Mills Carries Bears to 70-59 Win Over USC Upstate
Macon, Ga. – Mercer University's Brian Mills had a career night in many ways as he led his team to a 70-59 Atlantic Sun Conference win over USC Upstate at the University Center. The win upped the Bears' record to 4-11 overall and 1-3 in the A-Sun.
Mills led all scorers with 30 points, a personal single-game best for the fourth-year senior, to give him his eighth-consecutive game in double-figure scoring. He also pulled down 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.
Mills hit two other career milestones, as well, during the course of the game. His 12th point of the night – which occurred on a layup with 1:39 left in the first half – was his 800th career point (on a night he would slice off a large chunk toward his 900th point, as well).
Then, with 4:58 left in the game, Mills grabbed a defensive rebound on a missed free throw by USCU's Tony Dukes for his 500th career rebound as a Bear.
"It was great for him to get that done," said MU head coach Bob Hoffman of Mills' benchmarks. "He's been unbelievable the last three weeks. I mean, he's been huge the whole time. It's been a great thing to watch.
"There's nobody who's worked harder than he's been working at his game, at his jump shot and he's got great confidence in it right now."
Mills hit 11-of-17 shots from the field and was 5-for-7 from the free throw line, while also canning 3-of-4 from beyond the arc for good measure. The Douglasville, Ga., native also made three steals.
Not to get lost in Mills' accomplishments were the efforts of fellow seniors Jeff Smith and Brandon Moore, who each had good games as well. Smith bounced back from a scoreless game versus East Tennessee on Monday and tallied 14 points versus USCU, while Moore had his fifth-consecutive double-digit game by pouring in 12 points and pulling down six rebounds.
Mercer raced out to a 30-23 halftime lead and built a cushion of as much as 25 points with 5:23 left in the game before the Spartans whittled away at the MU advantage down the stretch for the 70-59 final.
The Bears shot better than 48 percent (25-52) from the field for the game, while holding Upstate to a little less than 40 percent from the floor (23-58). MU also won the battle of the boards by a 36-to-33 margin.
"I was proud of the toughness (the Bears) displayed," reflected Hoffman. "To keep fighting and finally get over the hump now.
"We've got three road games coming up and there's not any of them we can't win."
Mercer will travel to Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. next Monday (Jan. 10) for a 7 p.m. game versus the Fighting Camels.
Even thought the team will not be in action at home again until January 20, fans can still visit with the Bears this coming Friday – January 7 – during a dinner and autograph session at the Chick-Fil-A restaurant at 5055 Brookhaven Road (off Eisenhower Pkwy across from Walmart). Players will be available for photos and autographs from 5:30-7 p.m., so makes plans to come out and dine with the Bears!