Johnell Davis was Conference USA’s sixth man of the year a season ago on a Florida Atlantic team that made it to the Final Four.
Davis is the main man for the 20th-ranked Owls this season, and he will attempt to lead them to an eighth consecutive win when they face UAB on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala.
Having started every game this season, Davis once again leads Florida Atlantic (18-4, 8-1 American Athletic Conference) in scoring, averaging 18.9 points — five more points per game than last season.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve never been around someone more competitive, who wants to win, has the drive to win that he does,” Owls coach Dusty May said, according to Sports Illustrated.
During Florida Atlantic’s current winning streak, Davis is paving the way. He led the team in scoring four times (including a season-high 34 in a double-overtime win over UTSA on Jan. 21) and topped the squad in rebounds three times. Davis scored 24 in a 102-70 win over Tulsa on Saturday, his 15th consecutive game in double figures.
The Owls beat the Blazers 86-73 in Boca Raton, Fla., on Jan. 14 behind a 30-point effort from Davis.
Davis was not a one-man show. All five Florida Atlantic starters hit double figures against the Golden Hurricane.
Vladislav Goldin is averaging 14.2 points per game, while Alijah Martin is putting up 13.2 and Nick Boyd contributes 10.4.
May was pleased with his team’s effort against Tulsa.
“I thought our guys played with a lot of purpose, and going forward that’s how we have to (play),” May said.
As for Davis, he is as motivated as can be.
“He has embraced and acknowledged areas that haven’t been his strengths and he has worked diligently to improve those,” May said. “He has stared them face down and went after them. All last March did was motivate him to be even better.
“Any negative is a growth opportunity and every positive, he stays humble. The good and the bad, he turns it into motivation to work.”
UAB (14-8, 6-3) lost a heartbreaker 72-69 against SMU in Dallas on Sunday despite a career-high 20 points from sophomore Efrem Johnson, whose last-second 3-point attempt didn’t fall. Johnson is averaging 10.7 points and ranks second on the team in 3-pointers made (32).
Eric Gaines leads the Blazers with marks of 12.2 points and 5.1 assists per game. Yaxel Lendeborg (12.1 ppg), Alejandro Vasquez (10.7) and Javian Davis (10.5) also are averaging in double figures.
The Blazers put up 77.4 points per game while allowing 75.7. They will face a stiff test against the Owls, who are scoring 83.4 points per outing and have hit the 90-point mark eight times.
Taking care of the basketball is critical for UAB against FAU, which is averaging 7.5 steals per game and is forcing opponents into 12.2 turnovers per contest.
The Blazers squandered possession 15 times against SMU, above its average of 11.9 giveaways per game.
“We came in and executed our game plan pretty soundly,” UAB coach Andy Kennedy told BlazerSportsline. “Our issue was our turnovers.”
–Field Level Media
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