Hold The Line
What: WKU (8-11, 3-4) vs FAU (16-6, 8-0)
When: Saturday, Jan. 29th @ 7:00 PM EST
Where: FAU Arena
TV: Fox College Sports (FCS) - DirecTV Channel 617, Comcast Digital 724
Live Video: None
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Owls GameTracker
WKU Team Site: Here
G Kahlil McDonald 6.2 ppg
G Caden Dickerson 5.1 ppg
F Sergio Kerusch 15.8 ppg
F Steffphon Pettigrew 14.6 ppg
F Juan Pattillo 13.4 ppg
G Ray Taylor 12.0 ppg
G Greg Gantt 14.6 ppg
G Pablo Bertone 3.2 ppg
F Kore White 9.8 ppg
F Brett Royster 7.8 ppg
Despite trailing 8-2 all-time against the Hilltoppers, the Owls made history in knocking off WKU 78-73 at Diddle Arena back on January 14th, handing them their worst conference start in 38 seasons.
Greg Gantt's 18 points paced a strong offensive showing by Florida Atlantic, which was aided by Alex Tucker's 12 assists.
WKU at a Glance
Western Kentucky has had its fair share of struggles this season starting off league play with four straight losses including one to the Owls.
However, after last night’s 81-78 defeat of Florida International, the Hilltoppers have now won three straight conference games, and are playing some of the year’s best basketball.
Senior forward Juan Pattillo recorded his tenth double-double of the season in the win over FIU, scoring 20-points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but managed to save his best for last, hitting a jump shot with seconds reaming to seal the victory.
“It was a big win,” Pattilo said. “I really wasn’t feeling much, I just knew I was open and I was going to shoot it.”
With the win, the Hilltoppers have sparked some confidence heading into this Saturday night’s matchup with FAU, and head coach Ken McDonald has taken notice.
“We put ourselves in position to win the game and we made plays to win it – and that’s a good thing for this basketball team,” McDonald said. “We’re chugging along, and we’re going to just keep fighting.”
In the game earlier this month with the Owls, it was senior Steffphon Pettigrew who had a big night for Western Kentucky, pouring in a career-high 31 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort. Pettigrew has continued his strong play during the win streak, and is averaging 12.3 points per game in those victories.
Outside of Pettigrew and Pattillo, the third forward that has found production is senior Sergio Kerusch. Ranking third in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring at 15.8 points per game, Kerusch has reached double figures in the past nine outings.
The Hilltoppers are one of the conference’s top rebounding squads, averaging 37.3 boards per contest, but have allowed opponents to average 38.4 rebounds, a mark that is second worst in the league.
Western Kentucky is 4-5 this season on the road, but has won their last two games away from home.
FAU at a Glance
Florida Atlantic tied its all time winning streak as a program with eight last night setting down a scrappy Blue Raider bunch 62-51, and will go for a new all-time mark of nine on Saturday against the Toppers.
The Owls, who set a new season high for steals, have now outshot their opponents in field goal percentage in the last eight games straight. Conversely, FAU set season lows for three point percentage, assists, and three pointers. The win also notched the 10th 20+ point contest of Ray Taylor's career.
But a mark of different sorts is featured tomorrow as well. A bit of controversy surrounds just how many wins Coach Mike Jarvis has "officially". Some hold a NCAA ordered vacation of 43 games has him at 356, while FAU recognizes 399 per the contest's game notes. It's worth noting that the NCAA has left it up to Florida Atlantic as to how they wish to publish the mark, and that the players will be supporting Jarvis for number 400 while considering it an "honor" to do so.
No matter how you look at it, the games took place, Jarvis coached, and his teams won. So we will just call a potential victory on Saturday Jarvis' "400th on the court win".
As for the Toppers, despite taking them on their home court earlier, Jarvis is still singing the same song - for now.
"Playing much better since we played them...bigger, slower, more zone", Jarvis said. "It's going to be a battle".
The crowd at FAU Arena could be another doozy with 15 tons of snow on hand for a "White Out" that will begin at 5:00 p.m. for students, alumni and fans to partake in, and the game being televised on FCS.
The basketball staff will participate in the Coaches vs. Cancer Weekend.
Owl's Nest Prediction
Saturday preludes the seventh home contest of the 2010-11 slate. Despite losing one, FAU has posted an average scoring margin of +8.9 points during them.
Like the Blue Raiders, the Toppers are starting to find a rhythm and an identity - without having a true point guard.
They might be strong on the boards head to head with the Owls, but they don't find solace in defense (+7.4 ppg) or turnovers (+4.4).
FAU earns their second regular season sweep tomorrow, and Jarvis gets his "400th on the court win".
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