In what was a defensively played contest by both teams, Florida Atlantic came out the winner, knocking off Middle Tennessee tonight 62-51 at FAU Arena.
Neither team shot too well, or took very good care of the ball. Collectively, the squads combined for just 20% from long range on a 4-of-20 showing.
But the Owls took command on the glass, and made baskets when they had to.
“When you play Middle Tennessee you are in for a battle; they come out and they get after you”, said Coach Mike Jarvis afterwards. “It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.”
The win completes a regular season sweep of the Blue Raiders and marks the first time the Owls (16-6, 8-0) have done so.
It also ties a program record for the most consecutive wins (eight) set back in the 1989-90 season, FAU’s second year on the court.
Middle Tennessee (9-12, 4-4) was scoreless the first 3:32 of action, and FAU didn’t find too much consistency themselves until a 6-0 run by Ray Taylor put the Owls on top 31-21 with 1:45 to play in the first half.
With Kore White being double teamed in the post, and Greg Gantt having a relatively quiet night, someone had to step up.
That would end up being Taylor, who had a game high 21 points to go with a pesky four steals.
“Both times when we’ve played Middle Tennessee he has had his best scoring games because he’s played his best defense. When you play good defense, good things happen to you on the offensive end’, Jarvis said.
The Owls led at intermission 33-24 despite committing 12 turnovers in the frame.
The Blue Raiders swarmed to the ball at every opportunity in the second half, but never could get closer than four points as the Owls mounted their largest lead at 58-43 with 2:12 to play after a Taylor free throw.
Brett Royster posted 10 points to go with seven rebounds for FAU.
Florida Atlantic will conclude a three game home stand this Saturday against Western Kentucky at 7:00 p.m. The Hilltoppers beat FIU tonight 81-78 in Miami to pick up their third straight win.
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