GAME NOTES: The Florida Atlantic Owls take to the road for the final time this season, as they visit the Tulane Green Wave for a Conference USA tilt at Devlin Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
FAU has dropped its last three contests, including a heartbreaking, 78-76, setback against North Texas on Saturday. The string of losses isn't exactly a new trend for the Owls, who are just 10-18 overall and 5-8 against the rest of the conference. They host Southern Miss and FIU in their final two games of the campaign.
Tulane finds itself seated near the middle of the league standings, with a record of 7-6 in conference play. The Green Wave haven't had much movement in either direction recently, trading wins and losses in their last four tilts. They visit FIU in their next game before wrapping up the season against Southern Miss.
These teams are meeting for the first time since 1996, and Tulane has won all four previous matchups by an average margin of 18 points.
Despite a career-high 27 points from Justin Raffington, FAU was unable to come back from a 10-point deficit in the second half to defeat North Texas. The Owls did shoot 54.7 percent from the field, but scoring disadvantages at the free-throw line (17-12) and off turnovers (14-10) proved costly.
FAU's problem this season has been its inability to consistently hit shots, although it showed some strength in that area against North Texas. However, they have only sank 42.7 percent of their field goal attempts on the season, netting just 67.1 ppg in the process. Pablo Bertone (18.6 ppg) does his best to keep the team competitive on offense as C-USA's leading scorer. He added to Raffington's efforts against North Texas by netting 26 points. The roster lacks any other potent scorers to help Bertone, with Marquan Botley (10.5 ppg) and Raffington (10.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg) the only other players averaging in double figures.
Tulane captured a win in its last outing, edging its way past Texas-San Antonio, 68-56, thanks to a 57.1 percent shooting effort in the second half. The Green Wave also owned an impressive 42-25 advantage on the glass, led by a 15-rebound performance from Tre Drye, which tied a career-high.
Just like FAU, Tulane has struggled to get much going on offense this season. The Green Wave are only averaging 65.1 ppg and shooting 41.8 percent from the field. Both of those marks are the third-worst in the C-USA, but are still better than their efforts in assists (8.9 apg), a category in which they rank last in the conference. Louis Dabney (16.3 ppg), Jay Hooks (14.1 ppg) and Jonathan Stark (13.9 ppg, 4 apg) are the major contributors to the club's offensive effort. Hook was the only one to really make an impact against UTSA, netting 25 points, while Dabney added 11 and Stark finished with seven.
Tulane may not have the offensive firepower of the conference's elite teams, but it has been solid at home this season (11-5). Expect the Green Wave to add to that total against a FAU squad that isn't exactly lighting up to scoreboard itself.
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