MACON, Ga.- The Mercer men's basketball team looks to build momentum for the conference race as the Bears host league newcomer North Florida in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, with tip off scheduled for noon Wednesday in the University Center.
Mercer (2-7, 1-2 A-Sun) snapped a six-game winless streak Monday night with a 90-81 win over Jacksonville, while the Ospreys are wrapping up a six-game road trip before heading home to Jacksonville for a two-game conference homestand. The Ospreys have dropped five games in a row - all on the road, and are winless in seven road games on the season. In its most recent outing, North Florida fell, 52-40, to Stetson, as the Hatters picked up their first win of the season Monday night in DeLand, Fla.
After missing the last two games due to an injury, the Ospreys' leading scorer and rebounder, senior forward Alain LaRoche (18.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg.) is expected to play against the Bears. LaRoche currently ranks second in the conference in scoring behind ETSU's preseason Player-of-the-Year pick, Tim Smith, and is first in the A-Sun in rebounding. North Florida (3-7, 0-3 A-Sun) is second in the league defensively, allowing only 69.5 points a game, and is tops in the conference in 3-point field goal defense, holding opponents to 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
"We are looking forward to meeting North Florida for the first time," said Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker. "Matt Kilcullen is an outstanding coach, so we know they will be ready to play. It will be a challenge for us, but we gained confidence from our win Monday night and we are looking to keep the momentum going and carry it over."
Junior guard Jacob Skogen leads the Mercer offense, scoring 16 points per game. Senior forward Will Emerson adds 12.4 points and senior guard Andrew Brown is averaging 12 points on the season. Over the last three games, Brown has averaged 17 points a game, while shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 87.5 percent from the charity stripe.