JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men’s basketball team comes in disappointed but hungry after two losses last weekend on a road trip that took them to Gardner-Webb and Wake Forest. At 1-3 on the season, the Dolphins hope to get back to winning ways on Saturday as they host the Florida A&M Rattlers at 3 p.m. in the first game of the season at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Scott Manze and Artis Gilmore will have the call of the game on 92.5 FM, with streaming video available on ASun.TV.
Foul trouble and rebounding were at the root of Jacksonville’s problems in its two recent defeats. The Dolphins were whistled for a combined 53 fouls against the Runnin’ Bulldogs and Demon Deacons. Three players ultimately fouled out for the Dolphins in the two contests and their two opponents shot a total of 73 free throws, connecting on 50.
On the glass, Gardner-Webb enjoyed a 39-29 advantage on Saturday. Among its 39 rebounds were 15 offensive boards, leading to 16 second chance points by the Runnin’ Bulldogs. JU’s rebounding difficulties were even more pronounced on Monday night, when Wake Forest grabbed 57, 25 on the offensive end. The 57 rebounds given up by Jacksonville were the most allowed by the Dolphins since Lamar had 58 against them on Feb. 1, 1997.
Those troubles aside, JU still presents a number of challenges of its own. The Dolphins enter the weekend ranked second in the Atlantic Sun, scoring 82.2 points per game. Additionally, the Fins look to push the pace, ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation in terms of offensive tempo with an average of 80 possessions per contest. Jarvis Haywood has scored at least 15 points in each game he’s played on the season and is third in the A-Sun in scoring at 17.0 per game.
Defensively, Jacksonville’s disrupting style of play has the Dolphins leading the league in steals at 8.3 per game, nearly two full steals ahead of East Tennessee State in second place. Pacing JU in the category are Haywood and Vince Martin, co-league leaders in the category with 2.0 thefts per contest.
Lining up opposite the Green and Gold on Saturday will be Florida A&M out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Jacksonville leads the all-time series with the Rattlers, 6-2, but this will be the first meeting between the two schools since the 1998-99 season. FAMU comes in with an identical 1-3 record to Jacksonville, having also fallen in all three of its road games. The lone Florida A&M win came on Nov. 14 when the Rattlers downed Stetson, 63-60. Jamie Adams leads FAMU in scoring at 14.5 points per game and will challenge Jacksonville’s perimeter defense. The senior guard has canned 11-of-20 3-point attempts this season, a .550 success rate from deep. He’s joined in double-figures by Muhammad Abdul-Aleem (10.3 ppg) and Reggie Lewis (10.0 ppg).
Following Saturday’s game, the Dolphins continue their three-game homestand on Monday night against the No. 16 Florida Gators. That game is set for a 7 p.m. tip-off and will also be played at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. JU then opens the month of December with a game at Swisher Gym against Trinity Baptist on Dec. 3.