Florida Atlantic (9-12) at South Alabama (11-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 2nd, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mitchell Center (10,000) -- Mobile, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: FAU 4-2, USA 6-5. Away Record: FAU 4-8, USA 4-4. Neutral Record: FAU 1-2, USA 1-0. Conference Record: FAU 5-3, USA 3-6. Series Record: South Alabama leads, 7-4.
GAME NOTES: The Florida Atlantic Owls try to build upon its season-long three- game win streak when they travel to Mobile to take on the South Alabama Jaguars in Sun Belt Conference action.
After winning just four of its first 14 games, Florida Atlantic has responded by claiming five of its last seven and is now sitting in second place in the Sun Belt East Division standings. The Owls were able to squeak by Western Kentucky last Thursday, 67-66.
Though South Alabama has more overall wins that Florida Atlantic, it has only registered three wins in nine conference bouts. The Jaguars are coming off a victory however, defeating Troy this past Sunday, 68-66, on an Augustine Rubit lay-up with 1.8 seconds left in regulation.
South Alabama leads the series with Florida Atlantic, 7-4. Despite trailing in the series, the Owls have won three of the last four meetings, including a 74-64 verdict on February 27, 2011.
Florida Atlantic ranks in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt in both scoring offense (65.6 ppg) and scoring defense (66 ppg), and the team didn't stray far from those averages in last Thursday's win. The Owls held Western Kentucky to 41.8 percent shooting from the floor while knocking down 46.3 percent of their shots. Shavar Richardson was the only FAU player to register double figures, exploding for 25 points on 10-of-15 from the floor, way up from his miniscule 5.8 ppg average. Greg Gantt leads the team and is third in the conference in scoring with 14.3 ppg and he is one of the league's better perimeter shooters, connecting on 2.1 three-pointers per game at a 38.5 percent clip. Raymond Taylor adds 9.4 ppg and he is second in the conference in assists (5.2 apg). Florida Atlantic is not a strong rebounding team, ranking in the bottom half of the league and the squad is without a player averaging more than five boards per outing.
South Alabama got back on track offensively in Sunday's win after scoring 50 points or fewer in its previous two games. Though the Jaguars shot a modest 42.1 percent from the field, they went to the foul line 26 times and were able to convert second-chance points off of 17 offensive rebounds. In addition to draining the game-winning basket, Rubit had a huge game with 18 points, a season-high 19 rebounds and five blocks. The big-time effort was more evidence of the kind of season Rubit is having as he ranks second in the Sun Belt in scoring (14.7 ppg) and first in rebounding (9.0 rpg), all while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and blocking a shot per game. Freddie Goldstein averages 10.4 ppg but he has been ice cold lately, shooting an abysmal 6-of-35 from the floor in four games since going off for 30 points on January 14. Antoine Lundy nets 8.6 ppg and he impressed in his first start of the season on Sunday, making good on 7-of-11 shots to finish with 18 points.
FAU is riding a hot streak but could face some trouble against a rejuvenated USA squad. It figures to be a close game, but the Jaguars should be able to take care of business in front of their home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 65, Florida Atlantic 62
02/02 10:33:53 ET