Florida Atlantic (12-15) at Louisiana (9-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 8:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cajundome (13,500) -- Lafayette, Louisiana. Television: None. Home Record: FAU 8-4, Louisiana 8-4. Away Record: FAU 3-11, Louisiana 1-13. Neutral Record: FAU 1-0, Louisiana 0-0. Conference Record: FAU 7-9, Louisiana 5-10. Series Record: Series is tied, 4-4.
GAME NOTES: The Florida Atlantic Owls go in search of their second straight win on Saturday night, as they hit the road for a Sun Belt Conference clash with the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.
FAU snapped a three-game losing streak in its latest effort, defeating Western Kentucky at home, 84-78. The Owls' season as a whole has been largely disappointing, as they sport a below-.500 record both overall (12-15) and in conference (7-9), and they've won only three of 14 bouts on the road.
Louisiana is fresh off a disappointing effort at South Alabama on Thursday night, as it was saddled with an 88-64 loss. Despite the Cajuns' poor season (9-17, 5-10 Sun Belt), they have been solid on their home floor, going 8-4 at the Cajundome.
FAU captured a 75-70 home win in the first meeting between the two this season to even the all-time series at 4-4.
The Owls took a lead over WKU with eight and a half minutes to play in the first half and they never relinquished that advantage the rest of the way as they held on for a six-point win. FAU put together its best offensive performance of the season in the triumph, shooting an outstanding 59.1 percent from the field (including 9-of-17 from 3-point range) and 23-of-28 from the free-throw line. Greg Gantt drained five long-range buckets on his way 31 points. Stefan Moody was nearly flawless from the field (9-of-11) in netting a career-high 26 points, while Pablo Bertone tallied 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds off the bench. Gantt is the Sun Belt's leading scorer with 21.5 ppg, doing most of his damage from 3-point range (76-of-190, .400), and he has tallied 20 or more points in back-to-back games after failing to do so in the previous five. Moody is a solid second option with 14.7 ppg, but as a team, FAU ranks ninth in the league in scoring at 64.8 ppg.
The Cajuns trailed South Alabama by 11 points at the break in their latest game versus South Alabama, and could never recover on their way to the 24- point setback. They shot a modest 42.1 percent from the field, but only 4- of-16 from 3-point range (.250). Elfrid Payton tallied 17 points and seven assists, Kasey Shepherd came off the bench to net 16 points, and Shawn Long recorded 11 points and eight boards, but shot only 4-of-14 from the floor. No team in the Sun Belt scores more than Louisiana, which nets 71.0 ppg on 43.2 percent field goal efficiency, but it has been hindered by a woeful defense that ranks last in the league in permitting an average of 74.1 ppg. Long is without question one of the league's top forwards, ranking among the leaders in scoring (15.6 ppg), rebounding (10.4 ppg) and blocks (2.0 bpg). Payton is also a multi-faceted performer, tallying 15.3 ppg and 5.5 rpg while leading the conference in both assists (5.3 apg) and steals (2.3 spg). Rounding out one of the nation's most potent scoring trios is Bryant Mbamalu, who pours in 14.3 ppg on nearly 49 percent accuracy from the floor.
With plenty of scoring ability on both sides, this should be an exciting game to watch. Louisiana's solid play on its home floor should continue in this one though, as FAU oftentimes appears lost away from the comforts of the Sunshine State.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 77, Florida Atlantic 69
02/16 10:33:57 ET