With a come-from-behind, 62-55, win over No. 4 Tennessee, No. 9 Florida Atlantic keeps on dancing into the Elite Eight where the Owls have booked themselves a matchup with No. 3 Kansas State.
“Our guys, our staff, our players, everyone in our program certainly feel like we belong [in the Sweet 16],” Owls coach Dust May said following the win. “People are starting to take notice of how good our league was this year, so we’re battle tested.”
Despite being down 27-22 at half and dealing with a nine-point Volunteers lead early into the second, Johnell Davis led all scorers with 15 points to help surmount the deficit and send Tennessee back to Rocky Top. Similar to how FAU arrived in the Sweet 16, this was a game with plenty of runs that saw the Owls respond to almost every punch that Tennessee threw. Ultimately, Dusty May and Co. kept things just consistently close enough to capitalize on the Vols struggles late into the second half.
Tennessee led 39-35 with 12:07 remaining in the second half but eight straight points from Michael Forrest followed by an 8-0 run from the Owls put them ahead 51-41, a lead they didn’t look back from.
With that lead recouped for the first time since early into the first half, FAU worked its way into the bonus where Davis was able to secure the victory going 6 of 6 from the free-throw
This is easily the best tournament run, and the best season, in FAU program history. For May, the win and subsequent advancement are a testament to what he, his staff, and his players are building in Boca Raton.
“It’s awesome for our university, our athletic department, and our community, and we are extremely proud to represent them,” May said. “Our guys have done it with professionalism all year, so it’s awesome for everyone, especially as these guys have put a lot of work, elbow grease into building a program. So, for it to be to this point, it’s very rewarding, but we’ll focus on all that later after the season.”
Following the victory over Tennessee, FAU will have a chance to surpass 35 wins this season when they take on No. 3 Kansas State Saturday at Madison Square Garden.