JU dives into SunTrust River City Rumble matchup on Saturday

Jan. 17, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After a cold December, the JU men's basketball team has caught fire in January, winning five straight, with the last two being won at the final buzzer.

Riding that wave of momentum, the Dolphins (8-8, 4-0 A-Sun) put their first place mark on the line on Saturday as they travel to face crosstown rival North Florida in the SunTrust River City Rumble.

JU entered the 2008 calendar year having lost eight straight, including an 0-7 mark in the month of December.

Since overcoming a 19-point deficit in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener at home versus Stetson, the Dolphins have regained their confidence. JU has won five games in a row for the first time in seven years and is 4-0 in conference play for only the third time in school history.

"We are playing better because we're playing with much more consistency and confidence," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "Our effort has improved, but we still have a lot of room for improvement. We have to realize that there is a target on our backs now and we're going to get the best effort from everyone the rest of the season."

Watching the Dolphins play of late is not for the faint of heart. Surgeon general warnings should be placed on all tickets that warn fans of last-second heroics that will keep them glued to the edge of their seats.

During the winning streak, JU has rallied in the second half and survived its opponents' attempts to rally as well. The streak began with the Dolphins digging that 19-point hole against Stetson to force overtime, winning in the third extra period.

JU was able to overcome a slow start to rally past Florida Gulf Coast and then played its most complete game of the season at Kennesaw State.

That momentum continued for the first 33 minutes at Mercer, before the Bears made a spirited rally that was thwarted by Ben Smith's buzzer-beating shot over two players.

With that memory in their mind, the Dolphins were able to rally from a four-point deficit in the final 12 seconds to beat Savannah State by one as two freshmen made big plays. Travis Cohn hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one and Ayron Hardy caught a pass from Smith to hit a running jumper at the buzzer to finish off the Tigers.