GAME NOTES: The Old Dominion Monarchs have never lost a Conference USA contest, and they will try to keep it that way when they conclude their Sunshine State road trip against the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday evening.
Of course, this is just ODU's first season in C-USA, but the Monarchs have won their first two games, defeating East Carolina, 80-71, last Saturday, and FIU, 52-36, on Thursday night.
Keenan Palmore scored 17 points to lead the Monarchs against FIU. Dimitri Batten added 11 points and seven rebounds for ODU, which scored 14 of the game's first 18 points and never looked back. The Monarchs led by as many as 19, as they have won three straight overall by an average of nearly 11 ppg.
For the season, Aaron Bacote leads the Monarchs in scoring with his 17.5 ppg. Batten (11.8 ppg) and Palmore (11.1 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for ODU, which puts up just 65.5 ppg. However, the Monarchs are equally stingy at the defensive end, yielding just 64.8 ppg with their enemies shooting just 41 percent from the field, and they have come up with 58 more rebounds than the opposition.
This game wraps up a three-game road trip for the Monarch, who will host Southern Miss next Thursday in their C-USA home opener.
This is also Florida Atlantic's first season in Conference USA, and the Owls are also having some early success. After losing their league opener to Louisiana Tech on Jan. 9, the Owls have won their last two.
Most recently, FAU defeated East Carolina, 78-67, at home on Thursday night. Jackson Trapp led the way with 22 points for the Owls, who are just 6-11 overall despite having a 2-1 C-USA mark. Marquan Botley added 17 points, Pablo Bertone finished with 13 points and Justin Raffington posted a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, as FAU improved to 5-2 at home this season.
FAU overcame a 15-4 deficit to tie the game at 30-30 late in the first half. Then, after going into halftime down 33-30, the Owls went on a 14-3 run a little more than midway through the final stanza to break open a 56-56 tie and cruise to the win.
Leading the Owls at the offensive end this season is Bertone, who averages 18.3 ppg. Trapp adds 11 ppg, while Raffington contributes 9.2 ppg and a team- leading and 9.0 rpg for FAU, which averages 69.1 ppg and yields 70.5 ppg.
FAU, though, is averaging just over 74 ppg during its last four games in which the squad has gone 3-1. Prior to that, the Owls lost 10 of 12.
This will be the first-ever conference meeting between these two, and they met only once before with ODU coming away with a 70-55 decision on Nov. 17, 2006.
Old Dominion could be fighting some road woes tonight and despite a rough start to the season, FAU is solid at home. With both teams feeling confident this will likely be a close game, but also relatively low scoring. Expect ODU to squeak out the win, but it will be difficult for sure.
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