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Eastern Florida Men Coming Together with Conference Victories; Miami Dade Next

Jan. 16, 2014 - After sprinting out to a 16-4 start and winning its first two conference games Eastern Florida men's basketball coach Jeremy Shulman believes his team is finally embracing its system.

And that was never more evident than Wednesday night when the Titans connected on 17 three-point baskets and clamped down defensively in defeating host and conference foe Palm Beach State 82-73 in Lake Worth.

But don't mistake Shulman's praise for anything more than it is: congratulations for one job well done. After all, 10 Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference games remain as the Titans seek to defend their first conference title since 2001.

"We were simple but effective," Shulman said of Wednesday. "We got back to our basics and our guys played well."

But once again — for the third game in a row — the Titans had to rally from a second-half deficit, this time 51-47 with 14 minutes and 15 seconds to play.

"We've got to get used to not getting down in the second half early," Shulman said acknowledging the grinding, unforgiving nature of conference play where small deficits can become big ones in a matter of minutes just as small deficits can become big leads, as Eastern Florida has shown.

That the Titans were able to build two 11-point leads in the first half and then stage a mid-second-half run was due in large part to its startling proficiency from the three-point line and its defense, the latter holding Palm Beach State without a field goal for 7 minutes and 51 seconds during the decisive portion of the second half.

Sophomore Torrance Rowe led the three-point barrage with six. Freshman Landus Anderson had four, freshmen Jermohn Queen and T.J. Cromer two, sophomore Ben Patrick two and freshman Demetrius McReynolds one.

The next test for Eastern Florida comes Saturday as conference foe Miami Dade College (14-5 overall and 1-1 in conference) visits the Melbourne Campus gym, where the Titans have won 26 straight games, for a 2 p.m. tipoff. Admission is free.

Miami Dade opened conference play with an 85-61 loss to a rejuvenated Broward College team but then beat conference foe Indian River State 86-76 on Wednesday. To that end Shulman expects nothing less than another tightly played conference game on Saturday.

Sophomore Darius Perkins leads Miami Dade in scoring, averaging 19.4 points per game. Sophomore Mike Ramey is averaging 11.9, sophomore Michael Calder 11.5 and freshman Prince Cooper 10.6. Sophomore Tre Boutlier leads in rebounding with 8.6 per game and freshman Omar Roberts leads in assists with 5.6.

And while Wednesday's victory guaranteed Shulman his fourth winning season in four years as head coach neither he nor his team can or will be satisfied with so much more basketball to be played.