Bears Resume A-Sun Play Versus FGCU on Monday
MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men’s basketball team – having recently completed its non-league slate of games – will resume Atlantic Sun Conference play on Monday when it plays host to Florida Gulf Coast University. The game, which is the backend of a women’s/men’s doubleheader, is slated for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at the University Center.
MU (9-6, 1-1 A-Sun) played a pair of A-Sun games in early December, winning at Lipscomb University and dropping a tight decision at Belmont, in Nashville.
The Bears were 8-5 in their slate of non-conference games for 2011-12. The team’s .615 winning percentage for out-of-conference contests is the best by a Mercer team since the 2004-05 team went 5-2 (.714) outside the A-Sun and only the fourth time a Bears’ team had a winning record against non-league games in the past 16 seasons (two of those under Bob Hoffman).
MU is coming off of a 65-56 hard-fought victory at Navy last Friday. In that game, the Bears showed tremendous offensive balance with seven players scoring seven or more points. Redshirt sophomore Jakob Gollon led the way with 12, the only starter in double figures. Gollon also had team-leading totals rebounds (8), assists (6) and steals (2).
Junior transfer Travis Smith came off the bench to add 11 points.
On the year, sophomore point guard Langston Hall tops the team in scoring at 12.3 points per game. Gollon (10.6 p.p.g.) and Justin Cecil (10.3 p.p.g.) round out Mercer’s double-digit scorers overall in 2011-12.
At 5.9 rebounds per contest, Gollon leads MU’s boards game. Bud Thomas and Daniel Coursey corral an average of 4.6 and 4.4 caroms per game, respectively. Coursey also leads the A-Sun in both field goal percentage (65.1%) and blocks per game (2.4 b.p.g.).
This will be the ninth meeting between Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast University. MU leads the series by a 7-1 margin, having won the past three bouts.
The Eagles’ lone win in the series came on January 24, 2010 in Ft. Myers, 71-70.
The first meeting between the schools took place on Jan. 17, 2008 (won by Mercer, 99-77).
FGCU is in its first season of full NCAA Division I membership - and eligibility for the A-Sun championship tournament - after serving its provisional status. The Eagles are currently 5-7 overall and are 1-1 in A-Sun games in 2011-12, thus far.
All six of FGCU’s non-conference losses have come to some high-profile schools: TCU, SMU, Miami, Maryland, Loyola Marymount and Nebraska (by a single point, 51-50, on Dec. 7). The Eagles also lost to current A-Sun co-leader USC Upstate, 80-75).
Since its loss to Upstate, FGCU has won two non-league games over Toledo (83-80) and Maine (84-72).
Andy Enfield is in his first season as the Eagles’ head coach. FGCU was selected 8th in both the A-Sun media and coaches’ polls entering 2011-12.
A balanced FGCU offense has a trio of players averaging double figure scoring. Sherwood Brown’s 11.8 points per game leads the way, followed closely by Bernard Thompson (11.7 p.p.g.) and Christophe Varidel (11.0 p.p.g.). Brown shoots nearly 51 percent from the floor.
Chase Fieler tops the Eagles’ rebounding at 5.7 boards per game, with Brown at 5.0 caroms per contest.
Brett Comer is one of the A-Sun’s top ball handlers at 5.4 assists per game.
FGCU defeated Maine, 84-72, in its most recent game thanks to 20 points from Varidel. Five Eagles scored in double figures.
- This will be the ninth meeting between Mercer and the FGCU Eagles, with MU holding a 7-1 advantage. The teams have meet twice a year beginning in 2007-08.
- When last FGCU and Mercer met (on Feb. 12, 2011) it was MU scoring a 74-61 win over FGCU at the University Center in Macon. The Bears led by 20 with six minutes left in the first half, but the Eagles were able to rally and tie the score (54-54) with seven minutes left in the game. Four-consecutive points by Brian Mills (22 points in the game) allowed the Bears to put some distance over FGCU and secure the win. Justin Cecil added 14 points and Bud Thomas 10 in the win. Christophe Varidel had 18 points to lead the Eagles.
- Mercer is 7-0 when holding its opponents under 60 points in a game. In five of its six losses, the Bears’ opponent scored more than 70 points.
- Sophomore Daniel Coursey has amassed 36 blocked shots (including a season-high six swats versus Tulsa). At his current rate of 2.4 blocks per game, Coursey is on pace to challenge the MU season record for blocked shots, 72, by Scott Farley in 1995-96.