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Preview: FAU @ MTSU

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Preview: FAU @ MTSU

FAU (4-11) @ MTSU (9-5)
Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009
8:00 p.m. ET


640 AM with audio links available via FAUSPORTS.com. Steve Bishop (play-by-play) will call the game for WFTL.


FAU claimed a 75-67 win over MTSU at the FAU Arena in the two team's last meeting, February 23, 2008. The Owls are beginning their third Sun Belt season and have played a home-and-home series with Middle Tennessee State in each of the last two years. Middle Tennessee joined the Sun Belt in 2000-01. The two teams have met a total of five times, with MTSU winning a neutral site, non-conference game in December of 2005. MTSU owns a 4-1 all-time series edge and have won both meetings in Murfreesboro, including a 61-57 win on Jan. 9th of last season.


The Owls (4-11) are in the midst of a six-game stretch where they are playing five tournament teams from a year ago [UAB (NIT), Kentucky (NCAA), South Alabama (NCAA), Miami (NCAA) and Western Kentucky (NCAA)] and the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt, Middle Tennessee State. Despite 25 points from senior guard Paul Graham III and 21 from classmate Carlos Monroe, FAU slipped to 0-3 in the Sun Belt after dropping a 74-69 decision at home to league rival South Alabama last Thursday. FAU will be looking to snap a six-game losing streak when they play MTSU. Due to injury and eligibility just seven scholarship players were available vs. Miami Monday night. Despite being shorthanded FAU trailed the `Canes by just five at halftime and were in the game deep into the second half. Guard Paul Graham III is having a terrific senior season, eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau for his career vs. UMKC on Nov. 22 and has upped his scoring output to a career-best 17.5 points per game. He is one of the top scorers in the Sun Belt and is looking like a strong candidate for first team all-league honors. F Carlos Monroe (14.2 ppg/5.6 rpg) is expected to play Thursday night at MTSU after sitting out against Miami for academic reasons. Freshman starter G Shavar Richardson averages double figures in scoring (10.9 ppg) and back-court teammate PG Carderro Nwoji poured in a season-high six 3s last time out against UM.


Seventh-year head coach Kermit Davis and his Blue Raiders (9-5) were picked the win the league this season by the Sun Belt's coaches. Nine letterwinners returned from a MTSU team that advanced into the 2008 SBC tournament final last season. The Blue Raiders have won five-straight and are off to a 3-0 start in the SBC after beginning the year winning just 4 of their first 9. Davis is armed with one of the league's best players in junior F Desmond Yates (18.9 ppg). Yates scored 25 in an 89-80 overtime win at North Texas last week and made 8-of-13 from the field helping MTSU to an 82-67 victory at South Alabama on Saturday. MTSU scores 73.9 points per game - 80+ in each of its first three Sun Belt games - and scores efficiently, shooting 47% from the field as a team. Defensively, teams are managing just 63 points per game against the Blue Raiders.


MTSU - 14


FAU is finishing a 10 of 12 stretch on the road tonight, while MTSU  is 3-0, is at home, and is favored to win the Eastern Conference.  The way FAU has played thier last two outtings against much better competition, and the return on Monroe (who is in Mufreesboro, and will play tonight for FAU) leads one to believe they can keep this game to single digits.  It will take continued strong shooting to keep pace with MTSU's overall game, but FAU should fair better than the 14 point line out of Vegas.  The question will be whether Jarvis continues the air assault used against Miami, or reverts back to the Owls traditional season offense.  Owls fair much better than -14, but still not quite enough reserves in the tank for the "W" on the road against a strong MTSU team.

MTSU - 7

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