Men's Hoops Preview: FAU @ Western Kentucky
FAU (7-9, 3-2) @ WKU (9-5, 2-1)
When: Thursday, Jan. 14th - 8:00PM EST
Where: Bowling Green, KY - Diddle Arena
TV: Fox College Sports (FCS), DirecTV Channel 617
Live Video: WKU Pay Per View
ESPN 760 Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Here
WKU Site: Here
G Ray Taylor 16.4 ppg
G Greg Gantt 14.3 ppg
G Alex Tucker 4.3 ppg
F Sanchez Hughley 9.8 ppg
F Brett Royster 10.1 ppg
G A.J. Slaughter 16.6 ppg
G Jamal Crook 2.0 ppg
G Caden Dickerson 3.0 ppg
F Steffphon Pettigrew 13.6 ppg
C Jeremy Evans 9.8 ppg
WKU owns a 6-1 series advantage over FAU heading into Thursday night. The Owls shocked the Hilltoppers at home 78-73 in what some WKU fans called the FAU St. Valentines Day Massacre on Feb 14, 2007.
FAU at a Glance
The Owls picked up their seventh win on the season with a 74-61 victory over ULM last Saturday at FAU Arena.
Florida Atlantic was ferocious on the defensive end, while forcing 21 Warhawk turnovers.
The talent level rises on Thursday.
"Anytime you go to Western to play, you know you're going to play a good team. We're playing against probably the best all-around guard in the league come Thursday in Slaughter", said Mike Jarvis.
"Looking forward to see how the guys play. This will be a good chance to see how we do in a game that is potentially very important on the road. Whether or not the guys play with the same confidence they play with at home."
"Test driving" the car he calls his team, Jarvis' agenda continues to include finding the right match-ups to fill the win column.
DeMonte Simpson, who saw significant time earlier this season as a starter, has only been on the court 1 minute in the last two games combined. But, having seen positive results recently, Jarvis plans to keep the small line-up in tact - with slight reservation.
"That certainly has been good for us and we're gonna see if it continues to be. As long as its producing we'll go with whatever line-ups win it. It's (line-up) usually going to be eight on a given night, that doesn't mean its the same eight every night", Jarvis said.
The Owls are currently second in the league in points per game with 74.8, but next to last in field goals made at 40.8%.
However, a +2.19 turnover margin, and 13.7 offensive rebounds per contest are both good for the top spot amongst Sun Belt members.
WKU at a Glance
Last time out for WKU, Denver slid past the Hilltoppers 72-67. The Pioneers connected on 15-17 attempts through the first 14 minutes of the second period, which was too much to overcome for WKU. Slaughter scored 28 points for the Hilltoppers in the loss - two points shy of his career high.
Slaughter, the preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year pick, leads WKU in scoring with 16.6 ppg. Steffphon Pettigrew (13.6) and Sergio Kerusch (13.4) follow closely behind.
Western Kentucky ranks 10th in the league in scoring this season with 67.2 ppg, but only 61.8 ppg at home in the Coach McDonald era.
Since February 2007, the Hilltoppers have won 34 of their last 36 games at Diddle Arena. Aside from a 64-63 loss to Indiana State earlier this season, the only other loss was to FAU.
In the latest RPI rankings, WKU comes in at 48th.
Owl's Nest Prediction
WKU is a good team No doubt about it. But don't feel the game will end up in +double digits when it is all said and done.
The paper trail favors FAU in a lot of areas - rebounding, and FG% being two. And, with a stellar night from long range, the Owls could pull off the upset; as they did previously in 2007.
However, the emotional factor is something to be accounted for. The Hilltoppers are still stinging from their recent loss to UD and will be looking to take it out on the Owls - despite FAU's riding into Bowling Green on a high note.
If the Owls can maintain two halves of productivity, the game could be close at the end. But it's a lot to ask for on the road at Diddle Arena given their youth.
WKU will likely chalk up win number 10 on the season.