After what was the most impressive series for the team to this point all year against FIU, the Charlotte men's basketball team (9-7, 5-3) will look to continue their great play on the road when they take on Middle Tennessee (3-11, 1-7). The home stint was short for the 49ers, but they will take what they learned from the FIU series on the road with them to Tennessee.
Players to watch for Charlotte
He was Mr. do everything for Charlotte in the series against FIU, and his name is Marvin Cannon. His stats didn't dazzle, but he played outstanding defense and was only a few points away from a double-double as he grabbed ten rebounds in the first contest with FIU. His rugged defense continued in the second game, as well as he forced a couple of bad FIU passes that led to turnovers. Having senior leadership on a team with many young players is critical, and Cannon provides this boost.
The second player to watch is senior guard Jordan Shepard. Shepard is coming off a terrific series against FIU, where in the second game, he hit the three-point shot that gave the 49ers the late lead and ultimately the victory. His defense is phenomenal and will be a key component on the road this weekend.
Players to watch for Middle Tennessee
Junior guard Dontrell Shuler is the first player to watch for Middle Tennessee. He comes in averaging 12.2 points per game and adding a few assists per game as well. He does not particularly shoot the ball well, but he pushes the tempo and finds open looks. Containing him in the fast break situations will be critical for Charlotte.
The second player to keep an eye on is redshirt junior guard Jordan Davis. He comes into the series averaging 11 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and is the compliment for Dontrell Shuler. They work together to create easy opportunities for their team. Keeping these two from driving the ball will be a focal point for the 49ers.
Keys to a Charlotte victory
On the offensive side, the 49ers need to push the pace and wear Middle Tennessee out early. Jordan Shepard said it best in his last post-game interview. You have to "hit them in the mouth first," and this is something that, if the 49ers can do, will dramatically increase their chances of going 2-0 this weekend. In several games this season, the 49ers have had the lead at halftime and would lose the game.
If Charlotte can get off to a quick start and play with the same fire and zeal the entire 40 minutes, they have a good chance to get their second sweep of the season.
"We have to be sharp, and we have to be focused on the details of the gameplan," head coach Ron Sanchez said in his mid-week interview.
The 49ers tip-off at 7 p.m. on Feb. 5 and at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6. Both games will be shown on ESPN+ and you can listen on the radio on ESPN 730 The Game.