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FAU: Men’s 2023 Basketball Champions

FRISCO, TX — The best team in the C-USA regular season put on a show in the championship game. And they did it against the defending champion, and also against the a showman himself in Jordan “Jelly” Walker. Alijah Martin had 30, mostly on wide open shots and dunks — especially late, when he scored 11 points in the final 5 minutes– as FAU’s equal opportunity offense sliced up UAB early and often.

Throughout the game it was clear that as much individual brilliance UAB could muster from Walker, and his high-flying teammate Eric Gaines — who added another candidate for dunk of the tournament to his one from the semifinal — it was not nearly enough to beat FAU’s guys. The ball found open shooters from three, or willing cutters and even more willing passers throughout. For every UAB run there was an emphatic FAU answer.

UAB had trouble shooting, but credit the hounding FAU defense that left no one wide open. Jelly Walker scored 32 in the semifinal, but managed only 18 on 6/20 shooting. He wasn’t fouled as often, the lanes were closed, and the rebounding was good. Jemison and Davis for UAB combined for only 9 rebounds, while Rosado and Goldin added up to 15 boards for FAU. The second half lead was 21 to start, and UAB only managed to cut it as close as 15 after a Walker jumper. After that FAU pushed it out to as many as 25. For a long time in the second half, FAU fans were preparing to celebrate.

FAU will be dancing, and most measures have them as a high-ish seed. The fact that they won and there were relatively few “bid-stealers” throughout the league tournaments means that UAB and even UNT have some hope for an NCAA bid tomorrow. Most estimates have UAB and UNT in the NIT, however.

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