Dolphins set to host Stetson in conference opener
The four straight wins for the JU men’s basketball team are in the rearview mirror as the Dolphins begin their second season on Thursday night.

JU (4-1) will begin its Atlantic Sun Conference title defense against Stetson (1-3) on its home floor at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena at 7:15 p.m. to open a two-game homestand.

The Dolphins are off to the best start since the 2001-02 season and are coming off a 14-point win at Auburn on Saturday, thanks in part to a season-high 15 points from freshman Keith McDougald.

While Jacksonville is riding a hot streak, the young Dolphins will face a new animal with the increased intensity of conference play.

“Any time you get into conference play, the games take on greater significance,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “The intensity is going to increase this week and our veterans are letting the young guys know how important these games are.”

What has led the Dolphins to the early winning streak is its defense.

The Dolphins are fourth in the country in steals, averaging 12.4 per game, led by Ayron Hardy – who is second nationally with an average of 4.2 per game. That pressure is leading opponents to turn the ball over an average of 21 times per game, with the Dolphins cashing them in for an average of 24.6 points per game.

Jacksonville has held its last two opponents to less than 60 points, marking the third time in the last six seasons that the Dolphins have accomplished the feat.

- Ayron Hardy’s six steals at Auburn is his third career outing with at least six steals in a game and is the second time this season he has picked up six steals. The first came against Florida Tech on Nov. 20.
- The JU-Stetson series is one of the longest in program history, dating back to 1958, with the two teams facing off at least twice every year since 1999. JU leads the all-time series, 41-30, having won four in a row.
- Since fully returning from a foot injury, Travis Cohn has been on fire – averaging 11.7 points per game in the last three contests.