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No. 17 FAU puts trust in guards for visit to Charlotte

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No. 17 Florida Atlantic continues its introductions into the American Athletic Conference on Saturday afternoon when the Owls go on the road to face Charlotte.

FAU scored a 79-64 win over visiting East Carolina on Tuesday night in its AAC debut. Coach Dusty May knew the Owls (11-3, 1-0 AAC) wouldn’t need long to adjust and is glad to put the conference opener behind them.

“Nice to get back home and start conference play, begin a new chapter in the American Athletic Conference and start off the right way,” the sixth-year coach said. “I thought our guys stayed the course. It was a back-and-forth game.”

For May, there was way too much back-and-forth to feel comfortable until later in the game.

Guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin could not find a rhythm in the first half, when the Owls trailed the Pirates (7-7, 0-1) 36-35 at halftime.

It was a difference story in the second half. FAU used a 14-0 run to outscore ECU 44-28 over the final 20 minutes.

“Our guys stayed the course and kept battling and found some creative ways to get stops and come up with loose basketballs,” May said. “We weren’t clicking offensively in the half-court … but I thought our stops allowed us to get out in transition.”

That back-and-forth play in transition led to major production from Davis and Martin, who each poured in 20 points on identical 7-of-13 shooting.

“We started off right in the American,” said Davis, the fifth player program history to record 1,000 career points and 500 rebounds.

Martin reached 20 points for the third time this season and center Vladislav Goldin (11 points, 11 rebounds) notched his fourth double-double.

Charlotte fell 66-54 at SMU on Tuesday, losing for the second straight outing and fourth time in five games.

The 49ers (6-7, 0-1) got 19 points in 38 minutes from guard Lu’Cye Patterson, but shooting and rebounding were headaches for coach Aaron Fearne’s club.

Charlotte shot 18-for-53 (34.0 percent) and 6-for-20 (30.0 percent) from distance, while the host Mustangs worked their way to a sizable 45-31 advantage on the glass.

Fearne said his players weren’t ready to compete at a high level.

“We have got to get out there and compete at a much higher level physically and we did not do that in the first 20 minutes,” said the first-year 49ers coach. “We just got absolutely hammered on the glass and we got to make shots. We just don’t shoot the ball well enough. I’ve got to find a way to generate better shots.”

Averaging a team-best 14.1 points per game, Patterson was the only player who scored in double figures at SMU. He will need some help if the 49ers want to put a scare into FAU.

“Because we could not make enough shots, that allowed (SMU) to get out in transition and they got some easy ones,” Fearne said.

Charlotte has lost its past four games against the Owls.

–Field Level Media

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