FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2009
Men's hoops set to host Florida Gulf Coast in key contest
With just seven days left in the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season, JU will play four big games during that stretch – starting with Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast.

Tipoff is set for 4:15 p.m. at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in the second half of a doubleheader with the JU women.

JU (14-11, 12-4 A-Sun) is tied with Belmont for first place in the league, with the potential for a winner-take-all matchup next Saturday in Nashville.

But before all the championship-hype can begin, the Dolphins have to take care of business at home – starting with a rematch with the Eagles on Saturday. Jacksonville is looking to rebound from an 89-83 loss to Campbell in which the Dolphins trailed by as many as 25 in the first half.

The Dolphins are in unchartered waters, holding a share of first place this late in the season for the first time in the history of the program. The latest JU held a share of the league lead was Feb. 16, 1987.

“One of the things that we’ve told the guys this week is that you have to focus on the next game and right now that is Florida Gulf Coast,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “They are a tough team that played well against us the first time at their place.

“We know we have to come out ready to play Jacksonville basketball.”

JU is looking to regain its form that sparked a nine-game winning streak, the longest streak since 1980. During the streak, JU held its opponents to an average of 60.4 points and held them to just over 40 percent shooting.

That has not been the case of late for the Dolphins. Jacksonville’s last five opponents have all hit 41.5 percent from the floor or better, with the two teams hitting more than 50 percent of their shots.

Another change has been JU’s inability to control the boards. The Dolphins have lost the rebounding battle in four of the last five games after owning the boards in 19 of their first 20 games.

“We know we have to do a better job on the defensive end, especially on the boards,” Warren said. “We’ve got to limit our opponents second chances opportunities, which has hurt us in the past couple of weeks.”