JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The road hasn’t been too kind to the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team this season. The Dolphins (8-12, 4-5 Atlantic Sun) come into Thursday night on a three-game losing streak – each of those losses coming away from home – with those defeats by a combined 15 points. Home has been a different story. JU is 7-3 in the friendly confines of Swisher Gym and the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena this season, and JVM Arena is where the Dolphins will look to take down a team they’ve already beaten on the road, the Lipscomb Bisons (8-12, 3-6 A-Sun), when the two sides meet at 7:15 p.m. Scott Manze and Artis Gilmore will have the call on 92.5 FM with the game broadcast live on ASun.TV and WatchCollegeInsider.com.
The story was eerily similar in each of Jacksonville’s losses last weekend. Fall behind by double-digits in the first half, steadily close the gap before halftime and then take off in the second half with a renewed energy. Down 20 to USC Upstate on Thursday night, Jacksonville pulled to within three points with more than eight minutes remaining before the Spartans could put them away. Two days later, JU was down by 14 in the first half at East Tennessee State but roared back to take a five-point lead midway through the second half. ETSU battled back only to see Jarvis Haywood put the Dolphins back on top with 25 seconds remaining. A bucket from Hunter Harris proved to the difference though, his bank shot with 10 seconds to go lifting the Bucs to a 76-75 win.
Things were different for the Dolphins on Jan. 6 however, as JU had one of its best offensive performances of the season in an 88-85 win over the Bisons in Nashville. Haywood led the way with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and RJ Slawson added 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Both Slawson and Haywood had blocks in the final 10 seconds to deny Lipscomb the chance to tie. Freshman Josh Williams set what was then a career high with 28 points in the game, but the Dolphins held the Smith twins – Martin and Malcolm – to a combined 17 points, well below the 30 points they come into Thursday averaging collectively.
If there’s one focal point for the Lipscomb offense, it no doubt is the team’s ability and willingness to shoot 3-pointers. The first time these two teams got together, the Bisons matched or set new records against a Cliff Warren-coached team by hitting on 13 treys and attempting 34 in the game. On the season, Lipscomb attempts 45.3 percent of its shots and scores 34.9 percent of its points from deep, both highs within the A-Sun. Martin Smith is second in the A-Sun to Haywood in points per game, coming in at 16.6. J.C. Hampton adds in 14.3 points and three assists per game. Khion Sankey leads the conference by hitting .449 of his 3-point attempts.
Jacksonville closes out the weekend on Saturday afternoon by hosting Northern Kentucky back at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena at approximately 3:15 p.m., following the conclusion of the women’s game between the Dolphins and USC Upstate which begins at 1 p.m.