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Owls, Trojans Tip-off Sun Belt's 2010-11 Season

fautroy12-16-10preview

What: Florida Atlantic (6-5, 0-0) vs Troy (1-7, 0-0)

When: Wednesday, Dec. 16th @ 8:00 PM EST

Where: Trojan Arena

TV: None

Live Video: None

Internet Broadcast: Here

Live Stats: Here

Troy Team Site: Here

Probable Starters:

FAU

G Alex Tucker 9.7 ppg
G Dennis Mavin 7.7 ppg
G Greg Gantt 14.8 ppg
F Kore White 9.5 ppg
F Brett Royster 7.4 ppg

Troy

G Vernon Taylor 16.0 ppg
G Will Weathers 9.2 ppg
F Levan Patsatsia 11.4 ppg
F Shawntez Patterson 9.0 ppg
C Bernard Toombs 10.8 ppg

The series

Aside from Central Florida (28 games), the Owls have faced no other team as much as Troy. Thursday's contest will be the 26th meeting between the programs, with the Trojans out in front with a 17-to-8 all time advantage. Three of FAU's losses have been in OT, with one going to a second extra period. Troy is 3-1 at home against Florida Atlantic over the last four years, and 4-4 overall.

Last time on the court, Shavar Richardson drained a career high 31 points as the Owls slipped out of first place in Sun Belt standings behind a 86-80 setback at Trojan Arena. Troy shot 64.4% from the floor en route to the win.

The loss was the first of four straight for FAU to conclude the 2009-10 season.

FAU at a Glance

The Owls open Sun Belt play looking for their second win at the midpoint of a five game swing that will continue until December 23rd, when the team arrives back in Boca Raton.  The Trojans mark one of two straight league match-ups with Louisiana-Monroe next on the slate.

Poor shooting from long range dealt the Owls a 72-69 loss to Siena on Monday.

“We shot too many threes. We settled for threes because they were open and available, too open and too often. It was like fool’s gold", said Coach Mike Jarvis.

Ray Taylor, who continues to struggle from long range, finished 1-of-7 on the night. But, Jarvis wants the guard to keep firing away if he is given the chance.

"Ray is a dangerous weapon for us, and his best shot is his three point shot when he is open. That's what he's got to take."

It would be easy for the Owls to look past a struggling Trojan squad who has won just one game on the year, but Jarvis has the team focused on the importance of the tilt in league standings while ignoring the Trojans mark.

"We are taking every single game as it if was the Sun Belt championship game", Jarvis said. "When you look at teams this time of year, you can’t pay attention to their record."

"We've seen Troy, they've played a couple common opponents. They are going to play a two-three zone and make you shoot jump shots", said Jarvis. "You better make them, and they are going to shoot whenever they can."

Senior forward Brett Royster, who swatted a career high seven shots against Siena, leads the Belt in blocks with 3.2 per game.

Troy at a Glance

The Trojans come into Thursday stinging after their seventh straight loss. Troy has been at home only two times and on the road six; where they have dropped all contests.

The squad blew a nine point lead with under five minutes to play last Saturday against Miami (OH), eventually falling 80-73 to the Bobcats.

"It's easy to be disappointed because this was a game we felt like we should have been rewarded with a win", said head coach Don Maestri. "We can't break though. There is too much left this season. We are a better team now than we were two weeks ago.”

It's easy to see why, as the Trojans lost their top three scorers from last year in Brandon Hazzard (16.7), Michael Vogler (12.0), and Richard Delk (11.9).

Additionally, bitten by the injury bug, the Trojans are without 6'8" Colorado State transfer Flynn Clayman (hip), and JUCO transfer Nic Combs (hand). Both players are expected to make a return sometime in early January.

However, with scoring being evenly distributed across the starting line-up, only 1.8 ppg separates the group from averaging double figures collectively.

Troy is 1-5 in conference openers since joining the Sun Belt in 2005-06. Dropping Thursday's match-up would tie the program record for consecutive losses since moving to DI status.

Latest Line:

FAU -5

Owl's Nest Prediction

On paper, FAU owns a solid advantage in points allowed, and that accounts for the biggest reason they should come out on top at the final horn. Others include an advantage in free throw and field goal percentage.

Additionally, the combination of the last meeting against the Trojans, and the sour taste of one that got away against Siena, will provide an extra emotional edge for Florida Atlantic.

Troy is simply not the same team they were last year, and are rebuilding at present. Chemistry will come in time, but for now it's an easy choice.

FAU -4

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