FAU guard Alex Tucker had 15 points in the Owls’ 78-63 victory vs. Arkansas State on Saturday. (FAUOwlAccess photo)
> FAU 78, Arkansas State 63: Owls maintain a share of the East Division lead with a 78-63 victory over West Division leader Arkansas State on Saturday.
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> Video: Tucker's big night leads FAU past ASU
> Boxscore: Stats from Saturday's game
> Photo Gallery: Shots from Saturday's game
> Audio: Post-game press conferences
BOCA RATON – FAU doesn’t have much experience playing in games with the division lead on the line.
It sure didn’t look that way Saturday as the Owls kept pace in the Sun Belt Conference's East Division by defeating Western Division leading Arkansas State 87-63 in front of 1,616 fans at FAU Arena.
The Owls maintained a share of the East Division lead and more importantly won for the third consecutive time and fifth time in six games.
“It should do a lot for the guys,” said FAU coach Mike Jarvis said. “There is a fine line between being confident and being over confident. Hopefully we can stay confident…If we keep playing hard we’ll win more games.”
In the game’s early going it certainly didn’t look like the Owls were ready to make such a statement. FAU fell behind 14-5 less than six minutes into the game.
However, FAU (10-10, 6-3) went with a bigger lineup by bringing in Justin Davis and almost immediately started playing better.
“At the time, we just started running our offense and playing defense and it just picked up from there,” said guard Alex Tucker, who had 15 points.
The Owls led 35-28 at halftime and extended the lead to 54-43 on a 3-pointer by Greg Gantt with nine minutes remaining.
The Red Wolves put together one last charge, cutting it to 56-52 with seven minutes remaining. But Sanchez Hughley hit back-to-back 3-pointers to quickly put the lead back to 10.
“Those two shots were big,” said Hughley, who was 5-of-6 from behind the arc. “They put us back up and we kept the momentum going both offensively and defensively.”
Hughley became the Owls’ long threat after the Red Wolves, who led the Sun Belt in 3-point defense, clamped down on Greg Gantt, who leads the Owls in 3-pointers.
Gantt was just 1-of-3 from behind the arc, but was 6-of-14 from the field and finished with 16 points.
“For them to beat us and us guard their other players like we did, it was good for their team to have somebody step up and do something uncharacteristic,” said ASU coach John Brady. “That’s how you beat good teams.”
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Arkansas State (11-8, 6-2)
GameBrowser: FAU 78, Arkansas State 63
Moving forward: Alex Tucker had 15 points and led the Owls in rebounds (7) and assists (8) … FAU was out-rebounded early but came back to make it even with 38 boards. …When Gantt didn’t have his outside shot, he made a smooth transition to going inside and finished with 16 points.
Moving backward: FAU guard Ray Taylor was 1-of-9 from the field and finished with just 6 points. …FAU was 3-of-9 behind the arc before halftime.
Stat download: 6 – Offensive rebounds for Tucker
Up next: The Owls are back on the road for a game Thursday at South Alabama.