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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Men’s Basketball: FAU falls short to Illinois in Jimmy V Classic 98-89

The Owls had zero fast break points, while Illinois shot 63% from the field to give FAU their second loss on the season.
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FAU Athletics
FAU junior center Vlad Goldin (#50) going for a dunk over Illinois senior forward Coleman Hawkins (#33) and another Illinois player during the Owls’ 98-89 loss to the Fighting Illini in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.

On Tuesday night, the No. 11 Florida Atlantic Owls (7-2) lost to the No. 20 University of Illinois Fighting Illini (7-1) 98-89 in Madison Square Garden during the Jimmy V Classic.

The Owls had all the reason to feel confident coming into Tuesday’s matchup against the Fighting Illini. The Owls were coming off a sweep in the Field of 68 Classic, where they beat both Liberty University and College of Charleston in a three-day stretch. 

They’d also be entering familiar territory in Madison Square Garden, where they won their Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in last year’s March Madness run. 

This win would give Illinois their first win against a ranked opponent and FAU their second loss in their non-conference schedule. 

“Credit to Illinois. They exposed some of our weaknesses, and we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to fix some things. That’s why you play these games, to learn about yourself, and we will be better because of this experience,” said head coach Dusty May

The first score of the game came with junior center Vladislav Goldin winning the opening jump ball, where he would strategically tap it to senior guard Brandon Weatherspoon so that he could find junior guard Johnell Davis for a quick layup to the basket. 

The game would be ugly for both teams for the first five minutes, with each possession resulting in a missed shot, foul, or turnover. At 17:43 in the first half, three straight possessions resulted in a turnover, with two being back-to-back travels from FAU and Illinois. 

FAU got called for six total travels in the game, which Dusty May stated as “odd.” 

“I’m anxious to see it on film. That’s probably more travels [tonight] then we’ve been called for this season combined,” said May. 

The offense was stagnant to start the game, as FAU would be the first team to hit double digit points after a three from junior forward Giancarlo Rosado made the score 10-9 FAU with 12:32 in the first half. 

This would be short lived, as graduate guard Marcus Domask would answer with a layup to put Illinois in the lead. This would be his first two of 33 total points he would score in the game, a career high for him. 

FAU tried to string together an offensive run after an emphatic dunk from Goldin, which led to four more unanswered points to give FAU an 18-13 lead with 9:51 left in the first half. Illinois slowly started to cut away at the lead and took one of their own, making the score 27-23 with 6:31 left to go. 

All the momentum was with Illinois, as FAU went almost three minutes without any points. That was until redshirt sophomore forward Tre Carroll checked into the game and gave the Owls a much needed offensive boost, assisting on a dunk by junior guard Alijah Martin and scoring five straight points of his own. 

Martin’s dunk allowed the rest of the team to get going offensively, and FAU would go into halftime with a 42-39 lead. 

Both Martin and Davis logged heavy minutes in the first half, playing over 16 minutes each. Davis would go on to play the whole second half, while Martin finished with 34:36 minutes in the game. 

FAU maintained their lead for the first four minutes of the second half until Domask scored 10 points in those four minutes to give Illinois their first lead of the second half.

After an and-one layup and a three pointer from fifth-year guard Terrence Shannon Jr., Illinois would take a commanding 56-49 lead against the Owls with 14:58 on the clock. 

Shannon Jr. put up a career-high 33 points as well, combining with his teammate Domask for 66 of Illinois’ 98 total points. 

“I feel like it just happened. Just playing basketball and playing within the flow of the game, and just making plays,” said Shannon Jr. 

Once Illinois took this commanding lead, their supporters in the crowd started getting active. Thus, FAU would respond with an eight point run of their own. After senior guard Jalen Gaffney drained a three that took a few bounces to hit the bottom of the net, FAU would make the score 57-56 in their favor with 13:48 left to go.

This would be FAU’s last lead of the game. 

For the final 13 minutes of the game, Illinois had a bucket in response to any points that FAU scored to try and take back the lead. At one point, FAU cut their lead to two after a Goldin floater with three minutes left in the game, but Illinois responded with what ended up being a dagger three.

The most jarring stat of the game was that FAU had zero points in transition, which Illinois head coach Brad Underwood stated was a point of emphasis in their game plan.

“This team gets going in transition making threes, and they can score 100 points easily. I thought making them face us in the half-court could take its toll over the course of time and hopefully we could take them out with our size and physicality,” said Underwood. 

With a 23-point performance from Goldin, it still wasn’t enough to thrust them past Illinois. However, Goldin shared a similar sentiment from Coach May that the team will use this as an opportunity to grow.

“We lost a tough game, and it’s something we have to learn from. You learn more from losses than wins,” said Goldin. 

The Owls will reflect on this lesson during their eight-game break before facing Florida International University (3-7) at home on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. The game will stream on ESPN+. 

JD Delcastillo is a Staff Writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email him at [email protected] or reach out on Instagram @jd.delcastillo. 

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About the Contributor
JD Delcastillo, Sports Editor
JD is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in sports studies and digital marketing. Since high school, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the sports industry. He's published work in magazines, started his own sports newsletter, and currently interns with ESPN West Palm.

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