Men’s Basketball Closes Home Stand with New Year’s Matchup Against Kennesaw State
J.R. Holder (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)
J.R. Holder (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two teams looking to move past shaky performances in their Atlantic Sun openers and grab a vital first win in conference play will meet on Wednesday night at Swisher Gym as the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team (4-8, 0-1 A-Sun) hosts the Kennesaw State Owls (3-11, 0-1 A-Sun). Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m. Scott Manze and Artis Gilmore will have the call on 92.5 FM with a live video stream available on ASun.TV.

Jacksonville played neck and neck with Mercer on Monday for more than 16 minutes. With less than four minutes to play, the Bears were up by just two, 31-29. A 10-0 run going into halftime gave the visitors some much-needed breathing room and the lead only grew from there. By the time it was all said and done, Mercer ended the game with a 55-20 stretch of play over the final 24 minutes. Javon Dawson led the way for JU with 13 points. In four games since a return from injury, the senior forward has averaged more than 10 points, nine rebounds and two steals.

Also coming in on a down note is Kennesaw State. The Owls suffered an 85-60 defeat across town at North Florida on Monday night. Now losers of six straight entering the game, Kennesaw State’s only win over a Division I opponent came back on Nov. 19 in a 73-69 win at Chattanooga. Orlando Coleman has started every game and leads the team with 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Nate Rucker is a new addition to the team and has started the last four games. He scored 18 points and had six rebounds against the Ospreys.

In two matchups last season, the Dolphins and Owls managed a split with each home team coming away with the win. Jacksonville’s 99-92 triple-overtime victory on Jan. 10 of last season earned Cliff Warren his 108th all-time victory to become the winningest coach in program history. That win was the team’s 12th in a row over the Owls, but Kennesaw State ended the streak with a 75-68 win on Feb. 9. In 16 all-time meetings, Jacksonville has a 12-4 edge.

Next up for Jacksonville is the longest trip of the conference season. The Dolphins will travel to play Northern Kentucky on Jan.4 at 7 p.m., and then conclude the set with a game at Lipscomb on Jan. 6 at 6 p.m.