Florida Atlantic Owls vs. North Texas Mean Green Eagles Pick & Prediction JANUARY 28th 2024

No. 22 Florida Atlantic notched two wins over Texas schools in the past week and will look to chalk up another when it faces North Texas on Sunday in Boca Raton, Fla.

On the road in the Lone Star State, the Owls (16-4, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) used their dynamic backcourt to turn back UTSA 112-103 in overtime and Rice 69-56 to climb into a first-place tie with Charlotte.

Guard Nicholas Boyd was instrumental in Wednesday’s win over Rice, which led a portion of the game and cut FAU’s advantage to five points with 5:30 left.

However, the Houston school missed eight of its final nine field goals and lost by double digits.

“Just staying poised. We have a veteran team,” Boyd said of his team’s reaction as Rice slashed the lead. “We called a timeout, regrouped and went back at it.”

The left-handed Boyd led FAU with 18 points and made 5 of 6 shots, including 3 of 4 from long range, and all five free throws.

He added three rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.

While backcourt mates Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin garner the attention, Boyd contributes 10.5 points per game and is shooting 36.9 percent (24 of 65) from deep.

Boyd said UTSA putting up 103 got his Owls’ attention in preparing for Rice.

“We had a couple of meetings … and talked about defense and what needed to work on,” he said. “I think everybody in that room took it personally. … Today defense was a big focus and we did a good job.”

North Texas (12-6, 5-1) has won seven of its last eight games and is coming off an emotional victory against SMU on Thursday night.

If the first meeting between the Dallas-Fort Worth neighbors in 22 years is any indication, it is a rivalry that needs to be played more often and will again on Feb. 11 in Dallas.

Tops defensively in the conference allowing 58.7 points per game, the Mean Green held on for a 68-66 win over the Mustangs, watching Jalen Smith’s potential game-winning 3-pointer bounce off the iron at the buzzer.

“We talked about it before the game and wrote ’40 minutes’ on the board,” UNT coach Ross Hodge said. “We also wrote composure on the board. We talked about staying together. We had to be composed and connected.”

In the tight defensive matchup, UNT found scoring from John Buggs III, who tallied 12 points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc.

“That was our scheme tonight,” said Buggs, who had missed five games with a shoulder injury. “When they doubled us, we were going to make them pay for that. We have shooters.”

Fellow guard Rubin Jones (hamstring injury) totaled six points, four assists and three rebounds in his return to the lineup.

“It’s huge to have Rubin and John back,” said Jason Edwards, who netted 22 points. “It’s pretty obvious what Buggs does when he’s open. Rubin does a little of everything.”

–Field Level Media

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