GAME WEEK CAPSULE: FAU vs. MTSU | WKU - Jan 26th & 28th, 2023
What: #21 FAU (19-1, 9-0) vs. MTSU (13-7, 6-3) | WKU (11-9, 3-6)
When: Thur, Jan. 26th, @ 7:00 PM | Sat. Jan 28th, @ 4:00 PM
Where: The Burrow - Abessinio Court at Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena
Series: Blue Raiders lead 21-8 over the Owls, and Hilltoppers have a 17-8 advantage. This is FAU's first matchup against MTSU this year, as they have beaten WKU on Jan. 16.
TV Both Games: CBS Sports Network | Stadium
Radio Both Games: FoxSports 640
Live Stats Both Games: Here
Lines Both Games: MTSU FAU -8 | WKU FAU -12.5
FAU at a Glance
Offense - 78 PPG, 47% FG, 38% 3PT
Defense - 63 PPGA, 40% FGA, 33% 3PTA
Rebounding - 40 RPG Owls, 33 RPG Opponents
FAU concluded their Texas trip with style, staying undefeated in C-USA play and keeping their historic winning streak alive at 18. Not only that, they continue to go up in the national rankings as one of the hottest teams in the country.
The Owls improved from 24th to 21st in the latest AP Top 25 poll and appeared in USA Today's Top 25 Coaches Poll for the first time ever at 24th. Head coach Dusty May said it is very rewarding to see that in a sport that is almost becoming an individual sport.
"To see a true team of guys that really care about each other, embrace their role, and play unselfishly, to see these guys rewarded for all those things that we always preach, it's been very gratifying and enjoyable to watch," May said.
While his numbers don't necessarily jump off the stat sheet, Jalen Gaffney has been a major contributor to the Owls' success since transferring from UConn last year. Starting in 16 out of 20 games, he is averaging 5.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on 37% shooting from the field and 37% from beyond the arc.
"We knew he was a veteran guard that had been in big moments and was a great team player. He was looking for what we provided, a great culture with guys who are like-minded," May said. "He's just really unselfish and he doesn't care about scoring. He just wants to make the right play and he makes everyone on the court better when he's out there."
- Best start to a season at 19-1
- Most consecutive wins in history at 18
- Home win streak of 12 games (record 15, set 1/3/91 to 1/2/92)
FAU was solid in defending the perimeter during their time in Texas. They allowed 16 combined three-pointers at a rate of 34% against UTSA and UTEP, including none in the first half of the latter matchup. They will need to maintain that pressure from beyond the arc especially against Western Kentucky, currently ranking as the second best three-point shooting team in C-USA at 38%.
The Owls must do better in handling the ball. They committed a season-worst 20 turnovers against UTEP, and they must address this issue as it will be a key weakness the Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers will want to expose to have a major edge.
MTSU Team Site: Here
MTSU at a Glance
Offense - 70 PPG, 46% FG, 33% 3PT
Defense - 65 PPGA, 44% FGA, 34% 3PTA
Rebounding - 33 RPG, 31 RPG Opponents
Blue Raider Notables
Losing both matchups to Middle Tennessee last year, FAU will hope to turn the tables on them heading into Thursday.
The Blue Raiders have the third best record in C-USA, currently rolling with a four-game winning streak as they have limited opponents to 62.5 points per contest in that stretch.
"They're very long, athletic, tenacious. Defensively, they force a lot of turnovers, they block shots, they fly around, so we're hoping we're gonna have to be extremely disciplined," Dusty May said. "Last year, we got in early foul trouble against them and never really found our rhythm. So we're going to learn from that film and just put our best foot forward to play with good possession after good possession."
FAU guards will need to be careful with their shot selection when matched up with Blue Raider guard Teafale Lenard Jr. He is the best shot-blocker at his position averaging 1.95 blocks per game. He has played a key role in helping the Blue Raiders be the second best in C-USA for 5.25 blocks per contest.
The Blue Raiders are great in boxing out opponents for rebounds. They rank third in C-USA in allowing just 31 rebounds per contest, so FAU will have to be very physical if they want to assert their dominance in this matchup.
FAU and Middle Tennessee will meet again later this season on Feb. 16 in Murfreesboro.
WKU Team Site: Here
WKU at a Glance
Offense - 73 PPG, 45% FG, 38% 3PT
Defense - 69 PPGA, 41% FGA, 36% 3PTA
Rebounding - 34 RPG, 37 RPG Opponents
After FAU embarrassed them on their home court earlier this month, Western Kentucky will look to return the favor on Saturday.
Even as the Hilltoppers are sustaining a three-game losing skid including the 76-62 defeat to the Owls on Jan. 16, Dusty May expects this contest to have plenty of adjustments from the previous encounter.
"We always look at the way we're defended and the way we defended in game one to try to make adjustments and we'll see some different things," May said. "They play different guys, they're experimenting and tweaking, so there will be some minor tweaks and changes. It's still going to come down to execution and who really cares the most."
Expect Hilltopper center Jamarion Sharp to remain a threat at the defensive end. He continues to dominate the country in averaging blocks at 4.26 per game for 81 total. He had four blocks in the previous matchup against FAU, so the Owls need to figure out how to minimize his impact.
FAU must adjust their approach in guarding the perimeter against Western Kentucky. They saw three consecutive three-pointers from Hilltopper guard Luke Frampton during the first half in the last contest, as they must be prepared to prevent him and others from getting easy shots from deep.
Here's the starting lineup for your 21ST-RANKED @FAUMBB squad as they take on @MT_MBB:— FAU Owls Nest (@FAU_Owls_Nest) January 27, 2023
C Goldin#GoOwls!🦉🏀 pic.twitter.com/Il79cYezPt
10:25 1st— FAU Owls Nest (@FAU_Owls_Nest) January 27, 2023
(21) #FAU 15 #MTSU 13
Johnell Davis KNOCKS IT DOWN FROM DEEP as Owls go on an 8-0 RUN! #GoOwls! 🦉 🏀 pic.twitter.com/FZQRslUKTq
Scrappy game to say the least!
He's got 16 of the Owls 28 points.
No idea how he grabbed that.
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