MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men's basketball team resumes Atlantic Sun conference play on Sunday, hosting Northern Kentucky at Hawkins Arena for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
Mercer (20-6, 11-2 A-Sun) blitzed Lipscomb in a 79-48 win on Friday night for the team's sixth wire-to-wire victory of the season. The victory also established the ninth time the Bears have had a lead of 15 or more against an A-Sun opponent this season.
SCOUTING NORTHERN KENTUCKY
Northern Kentucky looks to end a six-game slide on Sunday after most recently dropping a 69-67 decision at Kennesaw State on Friday evening. The Norse are 2-10 on the road this year with wins at Tulane and Stetson.
The Norse return one starter and five letterwinners from last year's team that went 11-16 (9-9 A-Sun). In a preseason poll of A-Sun coaches, the Norse were picked to finish ninth among league coaches.
Starting guards Jordan Jackson and Tyler White are the team's primary scorers, averaging 14.0 and 10.2 points per game respectively. Jackson is 10th among the conference scoring leaders while also ranking second with an average of 1.5 steals per game. White does most of his offensive work behind the arc, averaging 1.6 3-point field goals per game.
Head coach Dave Bezold is in his 10th season with the Norse and holds a 180-113 record with the team. Bezold led the Norse to five 20-win seasons in his five nine years with the team before presiding over the team's first season of reclassification in 2012-13.
With four more points, senior guard Bud Thomas will become the 38th member of Mercer's 1,000-point club, joining teammates Langston Hall and Jakob Gollon in the exclusive group. When he reaches the mark, Mercer will be one of just seven schools nationally to start three 1,000-point scorers.
For the second time this season, Mercer's typical Thursday-Saturday A-Sun schedule has been compromised by inclement weather. Mercer also played a Friday-Sunday format two weeks ago at ETSU and at USC Upstate when a snowstorm moved through the region.
Mercer's win over Lipscomb on Friday established the Bears' third-straight 20-win season. Prior to last year, Mercer had never had consecutive 20-win seasons.
Mercer has only been outscored in the second half five times this season (at Evansville, at Oklahoma, at Ole Miss, at ETSU, at USC Upstate). The Bears are shooting 47.6% (348-of-731) from the field and averaging 40.0 points in the second half this year.
The Bears' No. 11 spot this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 is a program-best. Mercer has been featured in the poll for eight-straight weeks.
The program record for conference wins in a season is 14, done twice by the 2002-03 and 2012-13 editions of the team. To best that mark, the Bears will have to go at least 4-1 in their final five regular season games.
Darious Moten is enjoying the most successful stretch of games in his career. He's scored 10 or more in four of the last five games, and had previously reached double figures only once in 75 career games.
Langston Hall dished four assists last time out and ranks 4th in A-Sun history with 580 career helpers. He's only 33 short of tying the A-Sun record of 613 set by Napoleon Byrdsong of Centenary (1979-83).
Mercer is 24-1 in its last 25 regular season A-Sun home games dating back to the 2010-11 season.
Mercer is 43-4 at home since the start of the 2011-12 season. Between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, the Bears ripped off 17-straight home wins before falling to FGCU in last year's A-Sun tournament final.