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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 24, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Calihan Hall (8,295) -- Detroit, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: FAU 1-2, Toledo 2-0. Away Record: FAU 0-3, Toledo 3-0. Neutral Record: FAU 0-0, Toledo 0-0. Conference Record: FAU 0-0, Toledo 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: On the final day of the Detroit subregional of the 2K Sports Classic, the Florida Atlantic Owls take on the Toledo Rockets at Calihan Hall.
FAU opened its season off on the right foot with a win over Ave Maria University (86-51), but since then it has been stuck in a downward spiral with five consecutive losses, including setbacks in this event to Detroit (77-44) and Stony Brook (67-61). The Owls managed to overcome an early double-digit deficit versus the Sea Wolves on Saturday to take a 41-40 lead with 14:30 left to play, but that would be their final lead of the game. They shot a dreadful 30.2 percent from the field in the loss, and while they were not bashful from 3-point range, their 36 long-range attempts only yielded 10 makes (.278). Jackson Trapp was just 5-of-17 from the floor but he still finished with a team-high 20 points. Pablo Bertone added 11 points and five assists, while Dragan Sekelja finished with nine points and 17 rebounds.
The Rockets have soared in the early part of the season with wins in each of their first five games, including triumphs over Stony Brook (103-99) and Detroit (80-78) in this event. Toledo's latest win over the Titans was arguably its most impressive yet, as they overcame a 19-point second-half deficit to win the game on a Julius Brown three-point play with just six seconds remaining. The team shot a modest 44.8 percent from the field in the victory, including just 4-of-17 from 3-point range, but it took good care of the ball by committing only nine turnovers. Rian Pearson led the way with 16 points, J.D. Weatherspoon netted 14, Brown finished with 10 points and five assists, and Nathan Boothe narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 boards.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between FAU and Toledo in men's basketball.
The Owls' lackluster performance on Saturday was hardly a surprise considering they are shooting just 38.7 percent from the field on the season in averaging 65.2 points per game, and they also boast a disappointing -2.7 turnover margin. Bertone makes just 36.5 percent of his field goal tries, but he generates enough volume to score 15.0 points per game, and he is the only FAU play to average in double figures. Sekelja (9.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Justin Raffington (8.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg) have both been positive assets in the frontcourt.
The Rockets are one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, as they net 91.8 points per game on a lofty 52.4 percent from the field, numbers which help mask their deficiencies on the defensive end of the court (78.6 ppg to opponents). Their efforts are also bolstered by outstanding rebounding (+8.2) and turnover (+4.2) margins. All five starters average in double figures, led by Brown with 17.4 points per game, and he also finds time to hand out 8.4 assists per contest. Pearson (15.4 ppg), Justin Drummond (13.6 ppg), Weatherspoon (11.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Boothe (11.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) round out the balanced starting five.
These two teams are trending in opposite directions early in the season, and with Toledo riding high after a thrilling comeback, it'll carry enough momentum into this bout to finish the event on a high note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 90, Florida Atlantic 75
11/24 10:32:09 ET
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