Gantt, Mavin Return Home to Face Florida
What: Florida Atlantic (3-2, 0-0) vs #16 Florida (3-1, 0-0)
When: Tuesday, Nov. 23rd @ 7:00 PM EST
Where: O'Connell Center
TV: Sun Sports
Live Video: Gator Vision
Internet Broadcast: Here
Live Stats: Here
Florida Team Site: Here
G Alex Tucker 12.8 ppg
G Dennis Mavin 12.2 ppg
G Greg Gantt 16.0 ppg
F Kore White 9.2 ppg
F Brett Royster 7.6 ppg
G Kenny Boynton 14.3 ppg
G Erving Walker 12.8 ppg
F Alex Tyus 7.3 ppg
F Chandler Parsons 14.5 ppg
C Vernon Macklin 9.3 ppg
11/27/00 A L 42-100
11/23/04 A L 47-90
The two teams have met twice in Gainesville, both being heavily lopsided affairs going the Gators way.
FAU at a Glance
After losing by double digits to American at home on Saturday, the mood was understandably somber. The Owls trailed by a game high 22 points, putting forth a valiant effort to reduce the deficit to a single digit, only to watch one get away late that they should have had.
But, on Tuesday spirits renew as FAU heads north to take on in state rival Florida. It will be a homecoming for two members of the roster in guards Greg Gantt, and Dennis Mavin. Both are looking forward to the trip, and are motivated to give it their all in front of family, friends, and former teammates and coaches.
"It's going to be something to remember, because I've never played in the O' Dome before", Gantt said. "Florida didn't recruit me, so I got the chance to come back and try to beat 'em, and give it all I got."
Gantt has lead the team in scoring 4-of-5 games this season, and enjoyed his fourth double figure outing against American on Saturday.
While the stands will be lined with familiar faces, Mavin says it won't be a distraction from the real purpose of the trip - to pull off an upset.
"We've still got to know what we came there for, and take care of business", he said. "We've got to get out there and play."
They will need to play their best according to Coach Mike Jarvis. Beginning on the glass, where Owls continue to struggle, ranking 197th overall in total rebounds amongst the 343 NCAA DI programs.
"They (Florida) have the potential to be a great team, and if we don't come to play they are going to kill us on the boards", said Jarvis. "They are going to run, going to press, and to trap."
The Owls haven't seen that strategy or style yet. And, while it will be a test, an up tempo pace is something Jarvis says plays in the Owls favor.
"We're built for speed; to get out in front. We've got to play to our pedigree, and our pedigree says run."
Florida at a Glance
Florida enters Tuesday night’s matchup coming off a 61-55 win over Morehead State in which the Gators shot a season low 36.7% from the floor. UF lead by 17 at the break only to see the Eagles chip the margin away to just five late in the second period.
"It was one of those game were we didn't shoot the ball particularly well", said Coach Billy Donovan.
Compounding the issue was the presence of Eagles' big man Kenneth Faried, who had a game high 20 points and 18 rebounds.
"That's Dennis Rodman all over again" Donovan said. "He just totally destroyed our frontcourt."
The Gators have had plenty of success though during Donovan's tenure in Gainesville, winning two national championships and making 10 NCAA tournaments appearances in 13 years.
This season the expectations are just as high as the Gators return all five starters to their lineup for the first time since 2007. The guard duo of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton have combined for 27.1 points per game this season and have been one of the keys to victory for the team.
Boynton a former teammate of FAU point guard Ray Taylor at American High, is a preseason Second Team All-SEC selection and led UF in scoring a year ago with 14.0 points per game. In the Gators only defeat this season, a 95-73 loss to Ohio State at home, Boynton managed a team-high 21 points while going 5-for-8 from behind the three point line.
Florida is getting after opposing squads defensively forcing 18.0 turnovers a game, but are also allowing them to shoot 45.6% from the field. Center Vernon Macklin, a 6'10", 240lb transfer from Georgetown, is a force in the paint the Owls will need to account for.
The Gators have compiled a 64-8 record in the month of November under the direction of Donovan and is 46-2 at home during that span. Donovan is 9-1 all time at UF against Sun Belt teams.
Owl's Nest Prediction
Florida Atlantic is well overdue for a breakout shooting performance. Accordingly, the homecomings of Gantt and Mavin could bring the emotional fire needed for that to happen.
But the front court is in need of dire improvement in defense, and rebounding. FAU struggled at times against American and Portland, and the Gators offer more size and skills underneath.
It's not likely Boynton and Walker (combined 7-of-23 against Morehead) will exhibit a second straight game of poor shooting, so defending the perimeter will be key as well.
The Owls will receive a $70,000 pay-out despite the outcome, and could be competitive at times, but in the end UF's size wins it for the Gators.
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