After beginning a three-game homestand by blowing a 17-point halftime lead in a two-point loss to Middle Tennessee, Florida International finished Thursday night's game in convincing fashion, beating neighboring Florida Atlantic, 84-65. The Panthers (13-10 overall, 8-6 Sun Belt) led by 21 points at the end of the first half and never let the Owls (11-14, 7-7) closer than 13 points over the final 20 minutes. The Owls managed to trim a 49-28 gap at the intermission down to 56-43 with under 15 minutes left in the game, but the Panthers scored the next six points on a 3-pointer by Malik Smith and an three-point play by Cameron Bell to regain momentum. FIU's biggest lead was 26 points at 75-49 with just over six minutes remaining. The Panthers shot 47.2 percent from the field while holding the visitors to just 38.0 percent. The Panthers harassed the Owls with full-court defensive pressure the entire game and forced the Owls into 22 turnovers. FIU had four players in double figures topped by Smith's 19 points. FAU's Greg Gantt and Jordan McCoy also scored 19 each to match Smith for game honors.
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