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Contact: Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications
First Place at Stake as Eastern Florida Men Host Broward on Wednesday
Feb. 4, 2014 - Wednesday's Eastern Florida State College men's basketball game against Broward College on the Melbourne Campus is big for several reasons:
• Eastern Florida and Broward are tied for first place in the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference with 5-2 records.
• Eastern Florida, which beat Broward 77-73 in overtime on Jan. 22 in Davie, needs to beat the Seahawks again to gain a tiebreaker for first place should they end up tied. Conference teams play each other three times each season.
• An Eastern Florida victory also would give the Titans a better chance of finishing first or second in the conference and advancing to the FCSAA/NJCAA Region 8 postseason tournament at the College of Central Florida in Ocala.
• Eastern Florida has won 28 straight games at home and certainly doesn't want that streak to end.
• Conversely Eastern Florida has lost two of its last three conference match ups and needs to get back on track with five games remaining.
Tip off Wednesday is 7 p.m. — admission is free — and Eastern Florida head coach Jeremy Shulman is hoping for a large, loud, boisterous crowd to spur his team on.
"We don't beat Palm Beach last week or last season (to eliminate the Panthers from the conference race) without the crowds that we had," Shulman said.
"The guys feed off that."
Broward presents myriad challenges to Eastern Florida. Like the Titans the Seahawks play a four-guard offense and shoot and defend well, all traits that have spurred Eastern Florida to a 19-6 overall record.
Broward is 17-6 and comes into the game ranked 18th nationally in three-point shooting percentage at 38.4 and 19th in steals per game at 10.5.
Sophomore guard Dashawn Richardson leads Broward in scoring at 16 points per game followed by sophomore forward David Gaberlavage at 12.5 and sophomore guard T.J. Johnson at 11.9.
Freshman guard Daniel Ramis leads in three-point shooting percentage at 53.5. Sophomore guard Kareem Roach leads in rebounding averaging 10.2 per game while Johnson and Roach lead in steals at 2.5 and 2.4 per game respectively.
"They are a tough, well-coached team," Shulman said. "Like all conference games we have to be at our best on Wednesday."
To that end Shulman isn't adding any extra emphasis for Wednesday, believing the fact that Eastern Florida cannot stumble over its final games to be incentive enough.
The Titans successfully navigated a must-win four-game stretch to end last season en route to the conference title and while that was then and this is now Shulman is hoping the players who returned from last year's state runner-up team will impart those lessons to their teammates.
Eastern Florida comes into Wednesday with some strong numbers of its own. The Titans are 15th nationally in three-pointers made per game at 8.9, 17th in points scored at 2,175 and 21st in assists at 18.5.
Sophomore Torrance Rowe leads Eastern Florida in scoring at 13.5 points per game. Freshman Demetrius McReynolds is close behind at 13.2. Sophomores Shaheed Davis and Mike Kirkland also are in double figures at 10.9 and 10.1 respectively.
Kirkland leads in rebounding at seven per game. Freshman Jermohn Queen leads in steals at 1.5 per game. Sophomore Ben Patrick is sixth nationally in assists to turnover ratio at 4.1 and 11th in assists with 138.
Things don't get any easier for Eastern Florida as Indian River State College, which handed the Titans their first conference loss of the season, comes calling at 2 p.m. Saturday for the finale of their three-game series.
Eastern Florida then travels to Lake Worth to play Palm Beach State at 7 p.m. Feb. 12, hosts Miami Dade — which also handed Eastern Florida a conference loss — at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 on Sophomore Night, and wraps up the regular season at Broward on Saturday, Feb. 22.