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


Men’s Basketball: Owls defeat No. 4 Arizona 96-95 in double overtime to secure highest ranked win in school history

Junior guard Johnell Davis’ season-high 35 points helped secure an Owls’ win against the highest-ranked team in program history.
Courtesy of RJ Forbus
Junior guard Johnell Davis (#1) led the Owls to their first double overtime game and first double overtime win against No. 4 Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023 in Las Vegas. Arizona was the highest ranked team FAU has faced in program history and FAU highest ranked win.

On Saturday, the No. 14 Florida Atlantic Owls men’s basketball team (10-2) defeated No. 4 University of Arizona Wildcats (9-2) in Las Vegas in double overtime 96-95, marking the highest ranked team FAU has faced and defeated in program history. The last double overtime game FAU played was on Feb. 11, 2012, against the University of North Texas, where they won 86-81.

Junior guard Johnell Davis had a season-high 35 points to help secure the Owls win.

“If I can describe him in one word it’s hooper,” praised head coach Dusty May on Davis’ performance. “He’s never phased by the moment, by the stage.”

The Owls started the first quarter struggling offensively, missing open threes and turning the ball over three times against the Wildcats. Arizona led 10-3 before a media timeout, with FAU going 20% from the field compared to Arizona’s 50%.

Returning from a timeout, Arizona kept going on a scoring surge, scoring 14 unanswered points after the game started 3-3. FAU sophomore forward Brenen Lorient ended that run with two free throws, making the game 17-5.

“We know it’s a long game, and we just stayed the course and just competed,” said Davis on how the team overcame Arizona’s early 17-3 lead.

FAU started to find their rhythm as they went on a 5-0 run. Junior center Vlad Goldin sustained a temporary knee injury during an in-bound pass from Arizona, taking him out of the game for a short period of time.

Down 27-20 on Arizona’s side of the court, FAU guards redshirt sophomore Nick Boyd and Johnell Davis both recovered tipped passes; Davis tipped a pass in for two points. Goldin returned in the game as FAU were within three points.

Davis intercepted a pass by Arizona senior guard Caleb Love to make the score 33-27 with Arizona leading. The Wildcats lead going into halftime 37-31.

Turnovers were a problem for FAU going into halftime, with them having seven. Arizona was out-rebounding FAU 26-16. Arizona had 22 points in the paint compared to FAU’s 14. Arizona had 11 second-chance points compared to FAU’s five. Redshirt senior center Oumar Ballo led the Wildcats in the first half with nine points and had 14 total rebounds in the first half.

FAU senior guard Brandon Weatherspoon opened the second half with a three pointer, putting the Owls within three. After the Owls and the Wildcats exchanged possessions, the Owls’ senior guard Jalen Gaffney scored a foul and-one. 

A steal by the Owls and a lob from Davis to Goldin gave the Owls their first lead; Davis scored another layup, extending the lead to four. This quick run forced Tommy Lloyd and the Wildcats to call a timeout.

The Owls continued going on a 13-2 run with a Gaffney three-pointer, putting them up 51-43. Davis led the Owls to a 64-59 lead with under eight minutes left in the second half.

Arizona came back with an 8-0 run to lead 65-64. After a foul by Love, Davis missed a free throw to tie the game; however, Arizona grabbed the ball as it went out of bounds, giving the possession to FAU. Davis continued on his scoring run as he helped the Owls get back the lead, scoring all five points in FAU’s 5-0 run.

With under two minutes remaining in the second half, Goldin got into foul trouble with four. During the Wildcats’ possession, Davis ran into senior guard Pelle Larsson, resulting in Larsson shooting free throws.

Trying to get a shot within a minute in the second half down two, the Owls turned the ball over. FAU’s defense stopped Arizona, and Gaffney came running to the other side of the court. After a missed three by Davis, Gaffney recovered the long rebound and found a wide-open Goldin under the basket for a dunk to tie the game 73-73.

With five seconds remaining, Davis contested sophomore guard Kylan Boswell’s turnaround jumper at the buzzer to prevent a game-winning shot. This was the first overtime game for both teams this season.

Davis scored the first points in overtime with a floater off the side of the backboard. On the other side of the court, Goldin was fouled out of the game, allowing Love two free throws to tie the game, 85-85 with 3:58 left in overtime.

“He’s in foul trouble a lot, and we’re still trying to figure out different ways to protect him,” said May.

Junior guard Alijah Martin hit a three behind the arc to put the Owls up 80-77, silencing the Arizona crowd. Love hit a clutch three-pointer to tie the game again 82-82, Arizona timeout with 37 seconds left in the first overtime. 

Davis got a layup with over ten seconds remaining in overtime, regaining the Owls’ lead 84-82 as May and the Owls called a timeout. Gaffney got a foul, and Love scored two free throws to tie the game with 5.9 seconds remaining. Rushing to get the final shot to win, Gaffney missed a corner three, sending the game to double overtime.

Gaffney got a left-handed layup to put the Owls in the lead to start the second overtime 86-84. He returned another layup to put the Owls up 90-88 and then fired a three-pointer to extend the lead to 93-88. Redshirt sophomore forward Tre Carroll made two free throws to extend the lead 95-90, with Boswell answering with a three.

Junior forward Giancarlo Rosado made one of two free throws to put the Owls up 96-95, with the defense stopping Love to score. With five guards in the lineup, the Owls stopped Love from scoring the final point, securing the victory.

FAU finished 50% from the field and 33% from behind the arc. The Owls were outmatched in rebounds and assists, yet still came out victorious.

“It felt like a high-level basketball game,” said May. “I’ve been on staff’s at Indiana, Southern Cal, and University of Florida, and this felt like a February game with a conference championship on the line as far as energy and effort. Obviously, neither team is in late-season form quite yet. We’re still trying to figure ourselves out and learning a lot about ourselves. From my seat and my perspective, that was a high-level basketball game.”

The Owls travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to face the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles (5-9) on Saturday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. Email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04 for information regarding this or other stories.

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About the Contributor
Maddox Greenberg
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.

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