Front Court Test
What: Arkansas State (7-9, 2-1) vs FAU (10-6, 3-0)
When: Saturday, Jan. 8th @ 7:00 PM EST
Where: FAU Arena
Live Video: None
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Owls' GameTracker
Arkansas State Team Site: Here
G Rashad Allison 8.1 ppg
G Donald Boone 9.7 ppg
G Trey Finn 8.4 ppg
F Brandon Peterson 8.3 ppg
F Martavius Adams 13.4 ppg
G Ray Taylor 10.7 ppg
G Alex Tucker 8.3 ppg
G Greg Gantt 15.1 ppg
F Kore White 8.9 ppg
F Brett Royster 8.0 ppg
Saturday night’s matchup will mark the sixth all-time meeting in the series, with the Red Wolves holding a 3-2 edge over the Owls. Last year when the teams squared off in the Burrow, Greg Gantt and Alex Tucker scored 16 points apiece and FAU cruised to a 78-63 victory.
Arkansas State at a Glance
After losing five straight games to start off the season, the Red Wolves have quickly rebounded to win six of their past nine contests.
One of the biggest reasons for the quick turnaround, and Arkansas State’s 2-1 record in conference play, has been the efforts of junior forward Martavius Adams. The 6’8” 255lb transfer from Oklahoma State, leads the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game and averages 7.3 rebounds.
Despite Adams career high 20 points Thursday night, the Red Wolves fell 75-70 to FIU on the road, snapping a three-game winning streak in the process. Although the squad rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to tie the game, poor defense down the stretch became fatal to the final result.
“It was disappointing a little bit. We didn’t guard them as well as we needed to throughout the course of the game,” said head coach John Brady. “We had a couple of opportunities when the score was tied that we didn’t convert and that was disappointing.”
But Thursday’s performance was uncharacteristic of Arkansas State, as the group ranks atop the Sun Belt Conference in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to only 41.2% percent shooting and 31.3% percent from behind the arc. FIU was able to hit 8-of-19 (42.1%) three pointers and shoot 40.7% from the floor.
The Red Wolves average 71.8 points per game, and are 4-0 overall in contests when they score above that mark.
Outside of Adams, another offensive option for Brady’s squad has been sophomore guard Trey Finn. Last week the guard claimed Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week honors after a 30-point performance in a win over Western Kentucky.
Arkansas State is 1-5 this season on the road after finishing 6-8 away from home last season.
The departure of highly touted Brandon Reed (16.8 ppg 2009-10), who left for Georgia Tech after just one season, likely has played a part in the downward trend.
FAU at a Glance
The Owls will play their third game in just over five days on Saturday. But they should be used to it by now after doing the same in the first leg of their "NBA Road Trip" during December.
On Thursday, FAU was forced to slow it down a few notches but retained control to pick up their third win in league play 65-57 over South Alabama. They have shown some versatility this season, notching victories against opponents with vastly differing offensive styles.
But rebounding was a concern as FAU got outmatched to the tune of 47-29; and a -15 deficit on the offensive glass.
"We gave up 24 offensive rebounds. If we do that Saturday, we probably don't win. So we've got a lot of work to do in that area", Jarvis said.
Of note for Saturday's tilt is the progression of Brett Royster towards the Sun Belt blocking crown. Currently, former UAB Blazer Alan Ogg holds the top spot with 266 career dismissals. Royster enters the contest with 262, and could surpass that mark tomorrow night if he picks up just one over his average of 3.62 bpg.
"He has great, great timing. He very seldom fouls, and when he blocks it, the ball stays in bounds and you have a chance of recovering it. He is not just knocking it into the stands like some guys", said Coach Mike Jarvis of Royster's forte.
The Owls are currently first in Sun Belt giveaways per game, and 2nd in FG% allowed. Sophomore Jordan McCoy recently took over as FAU's most proficient man from the floor with a 49.0% success rate on his attempts.
Owl's Nest Prediction
On a neutral court, the two squads are just about dead even. The Red Wolves lead in categories such as rebounding, free throws, and steals, but the Owls own blocks, shooting percentage, and turnovers.
Of interest will be how FAU adjusts to a decent frontcourt after having faced nothing formidable the last two outings, and if they can improve over earlier season's results when they have. The duo of Adams and Peterson will provide respectable subject matter for that test.
The Owls got the home court nod in the opening line, but this game has the potential to come down to the last shot.
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