Beat The Heat
What: Louisiana (9-14, 6-5) vs FAU (18-8, 10-2)
When: Saturday, Feb. 12th @ 7:00 PM EST
Where: FAU Arena
Live Video: None
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Owls GameTracker
Louisiana Team Site: Here
G Raymone Andrews 5.7 ppg
G Bryant Mbamalu 6.6 ppg
F J.J. Thomas 10.7 ppg
F Travis Bureau 10.7 ppg
F La’Ryan Gary 9.1 ppg
G Ray Taylor 11.8 ppg
G Greg Gantt 14.2 ppg
G Alex Tucker 7.7 ppg
F Kore White 8.5 ppg
F Brett Royster 8.2 ppg
FAU enjoys a slim 3-2 margin in the squad's five meetings. Last time on the hardwood, former Owl Sanchez Hughley came up big as Florida Atlantic withstood a late UL surge to down the Cajuns 76-72 at FAU Arena. The Owls, who had five players in double figures, were paced by Greg Gantt's game high 23 points.
UL at a Glance
Originally picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference preseason polls, Louisiana enters Saturday night’s matchup with the Owls only two games back in the Sun Belt Conference West standings.
Having secured their sixth straight win on Thursday with a 72-68 defeat of FIU, the Ragin’ Cajuns have tallied their longest streak of victories in six years and are playing some of their best basketball at the right time.
It was clutch free throw shooting, and the play of guard Travis Bureau, that helped seal the deal against the Golden Panthers.
Bureau, who posted 18 points in the victory, has been a solid contributor the past four seasons for the Ragin' Cajuns, but more importantly his efforts have been one of the main reasons the team is riding a six-game win streak.
Guard Randell Daigle, a preseason third-team all-conference selection, hasn’t quite lived up to the billing that many had given him, and is averaging only 8.9 points per game, breaking into the double-digit scoring figures just seven times.
However, Daigle has been able to knock down the three pointer and is hitting an average of 1.6 per game. The Ragin’ Cajuns collectively shoot .335 percent from behind the arc, ranking seventh in the conference. The average shooting from long range should be good news for the Owls, as Thursday's loss to Denver saw FAU surrender six three pointers.
Over the span of the Ragin’ Cajuns six-game win streak one of the keys to victory has been winning the close game. Four of the six contests were decided by five points or less or went into overtime.
On the road Louisiana has compiled a 2-10 recorded, winning their last two contests away from home. The team’s 72.0 points per game ranks fourth in the conference, while the scoring defense giving up 73.9 points per game ranks tenth.
FAU at a Glance
A rough spot was bound to happen at some point in the season, and that took place against Denver on Thursday at Magness Area. After a close start, the Pioneers took full control of the contest thereafter building a double digit lead they would not relinquish, and handing the Owls an embarrassing 69-42 loss - their worst on the season.
"We wish you could make believe it never happened but it did. So what we've got to do is find a way to re-focus and regroup. The good thing is we're not going to have a lot of time. It's good that we are playing right away. We'll go out and play Saturday, and I'm sure we'll play a lot better", said coach Mike Jarvis on the message he would deliver to the team afterwards.
FAU set season lows in a number of categories, but Denver's three point shooting was once again lights out - the second straight game the Owls have allowed that happen with FIU going 64.3% the game prior. However, Jarvis points to overall defense as the main culprit in the Pioneer's success.
"It wasn't really the three. For the game they get six. That's not where the game was lost. The game was lost basically by us not playing the full possession on defense", explained Jarvis.
Long range points aren't coming as easy for the Owls either, as they have now been outshot five straight games by opponents from behind the arc. This is a downward trend over that of last year. Accordingly, 2010-11's mark of 32.9% falls well short of last year's 38.1%.
Also of note on Thursday was an insufficient four assists. On the year, each time FAU has dished the rock less than five times it has resulted in a loss.
On a bright note, a win on Saturday combined with an MTSU loss will allow the Owls to clinch the Eastern Division. A win combined with a Western Kentucky loss will secure a first round bye. Both would be best obviously.
Ironically, FAU still owns the top spot in the league in field goal percentage defense at 42.3% pg.
Owl's Nest Prediction
The style of play will favor the Owls more on Saturday against the Ragin' Cajuns, as the perimeter will not be the focal point it has been over the last two games.
On paper, FAU has a commanding advantage defensively while the Cajuns produce more points overall.
However, the Owls take much better care of the ball, and that will be worth some points. Additionally, one has to believe Florida Atlantic will come out pumped at home after Thursday's set back.
UL is a much improved team over the last month of play but like the Owls in this one. Just not by double digits.
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