No. 20 Florida Atlantic will look to rebound from an overtime loss at UAB when the Owls travel to face Wichita State on Sunday afternoon.
The Owls (18-5, 8-2 American Athletic Conference) are in a tight race with South Florida and Charlotte for the league lead. Florida Atlantic will oppose the Bulls in Tampa on Feb. 18.
Wichita State (10-13, 2-8) is near the bottom of the conference standings.
Florida Atlantic was riding a seven-game winning streak before falling 76-73 at UAB on Thursday. The Owls led by seven points at halftime before the Blazers clawed back. UAB had a chance to win it in regulation but missed several attempts in the final seconds. In overtime, the Blazers scored the first six points and Florida Atlantic couldn’t recover.
“We didn’t finish around the rim nearly well enough,” Owls coach Dusty May said. “(The Blazers) were very disciplined staying on our shot fakes as well, so compliment to them. They didn’t bite on any of the fakes, (which) made the shots tough for us.
“This is what we expected coming into this environment, into this arena, a very difficult place to play. We have to clean a few things up before Wichita on Sunday.”
Johnell Davis led the Owls with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Davis leads the Owls in scoring and rebounding on the season with 18.8 points and seven rebounds per game. He is joined in double-figure scoring by Vladislav Goldin (13.9 points per game), Alijah Martin (13.3) and Nick Boyd (10.1).
May might hope to use the formula that led the Owls to 86-77 victory over Wichita State in Boca Raton, Fla., on Jan. 18. Florida Atlantic shot 57.6 percent in the second half when it outscored the Shockers 55-35 to erase an 11-point halftime deficit.
The Shockers are coming off a resounding 84-64 victory over visiting UTSA on Wednesday. It was a nice bounce-back from a 65-63 loss at Memphis on Feb. 3, a game they lost on a basket in the final seconds.
Wichita State committed fewer than 10 turnovers in each of the past two games, and it held UTSA to 5-of-22 shooting from beyond the 3-pont arc. The Roadrunners came in averaging 10 makes and nearly 30 three-point attempts per game.
Colby Rogers led the Shockers with a game-high 18 points. Harlond Beverly added 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Quincy Ballard’s 11 points came from 4-for-5 shooting, and Xavier Bell chipped in 11 off the bench.
Wichita State finished the game 15-for-15 from the free throw line, while UTSA was just 13-for-25 at the line.
It was the third straight game in which the Shockers built a double-digit lead but the first time in that span that they held on for the victory.
“We’ve been able to play close, but playing people close ain’t getting it done,” Wichita State coach Paul Mills said. “We’ve got to be able to win. There’s a big difference between playing teams close and winning. A lot of people can play teams close. I thought the intensity required in order to win, specifically on defense, was better.”
If history is any indicator, this may be a close game. The Shockers are 3-0 all-time when hosting on Super Bowl Sunday. Last season they edged SMU 91-89 in double overtime. In 2002, they topped Indiana State 87-84 in overtime, and in 2021 they held off Temple 70-67.
–Field Level Media
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