JU faces Mercer in A-Sun test on Thursday

Feb. 18, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After surviving a scare on Friday night, the JU men's basketball team enters its final four games of the regular season rested and ready to resume its chase for the Atlantic Sun Conference title.

The Dolphins (13-11, 9-3 A-Sun) are looking to keep pace with Belmont as they try to hunt down the Bruins for the school's first regular season conference title. JU hosts Mercer on Thursday and Kennesaw State on Saturday to wrap up its home schedule.

"These are two big games and we have to be prepared because both of these teams are playing well right now," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "There are a lot of things that we need to work on this week, but our focus is on us getting better each day."

JU was able to stay in the hunt for the regular season title thanks in part to Ben Smith's heroics in overtime against UNF.

The sophomore guard scored 13 of his game-high 25 in overtime, including a pair of 3-pointers that quickly turned a four-point deficit into a two-point lead that JU wouldn't relinquish.

While Smith was stellar in overtime, he got some assistance from a pair of freshmen.

Travis Cohn and Szymon Lukasiak had season highs in scoring against the Ospreys as the JU bench racked up 28 points, the second highest total of the season. Lukasiak had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting while Cohn scored 11 points.

"We preach every day in practice about being ready when your number is called and Friday showed why," said JU head coach Cliff Warren.

Jacksonville enters the weekend trailing the Bruins by just a game in the loss column, but has some other notes of historical interest on the horizon.

With two wins in the final four games, the Dolphins will clinch their second straight winning season - just the fourth time in the past 20 years that JU has accomplished the feat.

Also at stake for the Dolphins is seeding in the upcoming A-Sun Tournament. The Dolphins hold a slim one-game lead over ETSU for sole possession of second place.

"We're focused on us right now and we'll let everything else sort itself out," Warren said. "We need to keep working hard in practice and getting better as a team with more consistency."