FAU rallies past Vols to Elite 8: ‘We belong here’
NEW YORK CITY– Before last Friday, Florida Atlantic didn’t have an NCAA competition win in the history of its men’s basketball program.Less than a week later on, the Owls have three– and they’re 40 minutes from the Final Four.FAU returned in the second half to beat 4-seed Tennessee 62-55 in Thursday’s Sugary food 16 match and now will deal with 3-seed Kansas State in Saturday’s Elite Eight.The 9-seed Owls, using Cinderella’s slipper? Not rather.
“We’re where we’re expected to be,”guard Nicholas Boyd stated
.”We’re going to keep moving, keep working. Can’t count us out no more. We’re here to remain and we’re going to keep battling no matter who we line up against, who we play.” We’re going to keep making statements.
“Editor’s Picks 2 Associated Thursday’s win definitely certified. Extremely couple of
groups all season have actually been able to withstand Tennessee’s brand name of physicality and defense, constantly dragging teams into a half-court slog. The Volunteers got in Thursday with the nation’s finest defense, the nation’s best 3-point defense and a top-15 2-point defense.Less than a week ago, Tennessee enforced its will on Duke, which had entered the NCAA tournament as
one of the hottest teams in the nation. And for the very first 20 minutes, it appeared like Thursday would be more of the same. FAU had nine first-half turnovers and shot 21.4% from 3. Boyd recognized early the Vols weren’t just another defense. “I threw a couple passes in the beginning of the game that got deflected,” he said.”Generally in our league those are
layups, so we needed to change.” FAU did adjust and put forth among the most effective second-half performances any team has actually produced against Tennessee’s defense all season. The Owls had 40 points after halftime, simply the ninth time this season a group scored 40 or more points in a half versus the Volunteers. The Owls got the pace, shots started falling and driving lanes regularly opened up.As a group that starts four players 6-foot-4 or much shorter, FAU required to enforce its design on Tennessee, not the other method around.”We worried a couple of things simply to open some spaces in area so our chauffeurs could get downhill, and then we just passed it much better,”coach Dusty May said.”We just spoke about when we pass it, now we have to shot-fake, drive and just continue to get guys open shots and [keep them] off balance since they are larger and stronger at each position. So we just required more area to develop, and then our guys banged in some shots. “A 16-2 run midway through the 2nd half that turned a six-point deficit into a 10-point lead turned the game. Michael Forrest (11 points)hit a couple of threes and then scored on a drive. Alijah Martin(9 points) buried a 3 in shift. Boyd (12 points )got to the rim. Johnell Davis (15 points) was relatively everywhere, getting offending rebounds and getting to the totally free throw line regardless of a bad shooting night.Suddenly, a surprisingly strong FAU cheering area made itself known.”F-A-U!”chants called throughout Madison Square Garden.It didn’t seem like a small-school David making a spectacular run through the big-school Goliath. FAU didn’t get hot from 3 and bury Tennessee under a barrage of outside shots. The Owls outscored Tennessee in the paint, they outrebounded the Vols, they had more second-chance points, they had more fast-break points.It was another remarkable performance in a season filled with them from FAU. The Owls ended Thursday with the most wins in the nation, sitting at 34-3. They won 20 games in a row previously this season. They’re currently on a 10-game winning streak.”Everyone in our
program certainly feels like we belong here, and a lot enters into that,”May stated. “Number one, how long they have actually had the ability to sustain their effort, their energy, especially when you’re the hunted like they have actually been all year.”While Kansas State will be the favorite on Saturday, FAU ranks ahead of the Wildcats in many predictive metrics. Another win shouldn’t be a surprise. “I don’t seem like we’re Cinderella,” Boyd stated.”We proved that tonight. We simply played excellent basketball. We played as a system, we played together and we played
physical. I know we’re undersized, we’re small. … But we play tough and we have fun with heart.”Included Martin: “We feel like we’re supposed to be here, doing precisely what we’re expected to do.”