Bears Will Have Georgia on Their Mind Thursday Evening
MACON, Ga. – Mercer University’s men’s basketball team will renew one of its oldest rivalries on Thursday evening when it plays host to the University of Georgia at the University Center. The non-conference tilt will tip-off at 7:07 p.m.
The game will be televised live on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast and also be streamed live online on ESPN3.
Georgia enters the game with an 8-2 record and a full head of steam, having won five games in a row. The Bears are 3-7 and have been off for the past 12 days after snapping a four-game skid with a 73-68 win over Navy on December 10.
This will be the 75th meeting between UGA and Mercer in men’s basketball. The Bulldogs own a decided advantage in the series, 51-23.
Mercer has been idle for 12 days since it snapped a four-game losing streak on December 10 when it sank Navy, 73-68, in Macon. The contest was a see-saw affair, with no team ever leading by more than single digits. There were nine ties and nine lead changes in the game.
On the year, Mercer is led by the senior trio of Jeff Smith (14.8 p.p.g.), Brandon Moore (11.8 p.p.g.) and Brian Mills (11.7 p.p.g.). Moore leads the Bears in rebounding, but missed the Navy game after suffering a blow to the head in the first half of the game at Lipscomb.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT:
The Bulldogs are led in most statistical categories by the trio of juniors Trey Thompkins (16.4 p.p.g.), Gerald Robinson (14.6 p.p.g.) and Travis Leslie (13.1 (p.p.g.). Leslie and Thompkins pace UGA in rebounds at 7.9 and 7.0 boards per game, respectively. Robinson is Georgia’s top assist man at 4.9 “helps” per game, while also shooting nearly 51 percent from the field. Senior forward Jeremy Price tops UGA in field goal percentage at 53 percent. From beyond the arc, junior Dustin Ware has canned 18 treys and hits at a clip of nearly 44 percent from long range.
UGA improved to 8-2 on the year by winning its fifth-consecutive game with Tuesday’s 85-38 thrashing of High Point in Athens. Gerald Robinson was nearly perfect in leading UGA over High Point. He had 21 points and was nine-of-10 from the field in just 19 minutes on the floor. Trey Thompkins added 15 points and Dustin Ware 10 as the only other Bulldogs in double digits. In all, 11 of the 12 players seeing action scored in the game.
* Mercer and Georgia’s basketball programs began around the same time, with UGA tipping off in 1905-06 and the Bears’ program getting under way one year later in 1906-07. Georgia was actually Mercer’s first-ever game versus an intercollegiate opponent on January 19, 1907 (won by UGA, 65-11) in Athens. (The Bears’ first-ever basketball competition at all was on January 14, 1907 versus the “Macon Hussars,” a team from the light cavalry regiment stationed in Macon).
* The January 21, 1907 edition of the Atlanta Constitution - in recapping that first-ever Mercer-Georgia basketball game, tells the story of how on the way home from Athens that the Mercer team’s train wrecked. The article contains the following quote about MU’s journey back to Macon: “without the loss of a single man, they boarded the fender of the engine and were safely landed at home”.
* Despite the fact that this is the 75th meeting between Georgia and MU, it is exactly 11 years - to the day - since these teams last meet in basketball. UGA took an 88-54 win in Athens on Dec. 23, 1999. As a matter-of-fact, after the clubs played in 1961-62 they did not meet again until the 1989-90 campaign (a gap of 27 seasons without a game).
* This is the Bulldogs first trip to Mercer since December 3, 1994 when they took an 81-71 win.
* UGA radio color commentator Mark Slonaker was Mercer’s head coach for 11 seasons (1997-2008) with a record of 128-189, prior to joining UGA. He led the Bears to their only A-Sun Conference regular season championship in 2002-03. Slonaker was also coaching the Bears the last time they played UGA in the 1999-2000 season.
* The game versus Georgia will be the second in a stretch of four tough non-conference opponents for the Bears to close out the calendar year for 2010. Having also played Navy on December 10, Mercer will host Charlotte - which last week knocked off then #7 Tennessee, 49-48 - next Thursday (Dec. 30/2 p.m.) and travel to Atlanta the very next day to take on Georgia Tech for a New Year’s Eve Day game (1 p.m.).