Published On: Tue, Apr 14th, 2020

Continued Success: FAU Men’s Basketball Season Recap

The story of the Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball team’s 2019-20 season is one of what might have been.

The Owls ended the year with a 17-15 record, giving them back-to-back winning records for the first time since the 1996-97 season. The year ended with a 66-56 win over Old Dominion at the C-USA Tournament before concerns over the COVID-19 virus forced the tournament’s cancellation.

After a tough start to the season, the Owls won six of their final eight non-conference games. The streak began with an 87-69 win over Holy Cross to kick off the Boca Raton Beach Classic. They followed that up with a narrow 71-70 victory over UIC with Karlis Silins hitting the game-winning free throw. FAU suffered a loss to St. Bonaventure in its next contest, but bounced back with a 62-59 win over Canisius in the final game of the BRBC. Along the way, Kenan Blackshear was named C-USA Freshman of the Week.

FAU notched an 81-64 win over High Point and national championship-winning coach Tubby Smith in its next game, before concluding its homestand with an 84-35 victory against Tampa. The 35 points were the third fewest allowed in school history, while the 39-point margin of victory was the third largest in school history.

The Owls traveled to Mercer on Dec. 22 to take on the Bears and Jailyn Ingram scored 21 points, his first 20-point game in over a year in the contest.

FAU rang in 2020 at home vs. UTSA in its Conference USA opener, defeating the Roadrunners 79-64 and holding UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson, who entered the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 26.4 points per game, to just eight points. It was the Owls’ first ever win in their C-USA opener. Two days later, a pair of Silins 3-pointers and a go-ahead three-point play by Madiaw Niang helped FAU to a 59-56 victory over UTEP to improve to 2-0 in C-USA play for the first time ever. A career-high 34 points from Cornelius Taylor led the Owls to an 81-76 win at Rice on Jan. 9 to move up to 3-0 in C-USA competition.

FAU suffered its first league loss at eventual regular season champion North Texas on Jan. 11. The Owls recovered to defeat Middle Tennessee at 97-94 in overtime. Ingram hit a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left to force the extra session, then Taylor made a layup with 45 seconds to play that put the Owls ahead for good.

FAU swept a homestand against WKU and Marshall before suffering four straight losses to conclude the predetermined portion of the conference schedule. Bonus Play began with a second win over UTSA before wrapping up the home schedule by avenging an earlier loss to UAB. The Owls ended the year with 14 home wins, the most since joining Division I. After setbacks at ODU and Marshall, FAU headed to Frisco, Texas for the C-USA Tournament, where they downed the Monarchs in a rematch behind a career-high 21 points from Richardson Maitre. The win was FAU’s first in-bracket, neutral site conference tournament win since 2002.

Although the cancellation of the tournament brought an early end to the season, there was still plenty of things to celebrate. Dusty May tied school records for most overall wins (34) and conference wins (16) by a head coach in their first two years. Jailyn Ingram became the newest member of FAU’s 1,000 point club and as a team, the Owls averaged 71.1 points per game, their highest average since 2010-11. 

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