GAME THREAD: FAU @ Louisiana-Lafayette - 12/31/11 @ 5:15 PM
GAME THREAD: FAU @ Louisiana-Lafayette - 12/31/11 @ 5:15 PM
What: Florida Atlantic (4-9, 0-0) vs Louisiana-Lafayette (6-8, 0-0)
When: Saturday, Dec. 31st @ 5:15 PM EST
Where: The Cajundome
Live Video: Ragin Cajuns PPV
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Here
Cajuns' Team Site: Here
G Ray Taylor 10.0 ppg
G Greg Gantt 13.2 ppg
G Omari Grier 11.1 ppg
G Pablo Bertone 9.5 ppg
F Jordan McCoy 3.6 ppg
G Ramone Andrews 5.9 ppg
G Josh Brown 9.4 ppg
G Bryant Mbamalu 6.6 ppg
F Darshawn McClellan 9.1 ppg
C Kadeem Coleby 10.8 ppg
The teams have split the six game all-time series at 3-3, however Florida Atlantic is yet to win at the Cajun Dome in two tries:
01/24/07 H W 75-72
12/29/07 A L 52-71
01/31/09 H W 63-47
12/12/09 A L 74-81
02/11/10 H W 76-72
02/12/11 H L 64-72
Last time on the court, ULL spoiled the night with 72-64 win over the Owls at FAU Arena. Although coughing up the rock 21 times, the Cajuns were a perfect 15-of-15 from the free throw line and doubled up the glass attack at 36-18. The Owls struggled to connect from outside, managing just 2-of-14 makes. Kore White (11), Shavar Richardson (11), and Alex Tucker (10) were all in double figures for FAU.
Owls at a Glance
Despite being heavily favored, Florida Atlantic could not overcome a disappointing 0-for-10 second half performance from three point land on Wednesday, eventually falling 67-60 to an over matched Siena squad. It was their fourth straight loss since knocking of Warner Southern 98-70 back on December 10th.
The Owls set a season low for point in a half with 21, but the lack of rebounding, and usually present shot contesting, prompted Head Coach Mike Jarvis to offer this fair assertion on his team's defensive effort: "They caught us sleeping the whole night."
No argument there. FAU just looked like a deer in the headlights at times, while Siena ran their stuff and bolted out of Boca Raton with an unexpected "W".
Florida Atlantic didn't get to the free throw line much at all either, which brings up an interesting point. The Owls are now 3-9 on the season after recording six or fewer attempts. On a positive note, the they did register 11 steals, and the last time that had happened was back in 2008 against FIU. Ironically, they continues to beat opponents in turnovers allowed (six straight), but have lost to five of them.
Moving forward into league play, White will have to show up with some semblance of consistency for the Owls to keep their spot as league favorite. The junior has just four points in each of the last two games, and a combined 3 rebounds.
Additionally, it become apparent that zone defense is a weak spot for the team, and they should expect to see much more of it now that the cat is out of the bag. Softening up the zone's inner belly requires ball movement to the top of the key and wings, with quick steps into the gaps until it has rocked too heavily to one side or the other. A well placed skip pass afterwards and there should be a clear shot. Unfortunately, FAU is like a Jekyll and Hyde team at present when shooting. One game their on, the next game their off.
The Owls enter Sun Belt play ranked 4th in offense (68.8 ppg), but 11th in defense (71.8 ppg). Free throw efficiency finds another 11th spot (62.1%), while 3PT defense is a league worst 40.5%. There is some solace to be had at 36.5% from long range (4th), and hopefully that goes up quick enough.
FAU's leading man Greg Gantt sits 9th amongst top Sun Belt scorers with 13.2 ppg.
Cajuns at a Glance
Coming off a 10 day game hiatus on Saturday, the Cajuns last snapped a two game slide in dramatic fashion, holding on for a 61-60 nail biter triumph over Central Florida. The Knights would not go easy though, making their way back from a double digit deficit mid way through the second frame. But the Cajuns shot nearly 60% overall, and took care at the charity stripe down the stretch to come away on the plus side.
"We battled well the entire game, we were able to hang on in the end", said Cajuns' Coach Bob Marlin. "It was a good victory for our team, and well deserved."
After missing six games, PF J.J. Thomas found his way back into the line-up. Although not in the normal starting role, he did knock in 12 points in 18 minutes of action off the bench, and looks to be returning to form quickly. Kadeem Coleby led UL with 20 points and nine rebounds after going scoreless against Robert Morris just one game prior.
Senior forward Scott Farrington is not listed for Saturday, after suffering a concussion earlier in the year.
ULL is 5-1 on the year when scoring 70+ points in a contest, but is 1-7 when opponents shoot 40% of higher. The Cajuns' 70.4 ppg has them one spot higher that the Owls in league scoring, while ranking 8th in points allowed at 66.9 pg. They employ an even based attack with a very slight advantage in back court shot attempts (50.7%). Guard Josh Brown will likely hoist up the most on any given night, but shares closely amongst his teammates.
The Cajuns were pegged to finish second in the west in the 2011-12 Sun Belt coaches preseason poll, and currently sit 5-1 on the year at home.
Former FAU head coach Rex Walter's San Francisco club escaped ULL earlier in the season 71-70 at War Memorial Gym.
Owl's Nest Prediction
Even though they lost, FAU's facing of the 2-3 zone last Wednesday might have been a blessing in disguise. ULL employed it against the Golden Knights, and it was effective. They are bound to do the same thing against Florida Atlantic after viewing game footage.
Although the Cajuns are allowing a collective a 35.5% FG at home on the year, the majority of competition beaten is not impressive: Houston Baptist, Nicholls State, McNeese State and Dillard. Average margin of victory: 30.5 points.
Since it appears Florida Atlantic only needs a showing of 40%+ from the floor to completely make a mess of matters, going with the Owls in a Vegas inverse. A better night of shooting must be in store.
Re: Game Preview: FAU @ Louisiana-Lafayette - 12/31/11 @ 5:15 PM
Ragin Cajuns Athletics - Cajuns at the Cajundome on New Year's Eve for Sun Belt Opener
11-12 Record____________________ 6-8
11-12 Sun Belt Record____________ 0-0
Last Game______________________ Dec. 21, 2011
vs. UCF W, 61-60
Head Coach____________________ Bob Marlin
UL Record____________________ 20-23 (2nd Season)
Career Record_________________ 368-189 (19th Season)
Marlin vs. FAU_________________ 1-0
Web Site_______________________ www.RaginCajuns.com
11-12 Record____________________ 4-9
11-12 Sun Belt Record____________ 0-0
Last Game______________________ Dec. 28, 2011
vs. Siena L, 60-67
Head Coach____________________ Mike Jarvis
FAU Record___________________ 46-62 (4th Season)
Career Record_________________ 364-264 (23rd Season)
Jarvis vs. UL__________________ 2-2
Web Site_______________________ www.FAUSports.com
Game Night Story Lines
>>> The Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball team vies for back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they face Florida Atlantic in the 2011-12 Sun Belt Conference opener at the Cajundome on New Year’s Eve.
>>> Louisiana has won four straight at home and is 5-1 at the Cajundome this season.
>>> The Ragin’ Cajuns defeated UCF 61-60 on Dec. 21 at the Cajundome in the team’s last outing before taking a nine-day break from action for the Christmas holiday.
>>> The Cajuns and Owls are meeting the first-ever New Year’s Eve game at the Cajundome. The last time a UL team played a home game on New Year’s Eve was Dec. 31, 1964 at Blackham Coliseum vs. Western Carolina (W, 105-94).
>>> The UCF game marked the end of non-conference play for 2011-12. Today’s meeting with FAU marks the first of 16 straight Sun Belt contests to end the season.
>>> UL begins its 21st season of competition in the Sun Belt Conference. The Cajuns are 14-6 all-time in SBC openers.
>>> UL and FAU meet in a SBC opener for the second time in the past three seasons. The Cajuns and Owls kicked off the SBC slate in 2009-10 at the Cajundome with UL posting an 81-74 victory on Dec. 12, 2009.
>>> UL moved a little closer to full strength with the return of J.J. Thomas vs. UCF. He had missed the previous six outings with lingering effects from an off-season surgery.
>>> The Cajuns have shot the ball well this season, shooting 40 percent or higher in 10 of 14 contests.
>>> The Cajuns are shooting 50.2 percent (167-of-333) at home this season and have held the opposition to a paltry 35.5 percent (115-of-324).
>>> The magic number for UL so far this year is 70. When scoring above 70 the Cajuns are 5-1. When scoring below 70 the squad is 1-7.
NO PLACE LIKE THE ‘DOME
>>> Last season the Ragin’ Cajuns posted a 10-4 record in the Cajundome – the 16th consecutive season with a .500 mark or better.
>>> In 24 of the previous 26 seasons, the Cajuns have recorded a winning record.
>>> Since the turn of the century, UL’s on-court record at the ‘Dome is 120-40 (.750).
>>> The Cajuns are 15-5 in the Cajundome under the direction of Bob Marlin.
>>> Louisiana has turned in a 25-9 record at the Cajundome since the 2009-10 season which includes an impressive 16-1 mark against Sun Belt opponents.
>>> Louisiana has gone 16-1 in Sun Belt play at the Cajundome the past two seasons (9-0 in 2009-10 and 7-1 in 2010-11).
>>> The only SBC loss in the ‘Dome since 2009-10 came in overtime vs. Middle Tennessee on Jan. 8, 2011 (L, 91-93).
BOUNCING BACK IN A BIG WAY
>>> Kadeem Coleby had a night to forget at Robert Morris on Dec. 17, finishing scoreless and fouling out in eight minutes of play.
>>> He bounced back in style with a season-high 20 points in addition to nine rebounds in the Cajuns win over UCF on Dec. 21.
AN EASTERN FLAIR
>>> Beginning with today’s FAU contest, the Cajuns’ first five Sun Belt games are against teams from the East Division.
>>> UL’s first division contest won’t occur until Jan. 19 at UALR.
DIVISION CHAMPIONS COLLIDE
>>> The Cajuns and Owls matchup features the two Sun Belt Conference division champions from the 2010-11 season (FAU won SBC East/UL won SBC West).
LAST TIME VS. FAU (Feb. 12, 2011 in Boca Raton – UL won 72-64)
>>> Florida Atlantic couldn’t overcome the Cajuns hot shooting, as UL hit 51 percent from the floor, including 54.5 percent from three-point range (6-of-11).
>>> UL held FAU to 40.4 percent shooting, including 14.3 percent from behind the arc (2-of-14). FAU’s last field goal came at the 10:59 mark. The Owls led 50-49 at that point.
>>> The turning point was an 8-0 run that increased the Cajuns lead to 11 with 4:20 remaining. Baskets by Randell Daigle, Travis Bureau and a second by Daigle preceded two from the free throw line by Raymone Andrews and gave the Cajuns a 68-57 lead.
>>> FAU responded with six straight points, all on free throws. J.J. Thomas then hit a tough running jumper as the shot clock expired to push the Cajuns lead back to seven points.
LAST TIME VS. FAU AT CAJUNDOME (Dec. 12, 2009 – UL won 81-74)
>>> UL held a 45-34 lead at half. The Cajuns shot 7-of-14 from three-point range, registered 16 points in the paint and scored 15 points off FAU turnovers.
>>> The Owls used their second 9-2 run of the second half to take a 58-57 lead with 8:44 remaining in the contest. Randell Daigle returned the lead to UL with a baseline jumper at 7:59.
>>> FAU drew within two points, 69-67, after a basket by Greg Gantt at 2:04. UL turned to Tyren Johnson on back-to-back possessions for inside baskets, the last coming at 1:03 for a 73-68 lead.
>>> UL’s Tyren Johnson and FAU’s Raymond Taylor both scored a game-high 23 points.
A SPECIAL WEAPON
>>> The UL bench has outscored the opponents bench in all but three games this season.
>>> Through 14 games, the UL bench is averaging 28.6 points per game.
>>> UL’s bench has reached 40 points three times (at San Francisco, vs. Nicholls State, vs. Dillard). The bench provided a season-high 52 points in the 102-38 win over Dillard.
>>> On average, the Cajuns bench is outscoring the opposition’s bench 28.6 to 24.1.
SERIES HISTORY (Tied 3-3, overall; Louisiana leads 2-0 in Cajundome)
>>> Series started when Florida Atlantic joined the Sun Belt Conference in the 2006-07 season.
>>> Today’s game marks the seventh meeting in this young series and third at the Cajundome.
>>> This is the youngest series for the Ragin’ Cajuns against any Sun Belt opponent (only the seventh meeting). The Troy series is the second youngest (10 meetings).
>>> The home team won the first five meetings. When Louisiana topped FAU 72-64 last season at FAU Arena it marked the first time in the series that the visiting team won.
>>> UL scored 81 points in the last Cajundome meeting (W, 81-74 on 12/12/09) and that total remains the most scored by either team in the series.
>>> The Ragin’ Cajuns have a chance to register back-to-back wins over the Owls for the first time in the series. Neither school has had a string of consecutive wins in the series.