ULM (3-13) at Florida Atlantic (10-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 31, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: ULM 2-5, FAU 6-3. Away Record: ULM 1-8, FAU 3-9. Neutral Record: ULM 0-0, FAU 1-0. Conference Record: ULM 2-8, FAU 5-6. Series Record: Florida Atlantic, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: The ULM Warhawks and the Florida Atlantic Owls both attempt to halt prolonged losing streaks on Thursday night, as the two get together at FAU Arena In Boca Raton for a Sun Belt Conference showdown.
ULM's season has been a struggle from the start, the team going just 3-13 overall and it sits all alone in last place in the Sun Belt's West Division standings at 2-8. The Warhawks are currently losers of five straight games, most recently dropping an overtime thriller at home to Troy last Saturday, 71-64.
FAU was in the midst of a promising season a few weeks back, moving to 10-9 following a Jan. 17 victory over Troy, but since then it has fallen back with three straight losses. The Owls embarked on a two-game road trip last week and came away with setbacks at Arkansas-Little Rock (65-62) and Arkansas State (63-38) to fall to 5-6 in league play.
FAU leads the all-time series with ULM, 5-2, but the Warhawks won the first meeting this season, 65-64, on Dec. 29, 2012 on a game-winning 3-pointer by Trent Mackey.
The Warhawks trailed Troy last weekend by 10 with under 10 minutes to play in the second half, and even though a 3-pointer by Mackey with two seconds left in regulation forced overtime, they could not outlast the Trojans in the extra session. ULM did not shoot especially well from the field (.400), but what hurt it the most was its dismal 10-of-26 performance at the foul line. Amos Olatayo led the way with 21 points in the setback, Jayon James tallied 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, while Mackey pitched in with 12 points. On the season, ULM has the Sun Belt's worst scoring offense, putting up a mere 58.0 ppg, and it isn't helped much by its defensive effort, as it allows opponents to net nearly 70 points per contest. Olatayo is the team's top scoring option, pouring 14.0 ppg on nearly 45 percent field goal shooting. James is an across-the-board contributor with 10.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.4 apg and 1.4 spg, but he also commits nearly five turnovers per tilt and sports poor percentages from both the field overall (.394), and the foul line (.477).
FAU never had a chance in last Saturday's matchup with Arkansas State, as it had by far its worst offensive performance of the season. Not only did it shoot a lowly 13-of-41 from the field (.317), but it missed all 10 of its 3- point attempts, went 12-of-21 from the foul line (.571), and committed 21 turnovers. The only Owls' player to net in double figures was leading scorer Greg Gantt with his 13 points on 6-of-10 from the field. Gantt is the Sun Belt's top scorer this season, netting 21.6 ppg (sixth in the nation) while showing stellar marksmanship from 3-point range (.411) as well as the foul lone (.798). Stefan Moody in a quality second option, scoring 14.2 ppg, while Pablo Bertone brings 8.3 ppg to the table, but both players are shooting less than 40 percent from the field. Despite having an elite scorer on its side, FAU puts up just 63.5 ppg, and its effort at the defensive end has been modest at best (66.5 ppg). The team oftentimes holds an advantage from beyond the arc however, outshooting opponents there, 37.7 percent to 30 percent.
Despite its poor record, ULM has shown promise this season. Very little has come on the road, however, so expect Gantt and the Owls to get back to their winning ways.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida Atlantic 70, ULM 63
01/31 10:35:18 ET