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Nineteenth-ranked Florida Atlantic, which plays Virginia Tech in Sunday's ESPN Events Invitational final in Kissimmee, Fla., is trying to prove it hasn't lost its edge.

FAU is coming off a glorious season, leading the nation in wins (35) while reaching the NCAA Tournament's Final Four for the first time in program history.

The Owls started this season ranked 10th in the nation, but they fell nine spots after a shocking home loss to Bryant on Nov. 18. That snapped the Owls' 19-game home winning streak.

Since then, however, the Owls (4-1) have turned it around in Kissimmee, beating Butler in the quarterfinals on Thursday and defeating 12th-ranked Texas A&M in Friday's semifinals.

"We're not going to let that one loss to Bryant define us," Owls guard Alijah Martin said after beating the Aggies 96-89. "We showed up the next day with our hard hats on."

Martin, a preseason first-team All-AAC selection, is averaging 11.6 points. Fellow guard Johnell Davis, who is on the AAC's preseason second team, is averaging 14.2 points. Martin and Davis combined for 51 points against the Aggies.

In addition, Vladislav Goldin, a 7-foot-1 center who also made the second team, leads the Owls in scoring (14.8), rebounds (6.8) and blocks (2.0).

The other starters are guards Jalen Gaffney (6.8 ppg) and Brandon Weatherspon (9.6 scoring average). Nick Boyd (10.7 points) and Bryan Greenlee (8.2 points), who came off the bench Friday after starting four games, are other contributors.

Meanwhile, the Hokies (5-1) are on a four-game win streak, including victories over Boise State and Iowa State at Kissimmee.

"Defensively, we were in great spots," Hokies coach Mike Young said after his team's 71-62 win over Iowa State.

Virginia Tech's only loss this season came when South Carolina hit a reverse layup with 20 seconds left for a 79-77 victory.

The Hokies may struggle Sunday to stop Goldin due to his height. Standout Lynn Kidd, who is 6-10; and 6-9 Northwestern transfer Robbie Beran are Virginia Tech's starting forwards. Kidd leads the team in scoring (17.0) and rebounds (8.2).

"Confidence," Young said of the improvement made by Kidd. "If you double team him, he will make the right play."

The two Hokies reserve forwards in the rotation are 6-9 Mylyjael Poteat and 6-7 Old Dominion transfer Mekhi Long. Poteat, listed at 265 pounds, is 25 pounds heavier than Goldin.

While the frontcourt matchup will be interesting, Virginia Tech's biggest star is point guard Sean Pedulla, who leads the team in assists (5.8) and ranks second in scoring (16.7).

Pedulla is in good company because the Hokies' top three guards are all scoring in double figures and shooting better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. That includes Hunter Cattoor, who is averaging 15.3 points; and Tyler Nickel, who is averaging 10.4 points.

The Owls will have to protect the 3-point line where Pedulla is shooting 46.2 percent, Cattoor is shooting 45.8 percent and Nickel is accurate on 42.9 percent.

--Field Level Media

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