Owls Face Pressure in the Windy City
What: Florida Atlantic (8-5, 2-0) vs DePaul (5-6, 0-0)
When: Wednesday, Dec. 22nd @ 8:30 PM EST
Where: Allstate Arena
Live Video: DePaul BlueTube
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Here
DePaul Team Site: Here
G Ray Taylor 10.7 ppg
G Alex Tucker 9.3 ppg
G Greg Gantt 13.8 ppg
F Jordan McCoy 4.5 ppg
F Brett Royster 7.8 ppg
G Jeremiah Kelly 5.9 ppg
G Brandon Young 14.4 ppg
F Mike Stovall 10.8 ppg
F Cleveland Melvin 9.3 ppg
C Krys Faber 9.1 ppg
Wednesday marks the first ever meeting between the programs.
FAU at a Glance
Florida Atlantic finally wraps up its "NBA Road Trip" against the Blue Demons in their second Big East showdown on the year. The team, which left Boca Raton back on December 10th, has performed well during the span.
"It's a great trip at 3-1, but we're going to try and go for 4-1", said Coach Mike Jarvis. "It would be great time to go home, especially coming off of victories."
Last time out on Sunday night, FAU struggled to maintain ball control, but Ray Taylor scored 20 points as the Owls hung on to slip past ULM 60-58 and move to 2-0 in Sun belt play. Taylor, who scored 24 in FAU's previous outing against Troy, received Sun Belt Player of the Week honors after the effort.
Greg Gantt, on the other hand, had a tough go of things seeing well under his average in minutes and points.
"He'll bounce back. In a way it is kind of good to know your leading scorer can have an awful night and you can still win", said Jarvis.
The Blue Demons may be new to the Owls, but Jarvis has faced off against Purnell before. The two met on the hardwood in the Atlantic 10 Conference during the 1995-98 seasons when Jarvis was at George Washington and Purnell led the Dayton. With a 5-1 mark against Purnell during that span, he knows what to expect tomorrow - pressure.
"I hope the refs bring their whistles, they are going to have their hands all over you", remarked Jarvis. "If we can take care of the ball we have a chance to win."
After three straight solid performances, Brett Royster's 47 blocks is good enough for 3rd place in NCAA DI rankings.
The Owls recently slipped past MTSU to become the 2nd best overall shooting team in the league with a 44.4% mark.
DePaul at a Glance
After posting eight wins and a 1-17 mark in conference play last season, it was time for a change in Chicago.
Accordingly, the Blue Demons are in a transition period under Purnell, learning a new system, and rebuilding at the same time. Leaving the ACC and Clemson University, Purnell said he took the job for the challenge most of all, and will go for his 400th career victory on Wednesday.
Led by Tony Freeland's 16 points, DePaul used a game defining 25-12 second half run en route to a 81-74 win over Loyola-Chicago last Saturday. The Blue Demons had five players in double figures in the well rounded affair.
"Obviously we are very pleased to get a win over Loyola", said Coach Oliver Purnell. "I thought the tempo of the game was in our favor. Our pressure really wore on them."
While pressure defense is a staple that works to create turnovers for DePaul, rebounding has been an issue for the Blue Demons.
"What kept us from playing really well is the thing that's kept us from playing all year long, and that's our inability to rebound", Purnell said. "We'll continue to work...and hopefully we'll slowly get better at that."
Although similar to the Owls in scoring distribution, style of points is not. Freshman guard Brandon Young (10-of-21, 47.6%) is the Blue Demon's biggest threat from long range for a squad that struggles beyond the arc at 26.8%.
The Blue Demons are 25-5 all time against the Sun Belt, most recently knocking off FIU 72-60 in 2005.
Owl's Nest Prediction
FAU has a slight advantage in turnovers per game and that will be tested come game time. But they really excel head to head from long range. The Owls own tosses from downtown at a +7% margin. And given the differential in shots from that location between the teams (+ 2 FAU), it's worth a few points.
Despite knocking off USF at FAU Arena, going to claim some "Big East" home advantage in this one.
However, the Owls could be right in the thick of things come crunch time late - which they have excelled at.
It's refreshing to look at Florida Atlantic this year in comparison to recent seasons and think they could upset another "Big Six" squad on the road. Catching the Blue Demons early in the midst of rebuilding the "New Era of the Same Tradition" doesn't hurt that thought process.
There have been no trackbacks yet