South Alabama (2-3) at Florida Atlantic (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 29, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: USA 1-0, FAU 1-0. Away Record: USA 1-1, FAU 0-3. Neutral Record: USA 0-2, FAU 1-0. Conference Record: USA 0-0, FAU 0-0 Series Record: South Alabama leads, 9-4.
GAME NOTES: The South Alabama Jaguars are set to tip-off their Sun Belt Conference season as they head to FAU Arena to play the Florida Atlantic Owls.
The Jaguars opened up the season with a huge five-point win on the road over Florida State. They followed it up with an 18-point triumph over William Carey of the NAIA. The promising start ended there however, as USA began a three- game losing streak with a 68-57 setback to Tennessee State in the Coaches versus Cancer Classic. It then lost its next two games of the event by two- points each to Monmouth and Georgia State to arrive at a 2-3 overall record. Coach Ronnie Arrow needs just one win to tie Gene Bartow for the most Sun Belt wins in league history. Arrow is 110-84 in conference play in 14 seasons at South Alabama.
FAU can also make this a historic event with a decision as coach Mike Jarvis is currently tied with Sidney Green for the most wins in the Division I era at the program. The Owls improved to 2-3 overall with a narrow 56-55 win over American its last time out. After a couple of tough road games at North Carolina and Mississippi State, the team has nearly won all three of its contests. The only exception is an overtime loss the Owls suffered at Elon. Unlike its opponent, FAU plays at a slow pace to average just 59 ppg.
This will be the 14th meeting on the hardwood between these conference rivals. The Jaguars swept the season series last year to take a commanding 9-4 lead all-time. However, the matchup in Boca Raton needed an overtime period to determine a victor.
USA was able to take down Florida State in its season opener by knocking down 9-of-15 attempts from beyond the arc. Its 3-point shooting was nowhere near as efficient its last time out versus Georgia State. The Jaguars went 6-of-21 from three-point range, while GSU made 11-of-18 from distance. The lack of perimeter defense negated USA's 35-26 edge in the rebounding battle. It also negated a tremendous performance from forward Augustine Rubit, who tied his career-high with 31 points and also added 11 rebounds. The double-double was the second in as many games. He leads the SBC in scoring with 20.8 ppg. The team's second leading scorer, Xavier Roberson (12.8 ppg), has knocked down 4- of-9 from three-point land in each of the last two games. Mychal Ammons is a force up front with 12.6 points and nine rebounds per contest.
The Owls have hurt themselves thus far by failing to take care of the ball. After averaging just 12.2 turnovers per game last season, FAU is handing the ball back to its opponents 17.8 times per contest in 2012-13. That includes its last time out which it only committed nine miscues versus American. The low amount of turnovers and a slight 31-29 edge in the rebounding battle helped the Owls overcome an atrocious 26.9 field goal percentage in the second half to take down the Eagles. Greg Gantt led the way with 23 points while Jackson Trapp netted 12 points and handed out six assists. Gantt paced the team with 15.2 ppg while Stefan Moody is producing 12.8 ppg in only 24.6 minutes of action per contest.
There is no reason to think this one will not be a sequel of last season's overtime thriller. Although FAU's contests have been low-scoring affairs and USA likes a quicker tempo, neither side is going to have complete control of the pace.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: FAU 67, South Alabama 64
11/29 10:37:41 ET