MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men's basketball team opens the final week of Atlantic Sun play on Thursday, welcoming North Florida to Hawkins Arena for a 7 p.m. tip.
Mercer (22-7, 13-3 A-Sun) is currently tied with Florida Gulf Coast (19-10, 13-3 A-Sun) for the conference lead and can clinch at least a share of the A-Sun regular season title with two wins this week.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
The Ospreys are 14-15 (8-8 A-Sun) and look to snap a two-game slide on Thursday night. North Florida is 5-10 on the road this year, including a 79-74 at Jacksonville on Feb. 14.
Newcomer Dallas Moore paces the team with an average of 12.3 points per game and has scored 10 or more on 19 occasions this season. Moore is joined in double-figure scoring average by senior forward Travis Wallace and sophomore guard Beau Beach, who chip in 11.8 and 10.2 points per game, respectively.
UNF has clinched a spot in the A-Sun Tournament by virtue of its 8-8 record. The Ospreys can finish as high as No. 5 or as low as No. 7 in the standings based on the final week of play.
Head coach Matthew Driscoll is in his fifth season with the program and holds a 71-87 overall record and a 44-48 record in conference play.
Mercer can claim at least a share of the A-Sun regular season title with a pair of wins this week. The title would be the team's third regular season A-Sun championship in program history. The Bears were co-champions in 2003 and outright champs last year.
Mercer can only be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in next week's A-Sun tournament. If Mercer and FGCU were to win out, the tie breaker would go to the team with the best record against common opponents in descending order of league rankings.
Mercer is 44-4 at home since the start of the 2011-12 season. The Bears were 13-0 at home during the regular season last year and can achieve another undefeated home regular season slate with two wins this week.
Bud Thomas became the 38th member of Mercer's 1,000-point club on Feb. 15, joining teammates Langston Hall and Jakob Gollon in the exclusive group. Mercer is one of just seven schools nationally to start three 1,000-point scorers.
Jakob Gollon was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after suffering medical hardships in his first two collegiate seasons. Feb. 21 at FGCU was his 146th game played, moving him into the top 20 all-time among NCAA career leaders in games played.
Mercer is one of 17 teams to have 22 wins or more in each of the last 3 seasons. The only other mid-major programs in that group are Wichita State and Gonzaga.
Mercer is 25-5 after a loss over the last three seasons. The last time Mercer lost back-to-back games was the final game of the 2012-13 season (at BYU) and the first game of the 2013-14 season (at Texas).
Langston Hall hit 2 3's on Feb. 21 to become the program's all-time leader in 3-pointers made. Hall has drained 245 3-pointers in his career, besting the old mark of 242 set by James Florence (2006-10).
Mercer's 21 point win over Stetson was its 12th win by 20 or more points this season. Over the past five seasons, Mercer has won 31 games by 20 or more points.
Mercer is 25-1 in its last 26 regular season A-Sun home games dating back to the 2010-11 season.
Mercer has had at least a 15-point lead in 11 of its 16 conference games this year and a 30-point lead in five league games.
The Bears check in at No. 11 in this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Mercer has been featured in the poll for 10-straight weeks and been as high as No. 9 this year.
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 2-0 in their final two regular season games.