Men’s basketball: FAU handedly defeated by Middle Tennessee 73-56

Zack Kelberman

Pablo Bertone going up and splitting two Middle Tennessee defenders. FAU's junior guard had five points in the Owls' 73-56 loss. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
Pablo Bertone going up and splitting two Middle Tennessee defenders. FAU’s junior guard had five points in the Owls’ 73-56 loss. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
Middle Tennessee’s one-day sweep of FAU is complete.

FAU men’s basketball lost decisively 73-56 to Middle Tennessee on Saturday night at The Burrow. Earlier in the day, the Lady Owls were defeated by the Blue Raiders, 70-67.

In a game they never led — only tied — the Owls were evidently outclassed by Middle Tennessee, the Sun Belt Conference leaders.

FAU coach Mike Jarvis had no problem admitting as much.

“They played better than us,” Jarvis said. “It’s simple. They’re a better team right now, the best team [in the conference]. They showed it. They made plays when they had to.”

The Owls, in nearly all facets, were overmatched.

The Blue Raiders shot better from the field (55 percent to 40 percent), better from beyond the arc (60 percent to 40 percent), and better from the free-throw line (78 percent to 64 percent).

Middle Tennessee also recorded more steals, defensive rebounds, assists, points in the paint, bench points, and second chance points.

In a nutshell, the game, which MTSU opened up on a 9-0 run (13-4), was no contest. FAU cut the deficit to one point — 21-20 — at the seven minute mark, but trailed at halftime 31-25.

Owls guard Stefan Moody about to lay in two of his team-high 17 points against Middle Tennessee. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
Owls guard Stefan Moody about to lay in two of his team-high 17 points against Middle Tennessee. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
Middle Tennessee had a perfect record when leading at the half, and showed why.

“They’re a very deep group,” Jarvis said of the Blue Raiders. “Individually, they’re not that talented, but collectively, they’re very talented. That’s why they’re the best team in our league.”

The Owls just didn’t have the players who were able to keep up with MTSU’s quick-strike offense.

Guard Stefan Moody led the team with 17 points, but turned the ball over three times and seemingly had difficulties getting consistent looks.

Leading scorer Greg Gantt had one of the more nondescript performances this year, totaling 13 points (on 5-16 shooting), one rebound, and one assist.

Jarvis credited Middle Tennessee with holding Gantt in check.

“Most of the time, it has to do with matchups,” Jarvis said. “They’ve done a good on Greg over the years. Tonight they did another good job. They played him very well.”

Although the Owls’ bench didn’t contribute much (14 points), Jackson Trapp gave them solid minutes. The freshman guard had nine points, four rebounds, and three assists. His defense was one of the silver linings of the game, earning praise from Jarvis.

“He battled,” Jarvis said. “He proved that he belongs. He’s going to a good player for us for years to come.”

That was where the positives ended, however.

The loss drops FAU’s season record to two games below .500 (11-13) and their conference mark to 6-7.

FAU plays at FIU on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.