JU returns to league play with momentum
There was something magical about the return of the JU men’s basketball team to campus after the Christmas break.

After dropping their first two games in Atlantic Sun Conference play, the Dolphins limped into the holiday break. When they came back to campus, JU looked like the preseason pick to win the A-Sun by knocking off UCF on its home floor to win the UCF Holiday Classic.

With two big wins in a row, the Dolphins (3-7, 0-2 A-Sun) dive into grind of 18 more conference games, starting at home against Mercer (4-8, 0-2 A-Sun) on Saturday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:15 p.m., the second half of a doubleheader with the JU women.

“Mercer is a good team that will come out hungry and ready to play,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We can’t rest on these two wins. That’s behind us. We’ve got to keep working every day to get better to achieve our goals.”

While Ben Smith was named the MVP of the tournament, he got a big boost from fellow senior Lehmon Colbert.

Playing for the first time in almost a month, Colbert came off the bench with nine points, a team-high six rebounds along with two assists.

Most importantly was his 3-pointer late in the game that gave JU the lead for the final time, sparking a 12-1 run to end the game.

Colbert’s two 3-pointers in the contest continued JU’s recent barrage from behind the arc. The Dolphins have hit 30 3-pointers in the last three games, including 12 at ETSU – the fourth highest single-game total in program history.

Mercer comes into the contest having lost three in a row and seven of its last eight. The Bears dropped their first two league games at home to Belmont and Lipscomb by a combined margin of 13 points.