No. 24 Florida Atlantic will try to build on its program-best winning streak and remain atop the Conference USA standings when it wraps up a three-game road trip at dangerous UTEP on Saturday in El Paso, Texas.
The Owls (18-1, 8-0 C-USA) head to West Texas after an 84-67 win at UTSA on Thursday. Johnell Davis came off the bench to score 14 points and spearhead a balanced scoring attack for Florida Atlantic, which has won 17 straight games.
That streak is the second-longest in the nation, trailing only Charleston, which has won 19 straight. Florida Atlantic was playing just their second game ever as a ranked team.
“We only shot 10-of-31 from three, but I thought we had some great looks,” Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May said after the win. “We were happy with the shot selections, so we knew we would be able to win if we could tighten up some things defensively.
“Fortunately, our guys once again won the glass, this time by 11, and had a 16-to-8 assist-to-turnover ratio. Those are the formulas for winning, and our guys have been able to do that night in and night out.”
Brandon Weatherspoon had 12 points, Alijah Martin added 11 points and Nate Boyd had 10 for FAU in the victory. The Owls led by 16 points at halftime but were up just up by just 50-44 with 15:39 remaining. FAU never let the Roadrunners closer and forged a 25-4 run to finish off the victory.
The Owls are one of only four one-loss teams remaining in the nation — Charleston, Houston and Purdue being the others. FAU is tied for second in the nation in winning percentage (.947) with Houston and Purdue.
UTEP (11-8, 4-4) has won two straight games and three of its past four, including a dominating 81-61 victory at home over Florida Internationalon Thursday. That win was the Miners’ most complete game of the conference season and resulted in their first winning streak in nearly a month.
Shamar Givance led the Miners with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win, producing his third double-double of the season, while Otis Frazier III also had 15 points and Calvin Solomon and Jamari Sibley scored 10 points apiece.
“We were good (Thursday) in most aspects of the game,” UTEP coach Joe Golding said after the win. “I didn’t want to relax and take a deep breath. I wanted us to continue to move forward, and we did. We controlled it from the last four minutes of the first half. I’m proud of our guys and happy for them. Up and down the lineup we had guys playing really hard and playing together.”
UTEP shot 57.1 percent from the floor, forged a 35-19 edge in rebounding and had definitive advantages in points in the paint (40-22), points off turnovers (26-12) and second-chance points (17-5).
Saturday’s game will be the first against a ranked opponent for UTEP since 2014. The Miners have not defeated a ranked team at home since 2001.
–Field Level Media