WKU prepares for series with Florida Atlantic

WKU Hilltopper sophomore guard Jordan Rawls (3) tries to block a pass during the game against the LA Tech Bulldogs on Jan. 9th, 2021 at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Kaden Gaylord

WKU (13-4), (6-2, C-USA) returns to the court after a week-long break to play conference foe Florida Atlantic (8-7), (3-3, C-USA). 

The Hilltoppers were supposed to take on Old Dominion but were unable to due to multiple positive COVID-19 cases within ODU’s men’s and women’s basketball programs.

FAU was supposed to take on Marshall on the road last weekend, but the games could not be played due to contact tracing related to a Tier I member of the FAU travel party.

WKU had a week-long break earlier this season after defeating Tennessee Tech before heading into conference play due to Christmas and not having another game scheduled. 

“We had that long break but this hasn’t been that kind of break,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “We gave our guys off a couple days, but we’ve still been able to practice and that’s the big thing.”

FAU is scoring 80 points per game, the most in the conference, while winning by an average of 14 points. The Owls have the second-best shooting percentage in the league, shooting 47% per game while also shooting the second best from behind the arc at 38%. 

These two teams are number one and two in rebound margin, with FAU having a two rebound advantage over the Hilltoppers. Whoever can gain control of the boards should have the advantage in both games. 

“It’s definitely a big impact on the game, getting rebounds for sure, offensive rebounds definitely help a lot,” senior Taveion Hollingsworth said. “We just gotta go get them, it’s just find your man, box out, and go get them.” 

FAU is a good defensive team, but where they struggle is on the perimeter, as they are 11th in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense. With the way WKU has been shooting the past few games, that is an area they can focus on when attacking on offense. 

“If I have to shoot 50 threes then I’ll shoot 50 threes,” junior transfer Luke Frampton said. “It doesn’t matter to me, I’ll do what I have to do. At the end of the day, it just comes down to what we have to do to win, and that’s all I’m worried about.”

The series will be held at Abessinio Court in FAU Arena in Boca Raton, Florida. Game one is on Friday at 6 p.m. with game two on Saturday starting at 3 p.m. Both games will be broadcasted on ESPN+. 

Men’s basketball beat reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at [email protected] Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.