Nov. 24, 2001
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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On the Air: ESPN 600 (Cole Pepper, play-by-play, Nate Stewart, Color)
The Dolphin pre-game show begins at 1:45 p.m.
Also live on www.judolphins.com
Series Record: First Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
Jacksonville University (2-0)
The JU and Belmont game marks the Atlantic Sun Conference opener for both. It is the first of three conference games for the Dolphins in a period of eight days thanks to an expanded 20-game conference slate. JU is 2-0 on the season and has now won 14 of its last 16 games at Swisher Gymnasium. After winning a school-record 12 games at Swisher last season (12-2), the Dolphins are off to a 2-0 start at home this year. Junior point guard Kevin Sheppard is leading the JU attack averaging 19.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game. In the Dolphins' 73-58 win over New Orleans on Monday, Sheppard scored 18 points, tied a career high with seven rebounds handed out three assists and had two steals while committing no turnovers in 30 minutes of action. Junior center Ryan Lewis has made an immediate impact since transferring from Chipola JC. The former Georgia Bulldog is averaging 9.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. The Dolphins are up to their old defensive tricks again, limiting opponents to just 35 percent shooting from the floor and 21 percent from three-point range. JU is 18-1 in its last 19 games when holding opponents to less than 70 points.
Belmont enters today's game 1-1 on the season following a 74-72 win over Valparaiso on Nov. 19 in Nashville. The Bruins shot 52 percent from the floor, including 59 percent in the second half, while limiting the Crusaders to just 36 percent shooting for the game. Junior center Adam Sonn paced three Bruins in double figures with 24 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. He also handed out nine assists, while senior forward Wes Burtner added 21 points and sophomore forward Adam Mark scored 17 and grabbed 11 boards. Burtner leads Belmont in scoring for the season with 21.0 points per game, while Sonn averages 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest.
Today's game marks the first Division I conference game for Belmont as a first-year member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bruins have been competing as an independent since moving to Division I in 1996-97. Last year, Belmont was the second-best three-point shooting team in the country averaging 10.3 three-pointers made per game, second only to the national champion Duke Blue Devils. The Bruins are coached by Rick Byrd, who sports a 319-165 (.660) record in 15-plus seasons at Belmont. Byrd was the 1995 NAIA National Coach of the Year and his Belmont teams averaged 31 wins a season from 1992-96, including four straight trips to the NAIA National Tournament.