GAME NOTES: On opposite ends of the spectrum, the Florida Atlantic Owls and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs begin play in their Conference USA schedules by squaring off against each other on Thursday evening.
Florida Atlantic, at 4-10 overall this season, finally snapped a four-game losing streak with an 81-47 win over Warner Southern last Wednesday. Just once this season have the Owls put two wins together, but they look to do it again as conference play begins.
Louisiana Tech, however, is on a four-game winning streak, including back-to- back games in which the Bulldogs have scored over 100 points. The Bulldogs are coming off a stunning 126-52 win over Longwood Saturday.
This is the first meeting between these new conference foes in their program histories. They won't meet again during the regular season.
Florida Atlantic jumped out to a 20-3 lead over Warner Southern and kept its foot on the gas pedal, winning, 81-47, for the first time since Dec. 7. Marquan Botley led four double-digit point scorers in the contest for the Owls, netting 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Botley added five rebounds and four assists in the win. Justin Raffington netted 15 points and secured 11 rebounds for the double-double, while Pablo Bertone scored 14 and Javier Lacunza added 11. The Owls shot 52.7 percent in the contest.
Bertone sets the pace for Florida Atlantic in the scoring department as the only player to average double figures per game. Bertone nets a healthy 19.3 ppg and leads the roster in assists this season with 34. Raffington is third on the team with 8.7 ppg, but leads the team in rebounding with 8.2 rpg. Big man Kelvin Penn paces the Owls with 26 blocked shots, and has 12 steals on the year.
Louisiana Tech's 126 points scored against Longwood Saturday set a new program record for a single game, while the margin of victory was the second-largest point differential ever in school history. Seven players recorded double-digit point totals for the Bulldogs in the contest, led by Kenyon McNeail's 21 points off the bench. McNeail drilled five 3-pointers in the game and grabbed six rebounds. Raheem Appleby netted 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Alex Hamilton scored 14 and added 12 assists for the double-double. The Bulldogs shot 55.3 percent from the floor.
Appleby leads the team this season in scoring with a 16.6 ppg average on 46.5 percent shooting from the field. The 12-3 Bulldogs average an incredible 86.1 ppg in their 15 games played, aided by Hamilton's 15 ppg and Chris Anderson's 10.6 ppg. The only player on the Louisiana Tech roster to have double-digit blocks this season is Michale Kyser, who has an astounding 61. The Bulldogs are shooting 47.9 percent from the floor.
The last loss suffered by Louisiana Tech to an unranked team was back on Dec. 4, and the win streak should continue with some top-notch scoring against Florida Atlantic.
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