Alex Tucker sinks a career high 19 points as Florida Atlantic defeats South Florida for the first time
Eleven straight losses to the Bulls had the Owls seeing red tonight. Not only in the fans shirts lining FAU Arena seating, but in new uniforms that had been presented to them before hand as well.
“We didn’t expect to wear red, so it was a surprise”, said forward Kore White. “That just set it off; we knew we had to perform.”
And it showed, as Florida Atlantic (5-4) knocked off in state opponent South Florida 50-42 for just the first time before 1,593 in Boca Raton.
The win marks the second all-time program victory against a Big East opponent, and the second straight over a member of the “Big Six” as well. Last Tuesday FAU defeated Mississippi State 61-59.
“It’s big for the school because it’s never happened in it’s history. I’m just happy to be a part of it”, said Alex Tucker.
Using a strategy employed against MSU in the second half, the Owls went to a zone often; once again paying dividends as the Bulls tossed up a dismal 1-of-16 from long range on the night.
Scoring the games first points, Jarrid Famous sank two free throws to give USF it’s only lead of the night at 2-0.
Florida Atlantic led 24-18 at intermission, holding the Bulls to their lowest half on the year. The previous low of 19 was set against Texas Tech.
South Florida (5-4) would close the gap to a single basket on number of occasions mid way through the second half, but each time the Owls responded.
The Bulls had their best chance at pulling ahead after converting a three point play to trail 43-42 with just over three minutes left.
But they came up dry thereafter as the Owls’ defense forced two turnovers, and three missed shots down the stretch.
Tucker, who scored a career high 19 points, was perfect at the line for FAU (7-of-7) connecting five times in the closing minutes.
“Down the stretch we kept getting stops”, said Tucker. “Came down and scored two out of three times. When that stretch was going on, I knew we had a good chance of winning.”
A much taller team, the Bulls held a +6.4 rebounding margin against opponents coming into tonight’s contest but saw FAU dominated the glass 35-29.
“We knew that (rebounding) was going to be a point of emphasis”, said White, who finished with 11 points and six grabs. “The outcome showed which team wanted to rebound more.”
Augustus Gilchrist, who dropped 27 points against the Owls during last season’s 78-58 loss in Tampa, finished with just five.
“Last year we let Augustus get easy, wide open shots. This year we had a whole game plan around him…doubling the post”, Tucker said.
FAU now embarks on what Mike Jarvis has referred to as an “NBA road trip”, playing five straight away from Boca Raton. It will be a true test for the still young squad.
Hofstra University will be first up, next Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
The Owls are hopeful to make it 1-1 against members of the Colonial Athletic Association for 2010 after losing 66-51 to George Mason last weekend.