WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2009
Men's hoops set to Fight for First on Friday
– It has been a long time since the JU men’s basketball team played a regular season game of such importance.

On Friday, the Dolphins (11-8, 9-1 A-Sun) will host East Tennessee State (15-5, 9-1 A-Sun) with sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference on the line. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., with the game being broadcast on Comcast Sports Southeast as the A-Sun “Game of the Week.”

The last time JU hosted a game this late in the season with first place on the line was in 1987 – 22 years ago.

“Every game in conference play is important and this is the next one on our schedule,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We’re encouraging all of our fans and the community to come out and support us.”

The “Fight for First” ends JU’s memorable January run – having won eight in a row after dropping an 84-82 decision on the road at ETSU to start the month.

In the first outing, JU hit a season-best 12 3-pointers and had six players in double figures. Lehmon Colbert led the way with 15 points, while Marcus Allen had his first double-double of the season.

What they couldn’t stop was ETSU’s Courtney Pigram, who put up a career-high 39 points. Despite Pigram’s heroic night, the Bucs needed Mike Smith’s running bank shot with 4.5 seconds left to pull out the win on their home floor.

The A-Sun’s leading scorer, Kevin Tiggs, was held to 13 points – more than eight points below his average.

For JU, this game has been a long time coming. While this is the second straight season the Dolphins have been in contention for the regular season title, it has been more than 20 years since JU has entered the final month of the season with a share of the lead.

“We’ve been telling our guys over and over that they don’t award championships in January,” Warren said. “We know that we have a very tough opponent in ETSU and that we have to give our best effort in this game.”

JU FEATURED IN ESPN.COM BRACKETOLOGY: The Dolphins entered the ESPN.com “Bracketology” feature, which projects what the NCAA Tournament bracket would like, this week as the Dolphins were the league leaders on Monday morning, assuming the season ended today. JU was seeded 14th by ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi and would play Memphis in Miami, Fla. according to the site. For more on the projected NCAA bracket, click here.

ON THE HORIZON: JU enters Friday night’s game in lofty company as the Dolphins are one of 10 teams nationally to have three players with at least 900 career points. Lehmon Colbert needs just 40 points to become the 26th member of the school’s 1,000-point club. Once he reaches that milestone, it will be the first time in JU history that three members of the club have been on the court at the same time.

WINNING STREAK: With eight straight wins, JU is sporting the seventh-longest active winning streak in the country and the longest for the Dolphins since 1987. St. Mary’s leads the country, having won 15 in a row.