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Johnell Davis scores 24 points to lead No. 13 FAU over Charleston 90-74

Owls win in Field of 68 Tipoff final at home
Florida Atlantic Owls guard Johnell Davis grabs rebound over Charleston Cougars guard Khalil London during second half, Dec. 2, 2023
Posted at 9:04 AM, Dec 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-03 10:05:37-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Johnell Davis scored 24, and Vladislav Goldin added 17 points and 12 rebounds to propel No. 13 Florida Atlantic to a 90-74 victory over Charleston in the finale of the Field of 68 Tipoff.

Coming off a performance without a field goal against Liberty in the Tipoff opener, Davis took over the Owls' offense in the final 12 minutes. Davis, a junior, also grabbed 10 rebounds.

"This was the fastest he looked in a long time," FAU coach Dusty May said.

Reyne Smith led the Cougars (4-4) with 14 points.

Back-to-back Davis buckets gave the Owls (7-1) their first lead of the second half, 56-55. The Owls never looked back.

A physical game inside a charged Eleanor Baldwin Arena saw tempers flare several times. At one point, May and Charleston coach Pat Kelsey needed to be separated by referees.

FAU Owls head coach Dusty May argues with Charleston Cougars head coach Pat Kelsey, Dec. 2, 2023
Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May reacts to a comment by Charleston coach Pat Kelsey during the first half Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Boca Raton, Fla.

"I guess there was miscommunication during the game and something was said and I couldn't hear, and then it just it escalated from there," May said. "You know, they're a fiery program. They're scrappy. They're tough. That's why they are good. They fight tooth and nail and we fight tooth and nail as well, so it's two competitive programs."

Hard feelings didn’t linger.

"When competitors are out there competing, stuff happens from time to time," Kelsey said. "We shook hands after the game."

Goldin spent the final 11:40 of the first half on the bench after picking up his second foul. With the Owls primary big man sitting, Charleston outscored FAU 31-21 to take a 46-40 lead at the half.

"There's no secret that at the top of the scouting reports of every team we play is getting Vlad in foul trouble," May said.

The victory is the first for FAU against Charleston in 10 games.

Next up for FAU is a return to Madison Square Garden, where the Owls won the East regional last season as a No. 9 seed and earned their trip to the Final Four. FAU will face No. 214 Illinois on Tuesday.

The Owls hope starting point guard Nick Boyd, who missed his fifth consecutive game with what is being called a leg injury, will be in the lineup.

"I'm really excited to go back to a place where we have such fond memories — to stay in the same hotel and play in the same arena is a cool deal," May said. "But this is a new team that's extremely honored to play in this event with Coach Valvano — Jimmy V's legacy, playing in MSG on ESPN in a doubleheader with such historic programs is once again a complement to the guys we have in our program."