GAME CAPSULE: #7 FAU vs East Carolina - January 2nd, 2024
What: #7 FAU (10-3) vs East Carolina (7-6)
When: Tue. Jan. 2nd, @ 7:00 PM
Where: The Burrow - Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena
Series: Owls are tied 2-2 all-time against the Pirates. Last matchup ended in a 74-48 blowout in favor of East Carolina back in December 2015.
Radio: FoxSports 640
Live Stats: Here
Line: FAU -18
FAU at a Glance
Offense - 83 PPG, 50% FG, 37% 3PT
Defense - 71 PPGA, 42% FGA, 34% 3PTA
Rebounding - 38 RPG Owls, 33 RPG Opponents
Quite the drastic flip for FAU to go from beating the fourth-ranked Arizona Wildcats in Las Vegas to then falling to a shorthanded FGCU team on the road to end 2023.
It was mainly a night to forget for the Owls. They only converted on four of their 20 three-point attempts in a game where they benefitted more from scoring inside the arc (38-24 inside the paint); not to mention the 11 free-throws they missed that played a major role in them being unable to complete the comeback at Fort Myers.
Despite the loss, this allows the team to recollect themselves and get back to focusing on the bigger picture, beginning with their inaugural slate of games in conference play as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
Center Vladislav Goldin was one of the few bright spots in the contest. Despite missing a few shots at the charity stripe, he still finished with 21 points for the second 20-point game of his career as he continues to lead the country in field-goal percentage with a remarkable 74.5% clip.
Keep an eye on Johnell Davis (pictured above via Bob Markey II) to have a big impact heading into Tuesday night. He has scored in double-digits for six consecutive games, having an average of about 21.2 points in that span. That would place him among the 100 best scorers in the country if he keeps up that pace.
Alijah Martin needs to figure out how to get past his shooting slump soon as a vital player in FAU's system. He made his name known on the glass against the Eagles, grabbing 10 boards in the process. However, only having eight points on 14 shot attempts leaves a lot of room for improvement with Martin, who could have a resounding performance to begin conference play.
FAU will have a few days of rest before taking a trip to North Carolina as they take on the Charlotte 49ers on January 6th at 4:00 PM. The matchup will be broadcast on ESPN+.
ECU Team Site: Here
ECU at a Glance
Offense - 74 PPG, 44% FG, 31% 3PT
Defense - 70 PPGA, 44% FGA, 31% 3PTA
Rebounding - 37 RPG, 34 RPG Opponents
Like FAU, East Carolina recently took a tough loss at home to an East Tennessee State team they were heavily favored to beat.
They allowed 86 points from the Buccaneers in that game, with 45 coming from two players. ECU trailed by as much as 19 points despite a late effort to cut the deficit to 10 with five minutes remaining.
East Carolina shouldn't be underestimated, however. They fiercely competed with the SEC's South Carolina Gamecocks and Florida Gators in back-to-back games throughout mid-December, only having a combined losing margin of 11 points.
RJ Felton is the main player to keep track of on the Pirates. He leads the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game, total offensive rebounds with 30, and total steals with 24. Expect him, Brandon Johnson, and Bobby Pettiford Jr. to take most of the Pirates' shots, being the only players with 99 or more shot attempts so far this season.
ECU is not afraid to be aggressive in getting to the free-throw line. They have outshot teams 314-247 at the charity stripe, although their success rate of 69.4% presents a potential weakness for FAU to expose, especially from certain players who have been inconsistent in that area.
The team also won't hesitate to steal the ball, pick-pocketing opponents left and right for 109 so far this season. Five of their players have 10 or more steals, so FAU must be at their best when it comes to protecting the rock.
ECU has a few players who are questionable for Tuesday in Quentin Diboundje, Benjamin Bayela, and Callum Richard. In particular, Diboundje only played six minutes combined against South Carolina and Florida as he left both games with an undisclosed injury. The trio's statuses would be worth keeping tabs on.
Following this matchup, the Pirates will return home to North Carolina to host Tulsa on January 7th at 3:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.