South Alabama (15-10) at Florida Atlantic (11-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 23rd, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: South Alabama 9-5, FAU 6-3. Away Record: South Alabama 5-5, FAU 4-11. Neutral Record: South Alabama 1-0, FAU 1-2. Conference Record: South Alabama 7-7, FAU 7-7. Series Record: South Alabama leads 7-5.
GAMES NOTES: The South Alabama Jaguars and the Florida Atlantic Owls are deadlocked in the Sun Belt Conference standings but that will change after the squads square off in a key conference matchup at FAU Arena.
When these teams met earlier this month it was South Alabama that came out the victor, posting a 65-56 win on its home court. The win nudged the Jaguars to a 7-5 all-time series lead and snapped a two-game winning streak for the Owls in the process.
The Jaguars have righted the ship since a three-game losing streak at the end of January with wins in three of their last four matchups in conference play which pushes them to an even 7-7 on the season. South Alabama remains in the Sunshine State for a battle with FIU on Saturday that will close out the regular season.
Florida Atlantic hasn't been able to get a real streak going either winning or losing after it dropped back-to-back games on the heels of consecutive victories after a 72-59 loss to Middle Tennessee on Saturday. The Owls are also 7-7 in the Sun Belt this season but will get a home game in its last regular season outing against Troy.
South Alabama trailed by as many as 10 points against Western Kentucky on Saturday but managed to make a come back and secure a 66-61 victory on its home floor. In the game the Jaguars shot a measly 37.1 percent including 2- of-10 from three point range but outscored the Hilltoppers 18-6 from the free throw line to secure the victory.
South Alabama is right in the middle of the Sun Belt in terms of scoring and efficiency this season. The Jaguars are scoring 65.8 points per game while shooting 41.8 percent from the floor. Defense has keyed the success for the team, yielding just 65.9 points per game thanks mainly due to its conference leading rebounding efforts (39.6 rpg). Spearheading both the offense and the team's performance on the glass is sophomore center Augustine Rubit (14.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg). Rubit spent some time at the top of the conference but is currently third in scoring while hanging on to the top spot on the boards. Rubit posted 10 points and 13 rebounds against Western Kentucky for his ninth double-double this season. Mychal Ammons (9.2 ppg) was the leader offensively for the Jaguars on Saturday, scoring 17 points, while Freddie Goldstein (11.2 ppg) has been the team's only other consistent double-digit scorer.
Florida Atlantic struggled against the Sun Belt's top team in its loss to Middle Tennessee on Saturday. The Owls shot just 34.8 percent from the floor including 5-of-18 from beyond the arc and put in eight fewer field goals than the Blue Raiders in the loss.
The Owls are just a step behind the Jaguars this season as they score 65.3 points per game, while shooting 41.0 percent from the field. On defense Florida Atlantic is slightly weaker as well allowing 67.2 point per game to its opponents. Shavar Richardson (6.6 ppg) broke out of a three-game scoring slump by putting in a game-high 16 points in Saturday's loss. Although his scoring average is not near the top of the team, he has played much better since the new year, averaging 9.7 points per game in the last 13 games due to an upswing in minutes played. Junior guard Greg Gantt (13.5 ppg) is the only player averaging in double figures for the Owls but was held to just five points on Saturday. Raymond Taylor (9.5 ppg, 4.7 apg) can score but has been more valuable as a passer in accumulating the second best assists in the conference this season.
South Alabama has been a tough team on the road this season with an even 5-5 mark away from its home floor. With the slight edge on both offense and defense and the advantage of a superior front line, the Jaguars get the nod in this matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Alabama 68, Florida Atlantic 66
02/23 10:37:48 ET