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Maybe The Biggest Week In FAU Basketball History Is Underway

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FAU Press Release:

2/15/2022 | Men’s Basketball

A contest with major implications for the Conference USA standings and the C-USA Championship is slated for Thursday evening at FAU Arena. North Texas, currently sitting atop the C-USA West Division visits FAU, which is currently a half-game out of first place in the C-USA East Division.

One of the two teams will leave Thursday’s game with a long winning streak coming to an end. The Owls are tied for 21st in the nation in home winning streaks, having taken their last 10 on Abessinio Court. Meanwhile, the Mean Green is on a 10-game overall winning streak.

It’s the first meeting between FAU and North Texas in more than two years. The last meeting was an 81-58 victory for the Mean Green in Denton, Texas during the 2020 season.

FAU is 15-10 overall and 8-4 in Conference USA. FAU has matched its top mark for C-USA victories in a season, which was last accomplished in 2018-19. The Owls have six conference games remaining this season to set a new standard for CUSA success. North Texas comes into the contest 18-4 and 11-1 in C-USA action. The Mean Green hasn’t lost since dropping a 69-63 decision to UAB in its second C-USA game back on Jan. 6.

The FAU-UNT tilt will be heard in the South Florida area on Fox Sports 640 AM and will be streamed on ESPN+.

Home Sweet Home
In the Dusty May era, FAU has been very successful on Abessinio Court. The Owls have won more than 78 percent of their home contests under May (43-12, .781). FAU has been even better on its home floor since May’s first season. Since 2019, FAU is 34-6 at FAU Arena (.850).

Trending Upward
FAU posted its third consecutive winning season in 2020-21, making Dusty May the first Owls’ head coach to lead a team to three straight winning seasons in the school’s NCAA Division I history. Back in 1992, Tim Loomis coached the Owls to three straight seasons with a winning percentage above .500 while the team was a member of NCAA Division II.

A winning record in 2021-22 would make May the fi rst ever at FAU to coach a men’s basketball team to four straight seasons above .500.

Cleaning the Glass
Rebounding has been a point of emphasis for the Owls the last two seasons. The Owls are currently No. 1 in CUSA and No. 49 in the nation in rebound margin at +5.0. In 20 of 25 games this year, FAU has tied or outrebounded the opposition. FAU has owned the rebounding edge by 10 or more seven times, with a high of +17 (at UNM).

Last Time Out – WKU 76, FAU 69
A 15-0 Western Kentucky run that spanned the end of the first and beginning of the second half provided momentum for the Hilltoppers, who held off FAU Thursday night. WKU (13-11, 5-6 CUSA) picked up the 76-69 Conference USA victory at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Western Kentucky started hot and built a quick 11-5 lead. But the Owls responded. Seven straight points off the bench for Johnell Davis erased the WKU lead and put FAU (15-10, 8-4 CUSA) on top 15-13. A Michael Forrest bucket extended the FAU run to 9-0 and the Owls led 17-13.

FAU led 20-15 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. For the next six minutes, a grand total of four points were scored on one field goal for either team. The Owls had numerous opportunities to extend their lead, but committed four turnovers in that stretch.

When the led finally came off the baskets, Bryan Greenlee gave FAU a seven-point lead with a triple at the 4:45 mark. With three minutes left in the half, the Owls were on top 27-20. But FAU committed three more turnovers and missed a pair of 3-point attempts over the next three minutes. Meanwhile, WKU took advantage, scoring 10 points to go on top 30-27 at the intermission.

“I thought we were getting up and down in transition and didn’t capitalize by making the shots that we typically make,” FAU head coach Dusty May said of the first half. “Because of that, I thought it affected our defensive energy. We started both halves slow from a defensive standpoint and that can’t happen.”

The Hilltoppers extended the run to 15-0, scoring the first five points of the second half and taking a 35-27 edge. From there, it was a constant effort to battle back for the Owls. A Giancarlo Rosado bucket with 14:33 left in the game pulled FAU within five, 44-39. Five quick points from WKU put the Hilltoppers up by double digits for the first time, 49-39, with 13 minutes left.

Western Kentucky led by 10, 64-54 with five minutes remaining. A Forrest 3-pointer and a Vlad Goldin dunk quickly trimmed the deficit to five, 64-59. A Greenlee 3-pointer at the 2:24 mark got the Owls within four, 68-64. But they could get no closer. Western Kentucky was 8-of-8 from the free throw line over the final two minutes.

“We turned it over 16 times. If we’re going to be a championship-level basketball team, we can’t turn it over that much on the road,” May said. “Then, they out-rebounded us. That’s something that has to be our identity every single night. We just didn’t do a good enough job on the defensive glass.”

FAU was led by Forrest’s 20 points, which included 4-of-9 shooting from behind the 3-point arc. Forrest also dished out five assists. Martin and Greenlee were also in double digits with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Davis led the way on the glass with six boards. WKU was paced by Camron Justice, who scored 19.