No. 19 Florida Atlantic and Butler face off on Thanksgiving in the ESPN Events Invitational in Kissimmee, Fla.
The Owls suffered a humbling 61-52 loss to Bryant on their home floor Saturday, dropping them out of the top 10 and ending their 19-game home winning streak.
The loss for the Owls (2-1), a Final Four team in March with most of the same cast back this season, served as a reminder that nothing comes easy for a highly ranked program.
“That is the target everyone talks about,” head coach Dusty May told the Palm Beach Post. “A team comes in that has been a little bit disjointed, they pulled together for a common cause and found a way to play a really good basketball game.”
Johnell Davis scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in that game and is averaging 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
Viadislav Goldin leads the Owls in scoring at 15 points per game and Nicholas Boyd is averaging 10.7 points and 3.3 assists.
Butler (3-1) is also looking to right the ship after suffering a 74-54 loss at then No. 18 Michigan State on Friday. The Bulldogs had scored 81 or more in their first three games before running into a tough Spartans team.
Head coach Thad Matta told reporters in a post-game interview that his team struggled to shoot but will learn from this experience.
“I thought we competed well. We had opportunities, but we really struggled to put the ball in the basket,” Matta said. “They (the Spartans) had a lot to do with that. This is an experience we needed and we’ll grow from it. We have another big test coming up Thursday.”
Jahmyl Telfort led Butler with 15 points and six rebounds in the loss. Butler shot just 28.8 percent (15 of 52) from the field.
Telford is one of three players averaging in double figures for the Bulldogs, putting up 12.3 points per game. Posh Alexander is also averaging 12.3 per outing while Pierre Brooks III leads the team in scoring (13.3).
Butler’s opponents are only shooting 34.7 percent from the field through four games. Florida Atlantic is shooting 44.9 percent overall and 33.3 percent from long distance.
This is the first meeting between the two programs.
Thursday’s winner will face the winner between Penn State and No. 12 Texas A&M in the semifinals on Friday, while the losers will meet in the consolation bracket the same day.
–Field Level Media