Men’s basketball preview: Owls take their last road trip of the season against Rice and North Texas

Team looking for second road conference win under head coach Michael Curry


Owls junior guard Marquan Botley (2) tries to pass Miners defender Tevin Caldwell (15) during FAU’s 89-82 loss to UTEP last Saturday. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Chris Libreros, Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic men’s basketball embarks on its last road trip of the regular season this week with matchups in Texas against Rice and North Texas.

FAU (7-19, 5-8 C-USA) is coming off an 89-82 loss at home on Saturday to UTEP. After trailing by as much as 18, the Owls cut the Miners’ lead to three late in the contest before their comeback attempt fell short.

Here are some things to look for in both games:

Rice Owls:

Rice (9-16, 4-8 C-USA) is coming off a 75-66 win on the road against Old Dominion on Saturday.

The player to watch for this Thursday is FAU junior guard Marquan Botley.

Botley is coming off back-to-back double digit scoring games. In both performances, Botley shot over 50 percent from behind the three-point arc.

As of late, Botley has been a key contributor off the bench, giving the second unit an offensive lift that has helped keep FAU competitive for all forty minutes in most games.

FAU redshirt junior guard Adonis Filer and Rice freshman guard Marcus Evans will face off in the upcoming matchup, with both players leading their respective teams in scoring.

Filer is coming off an 18-point night of scoring, while Evans, the conference leader in steals, is coming off a 20-point performance. The Rice guard is a threat to an FAU team who has taken care of the ball all year, ranking third in takeaways in Conference USA.

North Texas Mean Green:

The University of North Texas (9-16, 4-8 C-USA) is coming off its second straight loss by way of a 20-point blowout.

Its last defeat came against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where the North Texas Mean Green conceded 103 points in a 103-79 24-point blowout.

The player to watch on Saturday is North Texas sophomore forward Jeremy Combs.

Combs is coming off one of his best shooting performances of the season in which he scored 24 points on 12-of-14 shooting.

While leading his team on offense with an average of 15.6 points per game, he also leads the team in defensive categories: Combs’ averages in both steals and rebounds lead North Texas.


The X-factor for Thursday’s game will be FAU’s ability to keep the best free throw shooting team in the conference from getting to the line. Fouling on defense has hurt FAU in the past, including its Feb. 4 loss against Middle Tennessee in which the Owls racked up 23 personal fouls.

I believe FAU will hold strong in this game and outlast Rice in a comeback victory. FAU 72, Rice 68.

The key matchup for the North Texas game will be the battle for possession.

FAU is currently ranked third in the conference in keep aways, while North Texas is currently ranked third in the conference in takeaways. This dynamic will play a pivotal role late in what I believe will be a highly competitive back and forth game.

The X-factor in this matchup will be FAU’s ability to score from deep.

Earlier in the season, the Owls were the worst team in the conference in terms of shooting the ball from outside. Recently, FAU’s three-point shooting has carried it into the top ten in the conference rankings and has even played a major part in some wins.

The same should apply here. I see FAU capitalizing on another hard-fought road win. FAU 76, North Texas 71.

Rice will host the Owls on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m and the game against North Texas will take place on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m. in Denton, Texas.

Christopher Libreros is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.