Arkansas State (4-2) at Florida Atlantic (2-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Arkansas State 2-0, FAU 2-1. Away Record: Arkansas State 2-2, FAU 0-2. Neutral Record: Arkansas State 0-0, FAU 1-1. Conference Record: Arkansas State 0-1, FAU 0-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 4-4.
GAMES NOTES: Looking for some revenge for its loss in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament last season, the Florida Atlantic Owls will host the Arkansas State Red Wolves in conference action at FAU Arena.
This is the second straight game in the Sunshine State for Arkansas State which dropped its conference opener on Thursday against FIU (80-61) in Miami. The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Red Wolves who are 4-2 overall and an even 2-2 in road contests. The Red Wolves will begin a three- game homestand next time out against St. Bonaventure.
FAU also dropped its conference opener on Thursday as visiting South Alabama handed the Owls a 77-66 loss. It was only the second home game of the season for FAU which began the year on the road against powerhouse North Carolina before taking part in the Maui Invitational sub-regional in Elon, North Carolina. This game ends a three-game homestand as FAU will face Stetson on the road next.
Last season the Red Wolves not only topped FAU in the regular season but also got the better of the Owls in the first round of the conference tournament with a 70-55 rout. That win evened the all-time series at 4-4.
Arkansas State was weak on both ends of the floor in its loss to FIU. The Red Wolves shot just 36.5 percent in the contest, while allowing the Panthers to shoot a blistering 60.4 percent from the field. The loss came despite Arkansas State forcing 19 turnovers. Ed Townsel scored a game-high 13 points off the bench, but needed 15 shots to do so.
During its four-game winning streak Arkansas State had been putting up decent offensive numbers with a total of at least 73 points in each game. However in their two losses Arkansas State has been limited to 61 points both times. Overall the Red Wolves are averaging 73.5 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting, while opponents score 66.5 points a game on 43.8 percent shooting. Townsel (17.0 ppg) is the top scorer on the roster and has done so primarily as a reserve. Despite that, he has played the third most minutes (32.8 pg) on the team. Brandon Peterson (11.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg) can be penciled in for a double-double on most nights, while Trey Finn (10.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg) adds additional scoring out of the backcourt.
In its loss to South Alabama, FAU shot just 41.7 percent, including a 36.7 percent clip over the final 20 minutes. Free-throw shooting also played a factor as the Owls were outscored 20-7 from the charity stripe. Greg Gantt was the only player that found success at the offensive end, as he put in 29 points. His 18 field goal attempts was a higher total than the rest of the starting five's point total combined (17).
Scoring has not come so easily for FAU regardless of the outcome. On the season the Owls are scoring only 60.2 points per game, while shooting at a paltry 35.8 percent from the field. The Owls can get stagnant on offense with not a whole lot of ball movement, which has led to the team handing out only 8.5 assists per game. That mark is better than just three other teams in the country. Like he was against South Alabama, Gantt (17.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) has been carrying the team offensively, while also crashing the boards well from the wings. Stefan Moody (13.3 ppg) is also averaging in double figures but by shooting just 35.4 percent he is prone to have long scoring droughts. Jordan McCoy (5.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) doesn't add much in terms of scoring but leads the team in rebounding.
The Red Wolves have shown an ability to win on the road and this matchup won't be too big of a trip considering Arkansas State played just an hour south on Thursday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 68, Florida Atlantic 61
12/01 10:37:59 ET