UCF (3-2) at Florida Atlantic (1-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 3, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5.000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: UCF 2-1, Florida Atlantic 1-1. Away Record: UCF 1-1, Florida Atlantic 0-3. Neutral Record: UCF 0-0, Florida Atlantic 0-2. Conference Record: UCF 0-0, Florida Atlantic 0-0. Series Record: UCF leads, 21-7.
GAME NOTES: In a battle of Sunshine State squads the UCF Knights will pay a visit to the Florida Atlantic Owls, as the teams meet in non-conference action at FAU stadium.
The first five games of the season have seen an uneven effort from UCF, which is a pedestrian 3-2 entering play on Tuesday. This contest ends a three-game road trip for UCF, which fell to Valparaiso, 85-70, last time out. UCF will play its next seven games at home.
FAU has had very little success this season. After a 94-74 rout against Toledo the last time they hit the floor, the Owls have dropped six straight decisions since winning their season opener. FAU finishes this quick two-game homestand on Saturday against Jacksonville.
This is the first matchup since 2006 when UCF ran away with an 87-65 victory. FAU had won back-to-back meetings prior to that decision, but the Knights still dominate the all-time series by a count of 21-7.
UCF didn't make enough stops on defense and compounded that with too many mistakes in the loss to Valparaiso. The Knights allowed the Crusaders to sink 54.2 percent of their shots from the floor, while being outscored 15-4, in points off turnovers.
The rotation for the Knights features a quartet of double-figure scorers led by Oklahoma transfer Calvin Newell Jr., (18.2 ppg, 4 apg, 2 spg). Newell has led the team in scoring in four of its five games and is also a strong contributor as a passer and defender. Isaiah Sykes (15 ppg, 6.8 rpg) needs to improve on his efficiency, as he hits just 41.7 percent of his field-goal tries. Tristan Spurlock (12 ppg, 7.8 rpg) has also struggled with his shot, banking in only 38.8 percent of his shot attempts. Then there's Kasey Wilson (11.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg), who doesn't overwhelm down low but puts forth solid efforts.
The loss to Toledo was especially frustrating for the Owls because they had one of their best offensive showings in the losing effort. Although they hit only 6-of-21 shots from beyond the arc, the Owls did hit 47.6 percent of their field-goal tries. On defense the Owls were sloppy, allowing the Rockets to have 36 attempts at the free-throw line, which was twice as many as the Owls earned.
Shooting at a 37.8 percent clip going forward would be a real boost for the Owls, who have connected on only 39.9 percent of their field goal tries on the campaign. Poor offensive efficiency is even more detrimental considering the Owls are letting up more than 75 points per game. There are not as many double figure scorers to choose from on FAU's roster. Pablo Bertone (17 ppg) is one of two players putting in at least 10 points per game. Bertone netted 29 points against Toledo but he hoisted up 25 shots in the effort. Jackson Trapp (10 ppg) is the second best scorer but, like Bertone, suffers from a lack of efficiency, converting less than 40 percent of his field goal attempts.
The only win FAU has had this year came at home. However the Owls don't exactly enjoy a ferocious homecourt advantage. Expect UCF to overpower the Owls, en route to the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 76, Florida Atlantic 66
12/03 10:38:59 ET