Rice has lifted FAU's offense since his return.
Jan. 9, 2007
BOCA RATON, FL - Head Coach Rex Walters and the Florida Atlantic University men's basketball team return home this week to face Middle Tennessee and ULM after splitting a pair of road contests last week.
The Owls (7-8, 3-2 SBC) picked up a hard-fought road win against New Orleans last Thursday, but couldn't overcome a strong shooting night for South Alabama on Saturday.
"I thought against South Alabama in the first half we didn't value the basketball and didn't get quality shots," Walters said. "That's what really lead to such a big lead in the first half. It wasn't so much our defense, our defense was really pretty good when we were set, but transition defense was difficult and a lot of that is caused by quick shots and more importantly turnovers. "
Carlos Monroe returned after missing four games and was the team's leading scorer in each contest. He has now scored 20+ points in five of his last six, including a career-high 29 points against USA. DeAndre Rice has scored at least 16 points in each of his six games this season with the exception of his 13-point outing against North Carolina. Paul Graham is the eighth-best sixth-man in the nation, scoring 12.9 points-per-game in his bench appearances. He's second among Sun Belt players in that regard. Three SBC players rank among the nation's top 11 based off the responses of university's media relations contacts.
Florida Atlantic is shooting 46.8 percent as a team, but has allowed opponents to connect on 49.0 percent of their shot attempts, 41.0 percent on triple-tries. FAU is averaging 71.3 points-per-game while allowing 79.1.
Middle Tennessee (6-9, 2-3 SBC) is led by the 11.9 points of Kevin Kanaskie, who also leads the SBC in minutes played at 37.2.Desmond Yates also averages in double-figures at 10.6. The team's leading rebounder and main interior threat is Tim Blue, who grabs 5.8 boards per game. Kyle Young snags 5.3 rebounds as the team's other frontline player. Blue also averages 9.8 points-per-game.
The Blue Raiders shoot 44.3 percent from the floor, 32.2 percent from deep, to average 60.6 points per game. MTSU opponents shoot 42.9 percent from the floor and average 64.6 points.
"As it has been all season long, transition defense will be very important," Walters said. "We've got to do a good job in transition because Middle Tennessee will look to push the ball up the floor."
ULM (10-7, 4-1 SBC) suffered its first SBC loss in its surprisingly hot start at Denver last time out. The Warhawks are 7-0 at home, but just 3-7 away from home (including a 2-0 record at neutral sites).
Tony Hooper leads the way for the Warhawks at 16.4 points per game to go with 4.2 rebounds. Jordan Payne (11.8) Lance Brasher (10.7) Brandon Roberts (10.3) and Jonas Brown (10.2) give ULM five players who average in double-figures, providing a diversified attack.
ULM is shooting 41.4 percent from the floor, .352 from range. The team averages 71.1 points per game while allowing 72.1. The Warhawks hold a first-half scoring edge (+15) but are at a disadvantage in the second-half (-40).
Both games begin at 7 p.m., and can be heard on WMEN 640 AM with the voice of the Owls, Evan Cohen. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Season tickets are still available for FAU men's and women's basketball. Fans can also purchase individual game tickets ($10 general admission for adults, $7 for youth/seniors) or as a group ($5/ticket for groups of 15 or more). Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster, on FAUsports.com, at the FAU Box Office located next to the Tom Oxley Athletic Center on the Boca Raton campus, or by calling 1-866-FAU-Owls. Tickets will also be available in the lobby of FAU Arena once doors open. There is no charge for parking during FAU men's and women's basketball games.
Wednesday's are also Take a Kid to the Game days. Free admission is given to one child with each purchase of an adult ticket. Additionally, the first 100 fans will receive a free hot dog.