Florida Atlantic (5-7) at Troy (5-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 27, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trojan Arena (6,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: FAU 3-2, Troy 3-3. Away Record: FAU 1-5, Troy 1-4. Neutral Record: FAU 1-0, Troy 1-1. Conference Record: FAU 1-1, Troy 0-2. Series Record: Troy leads, 19-10.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling Sun Belt Conference squads square off on Thursday night, as the Troy Trojans play host to the Florida Atlantic Owls.
Since starting the season at 2-4, FAU has shown its more streaky side of late. The Owls opened up December on a three-game win streak, highlighted by a 72-65 triumph over Arkansas State in their Sun Belt opener, but from there they slipped into a three-game game losing streak, most recently falling at No. 6 Indiana on Dec. 21, 88-52.
The high-point of Troy's early season has been a three-game win streak in mid- November, which included victories over Chattanooga (68-61) and Southeast Missouri State (59-56) in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. But it hasn't had much to cheer about since as the Trojans are currently losers of six of their last seven games, and while they fought hard at Utah Valley in their latest outing on Dec. 19, they eventually fell in overtime, 67-64.
These conference rivals split a pair of meetings last season, leaving Troy with a 19-10 series advantage.
FAU's inconsistencies this year can be easily explained by its erratic shooting, as it makes just 38.8 percent of its field goal attempts for an average of 65.0 ppg. It's difficult to judge the Owls too harshly for their performance the last time out, as they had to go on the road to face one of the nation's elite teams, but the fact remains that they shot just 33.9 percent from the floor in the blowout loss, including 3-of-15 from 3-point range. Greg Gantt was responsible for nearly half of his team's scoring output with 25 points, but he needed a slew of shots to get there, going 9-of-21 from the field. The rest of the team combined for just 10 field goals. Gantt is the conference's most prolific scorer this season, putting up 21.8 ppg with impressive percentages from beyond the arc (.425) and from the foul line (.873). Stefan Moody has been a solid second option for FAU with 15.0 ppg, but no one else averages more than 6.8 ppg.
Troy held a lead over Utah Valley in the final minutes of its latest game, but it was unable to close the deal in regulation or overtime as it suffered its fifth loss of six points or less. The team shot a disappointing 37.5 percent from the floor in the defeat, and while it drained seven 3-pointers, 25 attempts were needed to do so. Leading the way off the bench was Tevin Calhoun with 18 points, while Ray Chambers, Antoine Myers and Emil Jones each scored 10 points. Chambers (12 rebounds) and Jones (10 rebounds) had double-doubles. On the season, the Trojans are also a poor shooting team, making only 39.3 percent of their field goal attempts for 62.5 ppg, and while they connect on more than seven treys per contest, they do so at just a 32 percent clip. Jones is the team's leader in scoring (10.2 ppg), rebounding (6.2 rpg), blocks (10) and steals (22), while Hunter Williams just misses double figures with his 9.9 ppg.
With more than its fair share of close games in the early part of the season, Troy is a few unlucky bounces away from being above .500. The Trojans always seem to play tight games at home, and against an inconsistent FAU squad, they should be able to win their first conference game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 80, Florida Atlantic 70
12/27 10:34:16 ET