FAU Uses Second Half Surge to Eliminate Vols in Sweet 16
NEW YORK (AP) — Florida Atlantic, playing in just its second NCAA Tournament, moved within a victory of the Final Four by using a second-half push led by Michael Forrest to beat fourth-seeded Tennessee 62-55 on Thursday night.
The ninth-seeded Owls (34-3) will play third-seeded Kansas State in the East Region final at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Even before the tournament started, this was the unquestionably the greatest season in FAU history. Now the Owls are one of the biggest stories in all of sports.
Johnell Davis led the Owls with 15 points and Forrest finished with 11, eight in a crucial second-half run where FAU took control.
The Volunteers (25-11), who were looking for just the second Elite Eight appearance in program history, shot just 33% — including 6 of 23 from 3-point range. Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo scored 10 points apiece.
The game was slogging along at Tennessee’s style and pace until the Owls started hitting the 3-pointers they had been missing for much of the first 30 minutes.
Forrest made consecutive 3s to put FAU up 41-39 with 9:49 left, the Owls’ first leads since the opening minute.
Forrest capped a personal 8-0 run with driving layup that put the Owls up by four.
Meanwhile, Tennessee couldn’t buy a bucket. The Vols went six minutes during which they scored four points.
Brandon Weatherspoon’s putback off a bad 3-point miss off the side of the backboard made it 51-41 with 6:47 left.
The Vols had one more push left. James swished a 3 with 3:33 left to cut the Owls’ lead to 55-50.
The Owls then turned up the defense again, getting a key stop that led to a fast-break layup by Nick Boyd that put FAU up 57-50 with 2:31 left.
The Owls salted it away with free throws from there, as the orange-clad fans emptied out of MSG and the outnumbered FAU fans took over.
When the horn sounded, Boyd and Bryan Greenlee hopped onto the press row table to celebrate.
Instead of going to the locker room, some of the Owls made their way up into the stands to sing “New York, New York” with their fans.
Then the Owls fans serenaded coach Dusty May’s wife, Anna, with an “F-A-U!” chant before finally filing out of The Garden.
The Owls have never played Kansas State.
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25