JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men’s basketball team enters the weekend on a roll, having scored 88 points in each of its last two wins over Lipscomb and Stetson. Now at 7-9 (3-2 Atlantic Sun), the Dolphins host Florida Gulf Coast (10-7, 4-0 A-Sun) at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday at approximately 3:15 p.m. following the conclusion of the Jacksonville-North Florida women’s basketball game, looking to gain ground on the Eagles in the conference race. Scott Manze and Artis Gilmore will have the action on 92.5 FM and ASun.TV.
Thursday’s win over Stetson was of course a huge night for Keith McDougald. The senior guard and Jacksonville native not only went over 1,000 points for his collegiate career, but he managed to do it on a night in which he set his career highs for points (27) and assists (seven). That fails to tell the whole story for the Dolphins though. A total of five players scored in double-figures on the night and JU forced the Hatters into 18 turnovers, six over their season average coming in. One of the best performances of the night came from RJ Slawson. The graduate transfer hit 6-of-9 from the floor including a pair of 3-pointers, and went off for 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks. After averaging 7.0 points per game in the first 13 games of the season, he’s upped his scoring to 14.0 a game in the last three JU outings.
Easy to get lost amid all the scorers on the Jacksonville roster was the play of point guard Vince Martin. Martin attempted only three shots in 30 minutes and scored three points – a 3-pointer that came in the final two minutes. Nevertheless, Martin was heavily involved in the success of the team on the night, contributing three rebounds and three steals, and handing out six assists without a single turnover. In the last three games Martin has dropped 16 dimes against one turnover, increasing his assist-to-turnover ratio to 2.4:1, a number that ranks second in the entire conference.
Florida Gulf Coast lost a little bit of its luster in non-conference play as last season’s Atlantic Sun champions and Sweet 16 participants went 6-7 early on as injuries and suspensions took a toll. The Eagles have been looking better as of late, winning their last four games in the league by an average of 8.5 points and allowing only 62.0 points a game in the process. Bernard Thompson was voted as the Atlantic Sun Preseason Defender of the Year and pours in a team-high 14.2 points. Brett Comer is tied for the league lead with 5.4 assists a game. Chase Fieler is third on the team with 12.9 points and grabs a team-best 6.9 boards each time out.
Saturday marks the 13th all-time meeting between the two schools, a series dating back to the 2007-08 season. Jacksonville won the first seven games, but Florida Gulf Coast has flipped the script in recent years and is on a five-game winning streak over the Dolphins. In last year’s game in Jacksonville, FGCU came away with a heated 81-78 victory.
Next week brings the first men’s basketball edition this season of the River City Rumble as Jacksonville travels to North Florida to play the Ospreys on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. The game will be televised as the A-Sun Game of the Week on CSS and will also be available on ESPN3.