FAU Vs UNT: A Sunday Afternoon AAC Hardwood Preview

By Robbie Lastella

A battle is set for the Burrow at 1 pm on Sunday, as #22 FAU is matching up against former CUSA foe, The University of North Texas. 

These 2 squads matched up twice last year, and both times FAU came out on top by 4. As everyone is aware, not much has changed personnel wise for FAU. However, for UNT they come into this season with a new coach and without Tylor Perry who played well in both matchups for the Mean Green last year. 

For The University of North Texas

The Mean Green are led by New Coach Ross Hodge, who has not missed a beat since taking over this season. Although UNT was able to return 3 out of 5 starters, those 3 starters only brought 30% of the scoring. 

Coming in at 5-1 during AAC action, the Mean Green are fresh off a 2-point win against regional rival SMU. They are led in scoring by Jason Edwards, who has been averaging 17 points per game and has been tearing up conference play with 22, 20, and a 37-point performance against Tulane. Aaron Scott, who is one of the returning starters from last year has stepped up this season, increasing his points per game average to 11 from 7, and provides a tough matchup for FAU at the forward position. 

Rubin Jones has been a staple for this UNT team for a few years now and is averaging 11.7 points per game this season. Recently he has been dealing with a bit of a lingering hamstring injury which he returned briefly from against SMU but left during the game after re-injuring his hamstring; his status for the game will be something to watch. John Buggs III returned from Injury against SMU as well and is a dangerous three-point threat for the Mean Green. 

Both games last year were defensive battles, and this year that has the potential to be no different. The Mean Green are currently charting one of the slowest offensive tempos in the nation, checking in at 362nd in adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. That plays to their advantage and slows the game down and helps them stay in games which otherwise they may have struggled to match their opponent offensively. They are also a very efficient offensive rebounding team, charting a 36.8% offensive rebounding percentage which is good for 17th in the country.

The Mean Green present an interesting threat to FAU, as their slow offensive pace could help them stay in a game against an Owls team who has struggled to score early. UNT has only allowed 70 points twice in their past 10 games, and they will be playing hard nosed basketball in hopes of luring FAU into a defensive matchup. In the Mean Greens only conference loss this year, Charlotte was able to hold Jason Edwards to only 11 points which severely limited UNTs offense.

For Florida Atlantic University 

The Owls come into this matchup winners of 5 straight and are coming home from a 2 game Texas road trip that featured wins over UTSA and Rice. As the story has gone, neither of those games were easy victories, with UTSA forcing overtime and Rice providing a stymieing defensive effort in the first half, but FAU was able to hold on and win in both games. 

FAU

Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin remained hot, both providing 25+ against UTSA, and 16 a piece vs Rice. The duo’s strong performance consistently is a great sign and something the Owls will look to build in this one, as if the two can provide early offense, UNT will have to match. FAU has struggled to come out of the gates strong in conference games this season, but if they can get some of their early shots to fall, that combined with their tempo may lead to success for the Owls.

FAU hasn’t missed a beat down-low without Giancarlo Rosado, winning the Rebound battle by 8 against Rice and keeping it within 4 against UTSA. Tre Carroll has stepped up defensively providing valuable defensive minutes alongside his usual efficient offensive production. Vlad struggled a bit offensively in the Texas-Two Step, failing to break double digits and shooting 43%, but the Owls were able to work past his offensive struggles, and keep him on the court to maintain his size advantage. The Owls will look to get him going against an undersized Rice team sending out a 6’9 center. 

The commonplace in almost every game this season has been consistent offensive performances from Johnell Davis and his ability to take over games when other players on the Owls are unable too. Both games last year were defensive battles, and another one could be in store Sunday Afternoon, but if Johnell Davis is able to take over in a similar way he has in games this season, UNT may struggle to match the offense. 

Outlook-

FAU

This will be another gritty defensive battle between these two teams, unless FAU is able to break a trend of early offensive struggles. If FAU is able to break that Trend and get early offense and consistent performances across the board, the Owls will be able to out-pace and overpower the Mean Green. UNT will be looking to shut FAUs offense down and lull the Owls into a defensive battle and possibly pull out the upset on the road.

FAU is currently a -9.5-point favorite on HardRock SportsBook, and Ken Pom is predicting an Owls victory, 70-63. 

Fans can tune in on ESPN2 with Mike Corey, and Perry Clark on the call from Paradise- another Linear Broadcast for FAU and the AAC.

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