MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- The way Orlando Gonzalez sees it, this is a high-stakes challenge his team awaits.
Barry University men's basketball team hosts No. 8 Florida Southern 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Health & Sports Center. Will Sanchez will handle the call on the Bucs Broadcast Network. The men's game will follow the women's game against FSC, which tips off at 5:30 p.m.
The Moccasins (16-2, 8-1 Sunshine State Conference) are the highest nationally-ranked team the Buccaneers (9-9, 3-6) will have played since meeting No. 2 Grand Valley State on Nov. 11, 2007 in the Disney East Tip-Off Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Mocs are also the highest-ranked team on the schedule this season.
"We look at this as an opportunity," said Gonzalez, who is serving as Barry's acting head coach this year. "It's an opportunity to play a ranked team, a very good team. They're No. 8 in the country for a reason. It's going to be a reality check to where we are at this point in the year. They're extremely good."
Barry lost the first meeting to Florida Southern, 96-70, in Lakeland on Jan. 5. The Mocs are ranked seventh in the country in scoring at 87.1 points per game. The Bucs are scoring and giving up 70.9 ppg. FSC is the only team this year that has scored over 84 points on the Buccaneers.
The Mocs lead the league in forced turnovers, having created an average of 20.9 per game. Barry is committing 15.6 per game.
"Their pressure defense is extreme," Gonzalez said. "If we can take care of the basketball, and we can make them work defensively, I think we can slow them down. You've got to make them expend energy."
The Buccaneers felt they let their last game get away Saturday's two-point loss at Florida Tech after shooting 50.8 percent from the floor -- the second-best shooting percentage they've had all year. Barry turned it over 22 times in the loss, however, in large part due to the Panthers' 1-2-2 trapping defense.
"We did not prepare for it because they have not done it all year," Gonzalez said. "The guys just didn't do the basic things to handle that press. When a team plays like that, you can't run anything. You've got to attack. You've got to make quick decisions. We just found a way to give that game away. We didn't defend the way we needed to."
Florida Tech's 83 points were the most the Bucs allowed since giving up 84 on Dec. 14 to St. Thomas, which has been ranked as high as No. 4 in NAIA Division II this season.
Barry's last win over Florida Southern was a 77-55 victory in Miami Shores on Jan. 8, 2011. The last time the Bucs beat a ranked Florida Southern team was Mar. 13, 2010 -- a 64-59 win in the first round of the NCAA Divisino II National Tournament in Russellville, Ark., when the Moccasins were No. 13 in the nation. Barry also beat the Mocs a week earlier, 79-61, in the SSC Tournament semifinals when they were No. 12 in the country.
So what would it mean to do it this time?
"I think it'd be a game-changer because I think the biggest thing about our team is we need confidence," Gonzalez said. "If you win a game like this, it'd tell our guys we can play with anybody in the conference and anybody in the nation.
"But you want to develop over the course of the season. Eventually, you want to peak come tournament time. We just got to keep working and stay positive. I think our best basketball is ahead of us."
LAST TIME OUT: Barry lost at Florida Tech, 83-81, on the road Saturday.
SERIES RECORD: Barry is 14-43 all-time against Florida Southern ... The
Bucs’ last win against FSC came on Jan. 8, 2011 when Barry beat the Mocs,
77-55, at home ... Four Buccaneers scored in double figures in the first
game at Florida Southern this year, a 96-70 loss.
EYES ON OPPONENT: Florida Southern is riding a league-best seven-game
winning streak ... The Mocs are the highest scoring team in the
league at 87.1 ppg ... They are outscoring teams by 13.2 ppg, which also
leads the SSC ... Dominic Lane leads FSC in scoring (15.6 ppg) which
ranks sixth in the conference, is tops on the team in rebounding (6.5) ...
Seth Evans, who had 21 points against Barry in the first game, is averaging
14.8 ppg, which is tied for 10th in the league ... Kevin Capers is scoring
11.9 and shooting 80.7 percent from the free throw line ... Brett Bailey,
who had 20 points and seven boards in the first game against the Bucs, is
averaging 11.4 ppg and 5.4 reb.
SCORING IN BUNCHES: Florida Southern, which ranks seventh in the
country in scoring, has put up 91 points or more in its past six games, two
of which have been on the road ... Barry has allowed 70.8 ppg over its past
RANKED OPPONENTS: The Mocs are the highest-ranked team Barry
has played since meeting No. 2 Grand Valley St. on Nov. 11, 2007 at the
Disney East Tip-off Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. ... Wednesday’s game
marks the third time Barry will have played an opponent that was ranked
on the day of the game this year ... This marks the sixth game Barry will
have played against a team that’s been ranked at some point this season ...
St. Thomas (NAIA), Saint Leo and Rollins have all had rankings this year.
McCOY’s STREAK AT 17: Barry Sr. G Justin McCoy has scored in double
fi gures in 17 straight games ... He has scored in double figures in every
game but the season opener when he had nine points ... McCoy scored
over 20 points in four games this year, which included a career-high 29 vs.
Lynn on Jan. 9.
DWAINE DROPPING DOUBLES: Soph. F Damien Dwaine has scored
in double figures in two of the past three games ... He has reached double
figures in four games this season.