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December 8, 2013

Murphy Leading the Way

In front of a packed house and a national television audience the FIU men's basketball team (8-4) routed the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, 72-61, Saturday afternoon from Lime Court at U.S. Century Bank Arena.

Redshirt senior Rakeem Buckles notched his sixth double-double of the season and the ninth of his career, finishing with 11 points, on 4-of-13 shooting, while going 2-for-2 from the line. His 13 rebounds extend his streak to three-straight games with 10-or-more boards. Redshirt junior Dennis Mavin scored a career-high-tying 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting, while hitting five of his seven shots from the line. Senior Tymell Murphy had a game-high 23 points, while going 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. It's the second time this season the Brooklyn, N.Y., native made at least 10-straight from the line. For Murphy, it's also fifth time this season and the 13th time of his career that he has scored at least 20 points. Sophomore Jerome Frink was one rebound shy of his season-high, as the Jersey City, N.J., native finished with seven boards and seven points.

After surrendering the first two points of the game to the Eagles, Frink collected a defensive rebound and dished it to Murphy, who drove to the basket to give FIU an early 4-2 lead. Murphy hit both his shots from the line on the following Panther possession. Following a Buckles jumper from the paint with just over 13 minutes to play, FGCU was assessed a technical foul, where freshman Jason Boswell drained both shots. Murphy followed with a jumper of his own on the team's next possession, giving the Panthers a 14-6 lead with 12:03 to play, forcing an FGCU timeout. The Eagles went on a 6-2 run until Mavin hit an "and-one" with 9:46 to play in the first, putting FIU back up by five, 17-12. Buckles and Murphy hit back-to-back treys just under the 4-minute mark, giving the Panthers a 7-point, 28-21, lead. Buckles' shot extended FIU's streak to 157-straight games with a 3-point basket. The Panthers went into halftime with a 4-point, 30-26, lead.

Murphy led all scorers through 20 minutes with 11 points, going 4-of-5 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the line. In 15 minutes of action, Frink had a game-high six rebounds and drew two charges. Buckles and Mavin both added seven points, while FIU went 8-of-9 from the line in the first half and shot 38.5 perfect from the floor.

FIU opened the second half on an 8-6 run and led 38-32 with 16:32 to play, following two Murphy shots from the line. The Eagles tied the game at 38-all, but Boswell and junior Marco Porcher Jimenez sank back-to-back shots from beyond the arc, giving the Panthers a 6-point, 44-38, lead at just under the 14-minute mark. FGCU took the lead with 10:54 to play, off an 11-0 run. It was the first lead for the Eagles since 19:24 remaining in the first. With 8:04 to play in the game, Mavin brought FIU within five, 53-48, following a hook shot. The Eagles missed both free-throws with 4:34 remaining, keeping the FIU deficit at four points. Mavin then went coast-to-coast following a defensive rebound, with Murphy grabbing his second steal of the night on the following FGCU possession. He finished the 3-point play as FIU regained a one-point, 57-56, lead with 3:39 in the game. FIU went on a 9-0 run in the final three minutes, highlighted by four Murphy free-throws. Mavin intercepted the Eagles pass and took it to the basket with 40 seconds, solidifying a Panther victory.

The Panthers finished the night shooting 45 percent (23-of-51) and hit 88 percent of its free-throw attempts (22-of-25). FIU's biggest lead of the game was 11 points in a game that saw five lead changes. FIU edged FGCU on the boards, 37-33, while both teams had three blocks apiece.

FIU next faces the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals on Dec. 21. Tipoff from Lime Court at U.S. Century Bank Arena is slated for 6 p.m. ET and can be seen on FOX Sports 1.

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