MACON, Ga.- The Mercer men's basketball team opens a two-game Atlantic Sun Conference homestand playing host to league-newcomer Kennesaw State Thursday night in the University. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
The contest is the first meeting on the hardwood between the two schools, with Kennesaw State (9-8, 7-1 A-Sun) sitting atop the conference standings along with Florida Atlantic. Mercer, riding a five-game home winning streak dating back to last season, is looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
"It'll be an interesting matchup," said Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker. "Coach Ingle and I have been friends for 25 years, and it's the first time we've ever competed against each other."
The Owls come to Macon as one of the A-Sun's hottest teams, having reeled off five consecutive wins after dropping a 73-67 decision to Florida Atlantic on Jan. 6. KSU sophomore Ronnell Wooten is the lone returning starter from last season's squad that captured a share of their second straight Peach Belt Conference regular season championship. They finished with a record of 25-6 and a berth in the NCAA Division II National Tournament. Golden Ingle comes in as the reigning conference Player of the Week after helping lead KSU to three straight wins last week as the junior from Orem‚ Utah, earned his first Player of the Week award and the Owls' second of the season. Wooten won the award earlier in the year. Ingle ranks third in the conference in scoring with 18.5 points and is second in the league in assists, dishing out 5.94 assists per game. Wooten is 13th in scoring (14.3 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (6.4 rpg).
"Kennesaw State is off to a great start," added Slonaker. "They are getting tremendous guard play. We'll have to step up our defensive intensity in order to slow them down and be competitive."
Mercer (3-10, 2-5 A-Sun) will counter with junior Jacob Skogen, whose 15.8 points per game ranks fourth in the conference, and senior guard Andrew Brown, who is coming off a strong performance on the road against Belmont, pouring in a game-high 18 points and grabbing a game-high eight rebounds. Preseason all-conference selection Will Emerson is battling a January slump but is poised to break out against the Owls. Sophomore forward Sam Dolan is second on the team in rebounding, garnering 5.1 rebounds a game, and has averaged 10.5 points and shooting an impressive 66.7 percent from the field over the last four games. Dolan notched a career-high 12 points in three of the Bears last four games - against UNF, Lipscomb and Belmont.
As part of the night's festivities, Party City is sponsoring "Wig Night", with the first 200 fans in attendance receiving a free orange-colored wig.