FRIDAY, JANUARY 09, 2009
JU routs Mercer, 80-59
Ben Smith became the 25th player in JU history to score 1,000 points
Ben Smith became the 25th player in JU history to score 1,000 points
The gold jerseys have been the best friend of the JU men’s basketball team.

The Dolphins donned the alternate jerseys for the fifth time in the school history on Friday night and ran away from Mercer, 80-59, at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Atlantic Sun Conference play.

JU (5-8, 4-1 A-Sun) won its second straight behind 18 points from Ayron Hardy, leading four Dolphins in double figures. Hardy has been red hot in A-Sun play, hitting 30-of-37 from the floor – averaging 14 points per game.

One of the other Dolphins in double figures was junior point guard Ben Smith, who scored 17 points to become the 25th player in JU history to record more than 1,000 points in his career. Smith just missed out on his second career double-double, dishing out nine assists to go along with three steals.

Throw in the fact that JU is 5-0 in the gold jerseys and you have the perfect ending for the A-Sun “Game of the Week.”

“We had a good effort on defense tonight,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “Mercer is a very dangerous team and the guys did a good job of making sure that we didn’t give them any easy looks.”

For the third straight game, Jacksonville hit more than 50 percent of its shots from the floor while forcing Mercer (7-8, 1-3 A-Sun) into 18 turnovers – converting them into 23 points.

Leading from the outset, JU built an 11 point lead in the opening six minutes and never looked back, pushing the lead to as many as 16 in the opening half before taking a 40-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Dolphins put any comeback hopes to rest quickly, opening the second half on a 14-2 run in the first five minutes– capped by an Aric Brooks 3-pointer.

Defense stole the show for JU, as they held the Bears to just 30.4 percent from the floor, including a paltry 8-for-29 from the floor in the second half.

Brooks led the JU bench with 13 points, with Travis Cohn scoring 10 points as well for the Dolphins.

JU owned a 10-rebound advantage thanks in part to Marcus Allen, who had 10 boards to move into the top 25 in A-Sun history with 681.

Mercer got a game-high 20 points from James Florence, with Daniel Emerson scoring 16 and Calvin Henry chipping in with 14.

The Dolphins return to the court on Sunday as they host Kennesaw State at Swisher Gymnasium on campus. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.