|Date of game: 3/6/2014
FIU (14-16) at Florida Atlantic (10-20)
GAME NOTES: The Florida Atlantic Owls will try to end the regular season on a positive note as they host in-state rival FIU in a Conference USA clash at FAU Arena.
FAU has lost five straight games as it gets set for its regular-season finale. Long losing stretches are nothing new to the Owls, who are just 10-20 overall and 5-10 in league play. All they can do in this game, aside from ending the losing streak, is put themselves in a slightly better position for the upcoming C-USA Tournament.
This is the last game of the year for FIU, which is ineligible for the conference tournament this season, its first as a member of C-USA. The Panthers' opening run through the league has earned them mixed results, as they are 14-16 overall and 6-9 in conference.
A 66-57 victory for FAU earlier this season evened the all-time series at 16-16.
The Panthers had fallen in four straight games before their latest bout, which ended in a 73-47 rout of Tulane in their home finale. Rakeem Buckles finished with 20 points and 13 points to lead the way for FIU, which shot 50 percent from the floor, including a 9-of-18 showing from 3-point range.
The offensive end of the floor has caused problems for FIU this season, as the Panthers are only scoring 68.5 ppg, while shooting just below 45 percent from the floor. A major area of weakness is in moving the ball, with the Panthers 12th in C-USA in assists (10.9 apg). The Panthers' strength lies in the frontcourt, where Tymell Murphy (16.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Buckles (13.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg) lead the charge, although Buckles can step out and hit shots from the perimeter as well. Dennis Mavin (11.5 ppg) is only a 37.5 percent shooter, but he is the most productive player in the backcourt.
FAU was not as fortunate as FIU in its last contest, as the Owls lost to league-leading Southern Miss in a 60-49 final. Justin Raffington scored a team-high 14 points to lead four players in double figures, but FAU only connected on 29.6 percent of its field goal attempts.
Like the Panthers, the Owls do not score or move the ball well. They rank 13th in the conference in scoring (66.4 ppg), 12th in field goal percentage (.424) and 11th in assists (12.1 apg). Hurting their cause even more late in the season is an injury to leading scorer Pablo Bertone (18.9 ppg), who missed the Southern Miss game with a strained quadriceps. He is listed as questionable for this matchup. Marquan Botley (10.3 ppg) and Raffington (10 ppg, 8.6 rpg) are the Owls' best hopes on offense if their star is sidelined again.
With Bertone's status up in the air it is difficult to see how the Owls will be able to put up enough of a fight on offense, even at home, to get past a healthy FIU squad.
GAME NOTES: The Florida Atlantic Owls will try to end the regular season on a
positive note as they host in-state rival FIU in a Conference USA clash at FAU
FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Arena (5,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida.
Television: None. Home Record: FIU 9-6, FAU 7-7. Away Record: FIU 4-8, FAU
3-11. Neutral Record: FIU 1-2, FAU 0-2. Conference Record: FIU 6-9, FAU 5-10.
Series Record: Series is tied, 16-16.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 7 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
FIU 69, Florida Atlantic 65