FREE HOOPS: JU hosts Campbell with conference title in the balance
A raucous crowd is expected at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Thursday for MPS Group night as JU seeks to break a deadlock with Campbell atop the Atlantic Sun Conference standings.

Admission is FREE for everyone thanks to the MPS Group and 1010XL. The doubleheader begins with the JU women at 5 p.m., with the men following at 7:15 p.m.

How big is this game? 1010XL will be broadcasting The Frank Frangie Show live from the Arena, leading up to the JU broadcast, with some of the TV stations doing their sportscast live from the floor leading up to tipoff.

The Dolphins (17-10, 13-5 A-Sun) get a rematch with a Campbell (18-9, 13-5 A-Sun) team that handed JU a 73-57 loss to open A-Sun play back on Dec. 19.

“Campbell is a very good team that is playing with a lot of confidence,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We’ve been practicing well this week and are focused on getting better.”

A year ago, JU went to Nashville and faced three-time defending champion Belmont on its home floor in a winner-take-all matchup on the final day. Marcus Allen’s 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in overtime lifted JU to its first-ever regular season conference title.

While the stakes are huge for Thursday’s game, it is just the first of a two-game week. The winner will clinch at least a share of the A-Sun title, but will need to back it up with a win on Saturday to win it outright.

The league race has been thrilling down the stretch and entering the weekend, five teams still have a shot at the title. It was just two weeks ago that there was a four-way tie atop the standings that has dwindled down to just JU and Campbell.

In the first meeting, Campbell got 17 points from Lorne Merthie, who hit four 3-pointers, en route to the Camels 73-57 win. Jonathan Rodriguez had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while William Kossangue had 13 points.

Ben Smith scored 16 points, but JU hit just 2-of-15 from behind the arc, falling behind by 12 at halftime and never were able to get back into the game.