JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Withstanding a barrage of Lipscomb 3-pointers and coming away with a hard-fought 88-85 victory on Monday, the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team (6-9, 2-2 Atlantic Sun) comes back home to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Thursday night at 7 p.m. to meet the visiting Stetson Hatters (3-12, 1-2 A-Sun). Scott Manze and Artis Gilmore will have the call of the game on 92.5 FM and ASun.TV.
To earn their first road victory of the season, the Dolphins had to stand toe-to-toe with Lipscomb’s wealth of outside shooters. It wasn’t easy. The Bisons hit 13 3-pointers on 34 attempts from distance in the contest and Jacksonville found itself down six with less than four minutes remaining, but a huge six-point burst tied the game in a matter of moments. The Dolphins then put the clamps on the Bisons, blocking away two of their three shot attempts in the last 10 seconds after Jarvis Haywood had given the lead back to JU.
After injuries made for a non-conference season in which the Dolphins had to mix-and-match starting fives, JU is getting in a groove with the same five players receiving every start through the first four A-Sun games and each starter averaging at least nine points a game. Haywood has poured in an average of 18.5 points per game in conference play, including 23 in the win on Monday. Keith McDougald has gotten back to his old scoring habits as well, putting in 13.3 points in A-Sun games so far. The senior guard stands at 977 career points after the Lipscomb game, needing 23 more to become the 29th player in JU program history to reach 1,000 for his career.
Stetson enters Thursday on a two-game losing streak, but has managed to split its last six games after starting the season 0-9. Willie Green went for 24 points the last time out against Florida Gulf Coast and is averaging 13.9 points per game on the season. Aaron Graham (10.3) and Raymone Andrews (10.1) also average double-figures, but the Hatters are last in the conference in scoring offense at only 60.8 points per game. Part of that can be attributed to strategy. Stetson plays at one of the slowest paces in the league and is among the best at valuing possession and not turning the ball over. However, with a .415 field goal percentage through 15 games, the Hatters are struggling to convert those possessions into points.
With a rivalry that dates back to the 1957-58 season, Jacksonville has met Stetson on the hardwood more than any other opponent. Through 77 all-time meetings the Dolphins have a 44-33 advantage over the Hatters, and have won the last seven games played between the two sides in Jacksonville. In each of the past three seasons the home team has won each game, with an 81-72 Stetson victory in DeLand countered by a 71-70 JU triumph in Swisher Gym last year.
Jacksonville ends a stretch of six games in 12 days on Saturday afternoon, taking on Florida Gulf Coast at approximately 3:15 p.m back at Veterans Memorial Arena. The men’s game will follow the women’s 1 p.m. showdown with North Florida.