Men’s basketball preview: FAU heads to Lone Star State for two-game slate

The Owls beat UTSA, but lost to UTEP in each of its two matchups a season ago.


FAU sophomore Jeantal Cylla led the Owls with 14 points in their loss at Middle Tennessee. Photo by Mohammed F. Emran

Brendan Feeney, Managing Editor

Coming off its first conference win of the season last Saturday, Florida Atlantic men’s basketball will be looking to capture its first three-game winning streak since December 2014, when it faces two conference foes in Texas later in the week.

The University of Texas at San Antonio hosts the Owls (5-9, 1-2 Conference USA) on Thursday, Jan. 12, before FAU visits UTEP on Saturday.

Here’s what you need to know about both matchups:

UTSA Roadrunners:

Amidst having the second lowest attendance in the conference, the Roadrunners (7-9, 2-1 Conference USA) have won all six of its home games this season. They also will be entering Thursday’s contest having won five of their last six games.

On the other end of the spectrum, FAU has lost three consecutive games prior to its victory over Florida International this past Saturday and has won only one of its four road games.

The Owls, who sit seventh out of 14 teams in both scoring offense and defense, will have a tough offensive assignment against UTSA’s defense, which holds opponents to the fourth lowest shooting percentage in the conference and the lowest three-point percentage.

On the offensive end, the Roadrunners shoot 39.3 percent from the floor, the second worst in Conference USA.

With all the potential missed shots, 7-foot junior Ronald Delph, who leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game, and company will have to crash the boards.

The Roadrunners average 40.6 rebounds per game, the second best in Conference USA. FAU, on average, loses the rebounding margin by an average of 4.4 per game, the second worst mark in the conference.

A year ago, the Owls won both meetings against UTSA.

UTEP Miners:

The Miners (2-13, 0-3 Conference USA), whose 12-game losing streak has led to the worst record in Conference USA, arguably rely on their two best players more than any other team in the conference.

Senior Dominic Artis and junior Omega Harris have played the most and second most minutes respectively in the conference. Harris’ 17.4 points per game is the eighth highest in the conference.

Artis leads the conference in assists per game (6.5), is 13th in points (15.1) and ranks second in steals (2.1).

FAU head coach Michael Curry will have an abundance of guards to throw at UTEP’s two-headed monster.

Sophomore Justin Massey has led the team in scoring two times over the past five games, senior Adonis Filer leads the team with 10.6 points per game and sophomore Nick Rutherford has scored at least 10 points in all three conference games.

The Owls will be looking to avenge their two losses at the hands of the Miners from last season.

Brendan Feeney is the managing editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.