NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (Florida Sports Wire) – History is made once again for Florida Atlantic University. The elite Owls have advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time ever.
In a battle that was every bit as physical and intense as advertised, the No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic University’s men’s basketball team took down the No. 4 seed Tennessee Volunteers in the Sweet Sixteen by a score of 62-55.
The Owls, who had never won an NCAA Tournament game in school history before this year, are now 40 minutes away from the Final Four. FAU will face Kansas State on Saturday at 6:09 p.m., with a trip to Houston on the line.
The win also marked head coach Dusty May’s 100th career win. All of those wins have come at the sidelines of the Owls. May, the Conference USA Coach of the Year and the NABC All-District 17 Coach of the Year, has brought FAU to new heights, and has his Owls on the doorstep of the Final Four.
From the opening tip, Florida Atlantic knew the challenge they were in for when facing a tall and physical team such as Tennessee. FAU was aggressive on the boards early on, but found themselves trailing early and often, at one point by as much as nine points.
After holding Tennessee to a miss on six of their last seven shots, FAU entered halftime in striking distance, a slight 27-22 deficit.
The Owls and Volunteers battled back and forth to begin the second frame, with Florida Atlantic continuing to fight on every possession.
At this point, it was only fitting that Mr. FAU himself, senior guard Michael Forrest, took over. The all-time leading three-point shooter and number two scorer in school history scored eight straight points, sparking an 18-2 run to give the Owls their first lead of the night, one that they would not surrender. The Owls’ massive run pulled them from down 39-33 to up 51-41 with 6:47 to go.
The Owls outscored Tennessee 40-28 in the second half to secure their spot in the East regional final. FAU will enter as just the seventh nine seed to ever make it to the elite eight.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, only 2.2% of anyone filling out a bracket picked Florida Atlantic to make it this far. Now, after 34 wins, three victories in the NCAA Tournament, and a spot among the final eight teams in college basketball, the dream season is becoming a reality.