JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The Jacksonville University men’s basketball team reaches the end of a three-game road swing on Saturday when the Dolphins (8-11, 4-4 Atlantic Sun) take on the East Tennessee State Buccaneers (10-10, 3-4 A-Sun) at the MSHA Athletics Center beginning at 4 p.m. ASun.TV will have the broadcast of the game following the conclusion of an ETSU women’s game earlier in the afternoon. 92.5 FM will have the broadcast locally with Voice of the Dolphins Scott Manze bringing you the action.
A disappointing first half was to blame for Jacksonville’s Thursday night defeat at USC Upstate. The Spartans came out firing and opened up as much as a 20-point first half lead. Undeterred, Jacksonville cut the Upstate advantage all the way down to three points in the second half to match the team’s biggest comeback of the season. Previously, the Dolphins made a 16-point deficit at Wake Forest vanish and turn into a one-point lead in the second half before falling to their ACC foe.
Jarvis Haywood had an off night from the field by his standards, but still came away with a game-high 19 points, maintaining his spot as the leading scorer in the A-Sun at 17.5 points per game. Keith McDougald tacked on 16 points, surpassing Barry Brown (1992-94) and Wayne Kruer (1965-68) and now sitting on 1,059 career points, good for 26th all-time in program history. With 19 more points, McDougald will leap over the top of Harold Fox (1970-72) and into the top 25.
East Tennessee State will provide a stern test for the Dolphins on Saturday, as the Bucs have put together an 8-3 home record so far this season. UNF became the latest victim on Thursday night as ETSU knocked down 32-of-33 from the charity stripe en route to a 99-93 victory. Junior guard Rashawn Rembert leads the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and is the top 3-point shooter in the conference, knocking down .441 of his attempts coming into the game. He’s supported by three other players in double-figures, including A.J. Merriweather, a guard who leads the team in rebounding at 6.5 a game. JU has committed only 10 turnovers combined in the last two games but that will be tested against the team that leads the league in steals at 7.5 per contest.
Historically, East Tennessee State has had Jacksonville’s number, with the Bucs holding a 12-6 edge in 18 meetings between the two sides. The only other A-Sun school with a series lead over JU is Northern Kentucky, and the Norse leads that series only by a 2-1 margin. ETSU and the Dolphins have battled seven times at the MSHA Athletics Center, with the Bucs coming out on top in five of those. Of course, both Jacksonville wins have come in the past two seasons. A year ago, it was 23 points from McDougald and 16 from Javon Dawson that lifted JU to an 83-80 win.
The Dolphins return home next weekend for a pair of games at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum. They’ll take on Lipscomb on Jan. 30 at approximately 7:15 p.m. and face Northern Kentucky on Feb. 1 at about 3:15 p.m. Each game will follow the conclusion of an earlier JU women’s contest.