Junior safety Jonathan Cyprien, whose 9-yard interception return touchdown gave FIU a 28-7 second quarter lead in their 28-17 win at Louisiana-Monroe Saturday, was named Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Cyprien had five solo tackles, nine tackles overall and the touchdown, which turned out to be an even larger factor than it seemed at the time. After all, nobody thought FIU was finished scoring and Monroe's points had come on Luther Ambrose's kickoff return touchdown (Ambrose got the special teams weekly nod from The Belt). But that score gave FIU a beefier margin for error in the second half, especially after Monroe closed to 28-17. If that's 21-17, the Panthers side easily could start getting uptight and it's less likely they get the close out plays they got from Richard Leonard and the defensive line.
This is the second defensive player of the week award won by FIU this season, and the sixth player of the week award overall -- two offensive and one special teams by wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, a special teams by kicker Jack Griffin and a defensive by defensive tackle Isame Faciane.
The consolation bracket of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off sends FIU to Oral Roberts Monday to play Arkansas-Pine Bluff Monday at 6 p.m. and Oral Roberts Tuesday. For those who like to watch, try http://www.orugoldeneagles.com for live video streaming.
One plus already two games into this season -- FIU's hitting 82.9 percent of their free throws as opposed to 68.9 percent last season. Un-SportsCenter as free throws are, they're important for winning close games, games of the type FIU lost last year.
Meanwhile, FIU's women's team tries to even its 1-2 record at U.S. Century Bank Arena aganst Florida A&M. FAMU defeated Jacksonville in its opener, as did FIU, then lost to Central Florida. FIU is coming off a 61-54 Friday loss at Texas-San Antonio.