Dolphins host league-leader East Tennessee State

Feb. 6, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Six games remain for the Jacksonville men's basketball team in the regular season, with four of those at home.

But the Dolphins will be facing their most difficult tests in the coming weeks as they battle for position in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament - facing the three teams that are ahead of them in the standings at home.

First up for JU (11-11, 7-5 A-Sun) is league leader East Tennessee State on Thursday with a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

The Bucs (18-7, 12-1 A-Sun) have won 10 straight games, including a 87-57 win over Campbell at home on Monday night.

"Obviously East Tennessee is playing well as they lead the league," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "It's exciting for us to get to play at home again, but we also now we've got to keep improving each time out. We're still working hard on getting better as a team because there is still a lot of season left."

While ETSU is the hottest team in the league, JU isn't far behind after winning four of its last five and sporting a 7-3 record in 2007.

JU's success can be attributed to a few factors - taking care of its home floor, shooting the ball well and balanced scoring with a freshman influence.

The Dolphins have enjoyed a solid start to its first full season at the Arena, winning all seven games Downtown on top of two wins at Swisher Gymnasium.

Jacksonville has also shot the ball well, hitting more than 50 percent of its shots in at least one half in the last seven games.

That hot-shooting has been supported by the scoring being spread around a lot of players. The freshmen class has accepted the challenge, scoring a majority of JU's points in the last seven games.

And it's been a true team effort among the youngsters. Lehmon Colbert has scored in double figures in each of the last five games while Tyrone Curnell has contributed double figure scoring efforts twice.

Adding to that is the trio of Ben Smith, Corey Claitt and Derek Duggins. Smith put up 11 points and four assists against UNF while Claitt went for 11 points as well, snapping a streak of six straight games in which he was held into single-digits.

Duggins has added a spark off the bench with Curnell as they have been key factors in the Dolphins bench scoring more than 18 points in the last seven games as well.