Johnell Davis scored 20 points off the bench as No. 24 Florida Atlantic rode a torrid start and overcame an uneven offensive performance in a 67-59 victory over UTEP on Saturday in a Conference USA game in El Paso, Texas.
The Owls (19-1, 9-0 C-USA) won their 18th straight game and remained atop the conference standings. Florida Atlantic’s winning streak is the second longest in the nation, trailing only Charleston, which has won 20 straight. FAU was playing just its third game ever as a ranked team, all of them this week.
FAU was up by 17 points midway through the second half but had to withstand a final charge by the Miners (11-9, 4-5). UTEP pulled to within 61-53 on a three-point play by Mario McKinney Jr. with 1:48 to play but ran out of gas and time in its comeback.
Vladislav Goldin added 11 points for the Owls.
Tae Hardy and Calvin Solomon led UTEP with 16 points each, and McKinney had 11. The. Miners were just 3 of 16 from beyond the arc and had a two-game win streak snapped.
The Owls scored the game’s first 12 points. UTEP missed its first six shots and had six turnovers before it hit its first basket, which came on a pull-up jumper by Solomon at the 13:11 mark of the first half.
The Miners whittled away at their deficit, pulling to within 23-17 on two free throws by McKinney with 5:13 to play in the half. FAU adjusted and sprinted back to a 13-point lead after a step-back jumper from Davis with 54 seconds to play to carry a 37-24 advantage at the break.
Davis paced the Owls with 12 points in the half, while Solomon had eight to lead UTEP. FAU outshot the Miners 50 percent to 30.8 percent in the half.
UTEP drew to within 41-32 on a layup by Otis Frazier III about five minutes into the second half. The Owls padded their cushion to 17 points after two free throws by Davis with 9:54 remaining and did more than enough to hold on.
–Field Level Media