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Preview: WKU @ FAU

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Preview: WKU @ FAU

WKU (9-6) @ FAU (4-12)
Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009
7:00 p.m. ET


Fox College Sports (FCS) - available via Comcast Digital Cable channel 723 and/or DirectTV channel 617 - will televise the game live. 640 AM with audio links available via FAUSPORTS.com. Evan Cohen (play-by-play) will call the game for WFTL on Saturday. Live scoring via GAMETRACKER and an additional video feed can also be accessed on FAUSPORTS.com.


The Owls are beginning their third season in the Sun Belt Conference and have played a home-and-home series with Western Kentucky in each of the last two years. A Sun Belt Conference tournament game in 2007 brings the series up to five games, which WKU leads 4-1. FAU defeated WKU 78-73 on February 14, 2007 in Bowling Green, but have lost both games against the Hilltoppers at the FAU Arena, including a 88-78 setback on March 1 of last season.


The Owls (4-12) are finishing a tough 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. FAU lost its 10th-striaght on the road and seventh-straight overall, dropping a 59-57 decision to Middle Tennessee State Thursday in Murfreesboro. FAU's defense held the Blue Raiders to just 22 points by halftime and led throughout, but lost at the buzzer, 59-57. The Owls should benefit from an upcoming schedule that has the team playing 5 of its next 7 at home. Senior G Paul Graham III (17.4 ppg) has emerged as one of the league's top scorers. Graham is carrying the load for a FAU squad that is limited to just eight available scholarship players. Senior PG Carderro Nwoji (9.2 ppg) has been knocking down shots from the perimeter, going 4 for 5 and scoring 10 points in the first half Thursday at MTSU. Freshmen guards and prep-school players from a year ago Shavar Richardson (10.8 ppg) and Alex Tucker (4.4 apg) are playing well in extended minutes. 6-foot-8 sophomore C Brett Royster (1.9 bpg) continues to be one of the best shot-blockers in the league, ranking 3rd among all SBC players in blocks (31) this season.


First-year head coach Ken McDonald, who was an assistant coach at the University of Texas in each of the last four seasons, has the Hilltoppers out to a 9-6 record and 3-1 start in the Sun Belt Conference. Junior guard A.J. Slaughter scores a team-high 16.2 points per game. Sophomore guard Steffphron Pettigrew - who played just 11 minutes per game and averaged 3.8 points as a freshman last year - poured in 28 points in 37 minutes against FIU Thursday. 50% shooting and a late run were not enough for WKU to overcome a 15-point FIU second-half lead, eventually losing 81-79 to the Golden Panthers in Miami last time out. The Toppers shoot an exceptional 39.7% from the 3-point line, which ranks No. 20 nationally. WKU made national news earlier in the year, beating No. 3 Louisville 68-54 on a neutral floor in Nashville and following that win up with a 67-63 home victory over Georgia. More recently WKU soundly beat Troy (99-76) and UALR (79-47) at home before losing on road to Mississippi State (95-67) and FIU (81-79).


FAU - 2


Welcome home - FINALLY.  For the next two games FAU will enjoy their home floor.  WKU is still stinging from a recent loss to FIU by two points, and will surely be emotionally charged.  Can the Owls  make it an 0-fer for the Toppers road swing into the Sunshine State?  Paul Graham was not too hot last game, but should have a better shooting night tonight.  Key stats to watch will be turnovers and rebounding.  The Owls have to control the ball and not turn it over.  They have what it takes to get this win.  But it can go either way.  Expect another close one.


Source:  FAU Media Relations
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