GAME THREAD: South Alabama vs FAU - 02/23/12 @ 7:00PM
GAME THREAD: South Alabama vs FAU - 02/23/12 @ 7:00PM
What: South Alabama (15-10, 7-7) vs FAU (11-16, 7-7)
When: Thursday, Feb. 23rd @ 7:00 PM EST
Where: FAU Arena
Live Video: None
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Here
South Alabama Team Site: Here
G Freddie Goldstein 11.2 ppg
G Trey Anderson 5.8 ppg
G Mychal Ammons 9.2 ppg
F Antione Lundy 8.4 ppg
F Augustine Rubit 14.3 ppg
G Alex Tucker 4.6 ppg
G Ray Taylor 9.5 ppg
G Shavar Richardson 6.6 ppg
F Jordan McCoy 4.7 ppg
F Kelvin Penn 2.6 ppg
After knocking off the Owls 65-56 at the Mitchell Center earlier in the month, South Alabama brings an 8-4 all-time mark against Florida Atlantic into Saturday's contest. FAU used a 15-of-19 showing from the charity stripe in the first half to lead 32-26 at the break before matters did a 180' in the second frame with USA stepping up to the line 17 times to just seven for the Owls.
Florida Atlantic took it away nine times on the evening, however lost the the battle off the glass 38-30. Shavar Richardson and Greg Gantt each had 13 points on the loss. USA's Mychal Ammons led all scorers with 18 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double with nine grabs.
South Alabama at a Glance:
Having won five of their last six contests, the Jaguars are on a bit of a hot streak. Most recently, they repaid Western Kentucky for an earlier loss with a 66-61 victory on Saturday at the Mitchell Center. Augustine Rubit hauled in a game high 13 rebounds to go with 10 points. The Jaguar's 37.1% from the field was ironically the lowest percentage produced in a win this season.
Antione Lundy has replaced Javier Carter at the starting PF spot since the Jag's prior meeting versus the Owls. It made since initially, as Lundy dropped 15 points immediately therafter against WKU, but is a puzzling continuance with the senior averaging 7, 5, and 2 points since.
Accordingly, don't be surprised if Carter finds his way back into the early rotation at some point in the near future. Especially considering he was just two blocks away form a triple-double (10 pts, 10rbs 8, blk) on Saturday against the Hilltoppers. Additionally, the big man's 69 total dismissals through Feb. 19th ranks 14th nationally, and tied for third on USA's single-season career list.
The Jaguars are 3-2 at FAU Arena, while Head Coach Ronnie Arrow (109) needs just three more wins to set a new Sun Belt record for most career conference victories (111).
Come from behind performances are becoming a habit as of late for South Alabama, as they have returned from being down 10+ points the last two games in a row, and three of the last five.
FAU at a Glance:
The Blue Raiders completed a regular season sweep over the Owls with a 72-59 win in Murfreesboro last Staurday night. FAU led early in the first period before Middle Tennessee would swing the momentum for good as Florida Atlantic suffered through a scoring drought lasting over 5:00.
After trailing by as many as 18 points into the second half, the Owls closed the deficit to nine with 7:33 left to play behind a Kelvin Penn layup, but finished 2-of-7 from the field therafter as MTSU was near perfect at 5-of-6. Most noticeable was a 34-16 advantage in points in the paint for the evening.
However, a bigger issue looms for the team as they look to snap a two game skid and close out the season on a positive note:
What has happened to Greg Gantt?
The offensive shoulders of the team have just about fallen off with the junior going just 5-of-23 (21.7%) over the last three contests. Granted the front court has had its share of challenges on the year, but they have stepped it up as of late considering what is there and the last thing needed was for a normally reliable counterpart in Gantt to hit rock bottom during this point in the season.
"Slumps as we know, usually go from being physical to being more mental", said Coach Mike Jarvis. "When you're in a batting slump in baseball, and are a guy who hits home runs, you can keep swinging for the fence…or you might even think about laying down a bunt once in a while."
"In Greg's case, I think he can get out of this slump by getting a little closer to the basket. Instead of thinking three, think two, and one", Jarvis continued.
It's not all on Gantt however, with the Owls having now been outshot by the opposition in field goal percentage for the past six games (2-4) and sporting 0-7 when tossing up 34.8% or worse from the field for the season.
"We need good play out of our point guards", Jarvis said. "That's been the overall position this year that's probably been the biggest disappointment."
The Owls can clinch the fifth seed in the Sun Belt Tournament by winning their remaining two contests and a North Texas loss, or a single win against South Alabama and two losses by UNT. However, Jarvis isn't as concerned as much with achieving that status as he is in finishing the season strong.
"The team that won it last year (UALR) didn't have a day of rest, and they played a game the week of the tournament then went and won four", commented Jarvis. "The only thing that you hope for with the day of rest is that you avoid an injury or something along the way, I just hope that when we go there we play to win."
Shavar Richardson currently has 975 career points scored in an Owl uniform, lacking just 25 more to enter the 1,000 club along side fellow team mates Ray Taylor and Gantt. He'll need to be a bit more productive than his current mark of 6.6 ppg to do it, but is guaranteed at least three contests from here out to work with.
Owl's Nest Prediction
These close predictions are killing us, but the numbers are what they are. At least it is good for the fans, who have been enjoying solid hoops entertainment at FAU Arena and will likely experience the same again on Thursday night.