Two weeks ago, FAU went on the road and thumped Middle Tennessee by 10 points, 71-61.
On Thursday night at The Burrow, Middle Tennessee (9-12, 4-4) attempted to return the favor, but the Blue Raiders fell to the Owls, 62-51. The win was FAU’s eighth in a row and eighth conference victory, putting the Owls at 16-6 on the season and 8-0 in Sun Belt play.
Early in the game, though, the Blue Raiders appeared to be a formidable foe as their center, Trevor Charles, blocked shots from Brett Royster and Kore White on the game’s first few possessions.
“We knew after beating them at their place it would be a tough game the first five minutes,” said point guard Ray Taylor, who scored 21 points. “So we just wanted to withstand their biggest blow.”
Following Charles’ two blocks, the Owls regrouped and jumped to a 19-15 lead on a breakaway steal and layup by Taylor. That type of play was something head coach Mike Jarvis stressed to Taylor before the game.
“Coach Jarvis expects me [to do things like that] because I’m the littlest, quickest man on the court,” said Taylor. “To get every loose ball on the court, to get to that loose change, and that gives me an advantage because when I get those rebounds I can start the break.”
FAU had a significant rebounding advantage throughout the game, as it possessed a tangible size advantage, with Middle Tennessee having just one starter over 6’6.”
“We’re starting to get to a point where we’re using that to our advantage.” said Royster of FAU’s height advantage. “We’re trying to out-rebound teams.”
Despite the rebounding advantage, careless play by the Owls led to 17 turnovers on the night. FAU also had a mere 6 fast-break points despite having 16 offensive rebounds and 41 total rebounds on the night.
Although the sloppy play allowed the game to be closer than expected, the Owls defense was able to put away Middle Tennessee.
“You’re not going to be efficient offensively every night. Nobody is,” said Jarvis. “But what you can be every night, because it’s all about effort and attitude, is good on defense.”
“A night like tonight, when, uncharacteristically, we’re committing as many turnovers as we did, we still won the game, and that’s a huge sign for how far we’ve come.”
With the win, the Owls extended their winning streak to the longest in program history.
Despite the impressive accomplishment, Jarvis isn’t quite satisfied.
“Our university has to do a better job promoting the school,” said Jarvis. “We can’t just be the best-kept secret in Boca.”