Men’s basketball: Conference USA tournament preview

No. 11 FAU will face No. 6 Marshall in the first round of the tournament.


Senior Adonis Filer has led the Owls with 11.3 points per game this season despite only starting six games. Photo by Max Jackson

Hans Belot Jr., Sports Editor

After securing the 11th seed in the Conference USA tournament, Florida Atlantic men’s basketball is set to take on sixth-seeded Marshall University in the first round on Wednesday.

Marshall (17-14, 10-8 Conference USA) was able to secure the sixth seed after overcoming a five-point deficit in the final minute versus North Texas last Saturday. The Owls (10-19, 6-12 Conference USA) last faced the Thundering Herd on Jan. 2, and suffered an 89-72 loss.

The Owls shot 35 percent from the field in that game, and 17 percent from three-point land. Senior Ryan Taylor led Marshall with 31 points on 13-of-20 shooting, while also adding a game-high 13 rebounds.

Taylor is only the third leading scorer on a Thundering Herd team that has four players averaging double-digit scoring totals. Junior Jon Elmore leads the pack with 20.1 points per game, as well as a conference-leading 6.1 assists per game.

The Thundering Herd average 86.4 points per game, the most in Conference USA and the sixth most in the nation. Marshall also averages 16.5 assists per game, which is second in the conference.

However, Marshall is completely opposite on the other end of the floor. It’s given up the most points in Conference USA after allowing 85.2 per game over the regular season.

FAU must take advantage of Marshall’s poor defense, and senior Adonis Filer will be key to win the game. Filer leads FAU in scoring with 11 points per game off the bench.

FAU has averaged 70 points per game and is the third worst shooting team from the field, making 41 percent of its shots.

Defensively, FAU will have a tough task guarding Marshall, especially on the perimeter. The Thundering Herd made 37 percent of its 3-pointers in the regular season, and the Owls are the third worst three-point defensive team.

Road to the Championship:

In order to win the conference tournament and automatically punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament, FAU will have to win four games in four days.

If the Owls are able to get past Marshall, they’ll have a date with third seeded Old Dominion. The Owls defeated Old Dominion 65-61 on Feb. 4, just one of four teams to defeat the Monarchs at home.

Sophomore Justin Massey led the Owls with 18 points in that game, 16 of which came in the second half. He also knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 49 seconds left, a shot that gave FAU its first lead of the second half.

Shall the Owls move on, the conference semifinal would feature FAU versus either second-seeded Louisiana Tech — which FAU lost to 95-69 on Feb. 16 — the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or Charlotte.

FAU lost to UAB 79-59 in its second-to-last game of the season, but defeated Charlotte 77-75 on Feb. 2.

FAU will play Marshall on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 9:00 p.m. at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. The game will be broadcasted on Campus Insider.

Hans Belot Jr. is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @Don_Phenom_.