Keevis Tukes is averaging 10.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and is shooting 43 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the 3-point line and senior guard Mitch Rice, who is one of the five returners from last season, is averaging 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Warner will bring a familiar face to Jenkins Field House on Friday night as the Royals are coached by former Moccasin assistant coach Sean Hanrahan. Hanrahan spent five seasons (2001-06) as an assistant on Tony Longa's Moccasin staff. Hanrahan is in his eighth season at Warner and he has compiled a 139-83 record. His 139 wins make him the all-time winningest coach in school history and he led the program to the second round of the 2011 NAIA National Tournament.
Meanwhile, the Mocs come into Friday's game looking to open the season 3-0 for the first time since winning its first 13 games to open the 2009-10 season. The Mocs come into play against Warner having scored 80-plus points in its first two games this season as they are averaging 85.0 points per game and are shooting 51 percent from the field, 33 percent from the 3-point line and 76 percent at the free throw line and are outscoring its foes by a +16.5 margin as their first two opponents are averaging just 68.5 points per contest. Once again this season, another strength of the Mocs in the early going has been its ability to force turnovers on defense and take care of the ball on offense as they enter Friday's action with a +5.0 turnover margin as they have forced their foes into 18.5 turnovers per game, while averaging just 13.5 turnovers per game on offense. The Mocs were the Division II national statistical champion in turnover margin (+6.8) last season.
Leading the way for the Mocs offensively early on this season are junior guard Kevin Capers (Winter Haven, Fla.) and senior guard Dominic Lane (St. Petersburg, Fla.). Capers leads the way in scoring as he is averaging 18.0 points per game and is shooting 83 percent (15-for-18) from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line and opened the season with 23 points against Delta State and then tallied 13 points in the Mocs game against UAM, while Lane is averaging 14.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and is shooting 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from long distance. He opened the season with 15 points against Delta State and then tallied 14 points and five boards against UAM. The third Moc averaging in double figures is junior guard Tyler Kelly (Pickerington, Ohio) as he is averaging 10.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Two other Mocs, sophomore senior forward Lamar McKnight (Cleveland, Ohio) and sophomore guard Dominique Williams (Haines City, Fla.) are just under 10 points per game as McKnight is averaging 9.5 points per contest and Williams is averaging 9.0 points per game.
The Mocs leading rebounder through the first two games is redshirt senior forward Garrett Putman (Washington, D.C.) as he is averaging 6.0 boards per game, while Williams is second on the team in rebounding as he is averaging 5.0 boards per contest and leads the team with four offensive rebounds.
Following Friday's game, the Mocs will hit the road for two consecutive games next week as they open the road swing with a 7:30 p.m. contest on Thursday, Nov. 21 at Benedict, before traveling to Savannah, Ga., for a 3:30 p.m. game on Saturday, Nov. 23 against Armstrong Atlantic State. Benedict is one of two non-conference teams on the Mocs schedule this season that advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament last year.
Live stats will be available here: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=30005.
Live webcast and audio broadcast of the game will be available here: http://fscmocs.nmtvsports.com