SUNDAY, JANUARY 09, 2011
First place on the line for JU on Monday night
Sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference will be on the line when the JU men’s basketball team takes on Belmont at the Curb Events Center.

Tipoff is set for 8:15 p.m. (EST) in the second half of a doubleheader with the JU women. The Bono’s Barbecue Pregame Show will air on 1010XL at 8 p.m., with Barry Milligan calling the action.

JU (10-3, 4-0 A-Sun) meets Belmont (13-3, 5-0 A-Sun) for the second time in the last three years with sole possession of first place on the line. The last time was the 2009 season finale that saw JU win the A-Sun championship with an 84-82 overtime victory at Belmont.

The matchup figures to be a battle of the A-Sun top offense against the A-Sun top defense. Belmont leads the league in scoring (82.8 ppg) and is second in both field goal percentage (46.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (36.5). Conversely, JU leads the A-Sun in points allowed (63.8 ppg), field goal percentage defense (40.1) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.3).

“Belmont is a well coached team that is playing very well right now,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We have to challenge their shooters and not give them second chance opportunities for us to be successful.”

Jacksonville’s defense prowess was on display in the 60-56 win at Lipscomb on Saturday. The Dolphins forced the Bisons into 19 turnovers and held the preseason pick to win the league to just 34.0 percent shooting on the night.

This season, the Dolphins have held their opponent to 61 points or less seven times – winning all seven games.

SPIDER GETS 1,000

Senior forward Ayron Hardy joined the 1,000-point club in style on Saturday against Lipscomb, scoring a team-high 16 points in the win over the Bisons. He became the 28th player in program history to reach the prestigious milestone with 1,002 points in his career entering Monday’s game. He is the fourth Dolphin to reach that plateau in the Cliff Warren, joining Marcus Allen, Lehmon Colbert and Ben Smith.

Hardy caught fire in the first half, scoring 13 points to lead JU to a 12-point halftime lead. He broke the 1,000 point mark with his jumper with 5:52 left in the second half and then made a free throw with 48 seconds left that gave the Dolphins the lead for the last time with 48 seconds left.

A SHOT AT .500 Cliff Warren’s head coaching career got off to a slow start.

The Dolphins head man won just one of his first 28 games, but laid the groundwork for the back-to-back conference titles the last two seasons.

Now, five years after that one-win season, the Dolphins have a chance to get Warren’s career record back to .500 for the first time since he was 0-0. He enters Monday night’s game with an 82-83 record and is in fifth place on the school’s all-time wins list – trailing Bob Wenzel by six for fourth place.