JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Plenty is on the line as the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team takes on USC Upstate on Saturday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. from Swisher Gymnasium. The Dolphins (10-16, 6-9 Atlantic Sun) will celebrate Senior Day for four members of the 2013-14 squad – Javon Dawson, Vince Martin, Keith McDougald and RJ Slawson – and look to officially clinch a spot in the Atlantic Sun Tournament against the Spartans (17-12, 10-6 A-Sun). For the second straight game, Sea Best Seafood is sponsoring a Free Game for Dolphin fans. Admission is free for everyone, so show up early and enjoy the women’s basketball game between JU and Stetson beginning at 1 p.m. and stick around for some exciting men’s hoops. For those who can’t make it to campus, Scott Manze and Artis Gilmore will have the call of the game on 92.5 FM and ASun.TV.
Jacksonville fought back for an important league victory on Thursday night in a 91-86 decision over East Tennessee State. Trailing by seven at the break, the Dolphins stormed past the Buccaneers to win a game for the first time this season in which they were down at halftime. Jarvis Haywood was limited to four points in the first half but went off for 24 in the second half, hitting nine of the 10 shots he attempted, to carry the JU offense. He was helped by a career-high 17 points from Martin, a late flurry from McDougald (who finished with 13) and 12 points off the bench from Sam Hunt. It was an especially impressive offensive performance from the Dolphins since ETSU hit 14 three-pointers and made all 18 free throws it attempted.
By contrast, USC Upstate had a ho-hum victory over North Florida – if an 11-point win on the road in conference can be considered that. The Spartans trailed once in the game on Thursday night at UNF Arena, at 5-4. A 10-0 quickly established a healthy working margin and their lead never dipped below six after that as Upstate grabbed sole possession of third place in the conference thanks to ETSU’s slip-up. Two players that JU will have to be particularly wary of are senior Torrey Craig – who leads the A-Sun in scoring at 17.0 points per game and is fourth in rebounding a 7.3 a contest – and senior Ricardo Glenn, a large-bodied forward who leads the conference in rebounds per game (8.0) and field goal percentage (.639).
The earlier meeting between the two teams in January followed a pattern that haunted Jacksonville for much of the season up until Thursday’s comeback win. On Jan. 23 in Spartanburg, the Spartans opened up a 20-point first half lead and led by 15 at the break. After playing mostly even for the first few minutes in the second half, JU exploded for a 10-0 run that cut the Upstate advantage down to three points with more than eight minutes to play. That ended up being as close as the Dolphins would get though, as the Spartans fed off their home crowd and earned a 79-69 win at the Hodge Center. Jacksonville still leads the overall series, 8-5, but USC Upstate has now won four of the past five meetings.
The regular season concludes next week as JU goes on the road for a pair of games in Georgia. The Dolphins start out on Feb. 27 at Kennesaw State in a 7 p.m. tip-off before closing things out on March 1 against Mercer at 1 p.m.