JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Coming off a victory against Trinity Baptist on Tuesday night, the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team looks to make it two in a row and earn its first road win of the year this Saturday as the Dolphins (3-4) take on the Florida Atlantic Owls (2-6). Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Boca Raton with Scott Manze covering the action on 92.5 FM. A live stream of the game is also available through the FAU website, though a subscription fee applies.
Tuesday’s win was an opportunity for some of the less heralded Jacksonville players to once again step up. Half of the team’s 88 points came from the reserves, including a game-high 19 points from freshman guard Sam Hunt, who hit 10-of-11 free throws in the second half. Marcellous Bell took advantage of his first career start with 17 points – 15 of which came in the first half. J.R. Holder added a career-high 13 points, while Tyler Alderman had career highs in both rebounds (10) and blocks (five). The Dolphins were particularly deadly at the line, where the rest of the team followed Hunt’s lead and shot 28-of-33 (.848) on the night.
Vince Martin has been making the Jacksonville offense tick all season and Tuesday’s game was no different. The grad student scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting, but also facilitated the offense with six assists – his fourth game of the year with at least five dimes. Within the Atlantic Sun, Martin ranks 19th in scoring (10.4), third in assists (4.6), in a second place tie for 3-point percentage (.500) and leads the conference in steals (1.7).
Florida Atlantic has gotten off to a rough start this season, but ended a six-game slide with a victory over UCF on Tuesday night. Of course, there isn’t too much to be ashamed of in some of those losses. The Owls suffered a defeat at Duke on Nov. 15, played Boston College to a three-point game two days later, then lost on a neutral court to a currently undefeated Toledo team on Nov. 24.
Pablo Bertone set a new career high with 31 points in the win over the Knights earlier this week, and paces the FAU offense with an average of 18.8 points per game. Jackson Trapp is the other player for the Owls currently averaging double-figures, coming in at 10.4 ppg. JU’s big men will have to contend with the duo of Justin Raffington – who scores and rebounds at the same 7.9 per game clip – and Dragan Sekelja (7.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg).
The Owls are new to Conference USA this year after coming over from the Sun Belt, but switching leagues isn’t anything new for the program. Jacksonville and FAU are former rivals from the Atlantic Sun, which the Owls called home from 1998-99 to 2005-06. JU holds a 12-8 lead in the all-time series with Florida Atlantic, including a 9-8 lead while the two were conference foes. The Owls have won the last three games in the series, which has been on hiatus since Feb. 25, 2006.
Following Saturday’s contest, Jacksonville returns to campus to tackle final exams. Once those are complete, the Dolphins make their way back to the court on Dec. 17 with a road game at UCF at 7 p.m.