Denver (17-7) at Florida Atlantic (9-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 9th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Denver 11-2, FAU 4-3. Away Record: Denver 6-5, FAU 4-9. Neutral Record: Denver 0-0, FAU 1-2. Conference Record: Denver 7-4, FAU 5-5. Series Record: Denver leads, 4-2.
GAMES NOTES: Coming off its biggest win of the season, Denver will try to keep the momentum rolling when the Pioneers head to FAU Arena to take on Florida Atlantic in a Sun Belt Conference matchup.
Denver will face a Florida Atlantic squad it has matched up with only six times all-time. The Pioneers have held the upper hand in those meetings with a 4-2 record against the Owls.
Denver recently took down Middle Tennessee, which entered the game unbeaten in conference play. The victory came on the heels of back-to-back losses for the Pioneers who are now 7-4 in the Sun Belt West Division, a game out of second place. Denver remains in the Sunshine State to face FIU in its next outing.
Florida Atlantic lost to in-state rival FIU on Saturday, losing back-to-back games on the heels of a three game winning streak. The Owls are now 5-5 in the SBC, which is second to 10-1 Middle Tennessee in the East Division. This is the first part of a two-game homestand that continues against North Texas for the Owls.
On offense Denver was extremely effective knocking down an even 50.0 percent of its shots from the floor in the win over the Blue Raiders. The Pioneers were also disruptive on defense forcing 17 turnovers from a normally strong Middle Tennessee squad. Chris Udofia powered Denver with a season-high 27 points while also bringing in a game-high nine rebounds.
Effective shooting has been the key to Denver's success this season with the team netting 48.3 percent of its shots from the field which is second in the Sun Belt and 18th nationally. The shooting percentage nets the Pioneers 67.6 points per game. The Pioneers are able to shoot so well due to the teams ability to move the ball to the open man. Denver leads the conference in dishing out 15.7 assists per game as a team. Unfortunately Denver is not as efficient on the boards as the Pioneers pull in a conference worst 26.0 rebounds per game. The mark is also the lowest in the nation. Just as he was on Saturday, Udofia is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Pioneers. The sophomore forward is scoring 14.7 points per game while bringing in 5.4 rebounds per contest. Udofia also passes well out of the post leading the team with 2.8 assists per game. Senior guard Brian Stafford (14.0 ppg) is the second scoring option but has been held to just 10 points total in the last two games.
The 76-56 final score in the loss to FIU does not tell the whole story. Florida Atlantic held a 29-28 advantage going into the halftime but fell behind quickly in the second half by allowing the Golden Panthers to open the second period on an 8-0 run and allowing them to go 15-of-29 from the floor after the break. The loss wasted a 21-point effort from Greg Gantt who was the only player in double figures for Florida Atlantic.
The Owls are scoring 64.8 points per game this season on a modest 41.2 percent from the floor. Gantt is the only consistent double digit scorer for the Owls putting in 14.6 per game. The junior guard has missed three games this season but has still managed to be in double figures 15 times, including six of the last seven games. The 21 points against FIU was the seventh time he has had more than 20 in a game this season. Raymond Taylor runs the point for the Owls scoring 9.0 points and handing out 5.0 assists per game which is second in the conference. Junior forward Kore White (7.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is the team's leading rebounder and anchors the frontline along with junior forward Jordan McCoy (4.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg). McCoy is averaging 8.5 rebounds per contest in the last four games.
Two of the better scorers in the conference are highlighted in this one. Denver has been the more solid defensive team and with the backcourt led by Stafford, the Pioneers should be able to keep pace with Gantt, while Udofia dominates a weak frontcourt of Florida Atlantic.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 69, Florida Atlantic 60
02/09 10:40:13 ET