JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Final exams might be over, but now isn’t the time to rest for the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team. The Dolphins (3-5) travel to take on UCF (5-3) in Orlando on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the CFE Arena. Fans who bring a non-perishable canned food item will receive one free ticket to the contest while supplies last. For those who can’t make the trip, ESPN3 will have all the action streaming online, and Scott Manze will provide the call on 92.5 FM.
With Tuesday being the final non-conference road tune-up of the season, Jacksonville will be looking to grab some momentum as they barrel towards Atlantic Sun play. While the offense has performed well regardless of the location, JU’s defense has suffered away from home. In four away games so far this season, the Dolphins are giving up 87.8 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot .476 from the floor.
One player who seems to relish the chance to silence opposing crowds is Jarvis Haywood. The team’s leading scorer on the season at 16.0 points per game, the sophomore has seen an uptick in that average to 17.5 ppg in Jacksonville’s four away contests. Vince Martin has also thrived on the road, averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals in those games.
UCF rolls into Tuesday night as the winner of two straight – one against JU’s A-Sun rival, Stetson. The Knights have four players averaging in double-figures, led by Calvin Newell who pours in 17.6 points per game. Isaiah Sykes isn’t far behind at 15.3 ppg, while Tristan Spurlock (12.3 ppg) and Kasey Wilson (10.9 ppg) round out the quartet. Collectively, those four take over 72 percent of the team’s shots this season. One strategy to slow down the Knights could be to simply send them to the foul line. UCF connects on only .536 (103-of-192) of its free throws, the worst percentage among all 351 Division I teams.
Jacksonville ends the month of December with three home games, including the conference opener against Mercer at Swisher Gym on Dec. 30. Before all that, the Dolphins return to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena to take on the Samford Bulldogs on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.