Mercer men’s hoops eyes best conference start since 2002-03

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LEXINGTON, Va. (MERCER ATHLETICS) – The Mercer men’s basketball team goes for its best start to conference play in more than a decade on Monday, challenging VMI in a 7 p.m. tipoff at Cameron Hall.

GAME DETAILS

Date: Monday, January 5, 2015 | 7 p.m.

Teams: Mercer (7-8, 2-0 SoCon) at VMI (5-9, 1-2 SoCon)

Location: Lexington, Va. – Cameron Hall

Video: SoCon Digital Network (Wade Branner, Cal Murray)

Radio: New Country 96.5 | IHeartRadio (Rick Cameron)

Livestats: VMIKeydets.com

Tickets: VMI Ticket Sales

Twitter Updates: @MercerMBB

SCOUTING THE OPPONENT

VMI has lost three-straight entering Monday’s game and holds a 5-9 (1-2 SoCon) record on the season. The Keydets are 3-1 at home this year, with two of those victories coming against non-Division I competition.

The Keydets boast a high-powered offense, ranking fifth nationally with an average of 85.7 points per game. Over 52 percent of the team’s shots come from beyond the arc, as the squad leads the country in total 3-pointers made (170), 3-pointers attempted (536) and 3-pointers made per game (12/1).

Sophomore QJ Peterson paces the squad at 19.7 points per game, an average that jumps to 25.3 points per game in league play. Peterson led all scorers with 32 points in the Dec. 6 loss to Mercer, hoisting 26 shots in 37 minutes of playing time.

VMI allows 82.2 points per game, checking in at 341st nationally and last among SoCon teams. The Keydets have given up 90 or more in six games this season, including Mercer’s season-high 90-point output on Dec. 6.

Head coach Duggar Baucom is in his 10th season at VMI, holding a 145-149 overall record with the school. Baucom has surpassed the 20-win mark twice at VMI, most recently presiding over last year’s 22-13 campaign.

FAST FACTS

Mercer is 2-0 in conference play for just the second time under head coach Bob Hoffman. The Bears won their first two Atlantic Sun games in 2012-13 on their way to an outright claim to the league’s regular season title. Mercer hasn’t started 3-0 in conference play since the 2002-03 season.

Head coach Bob Hoffman is a perfect 7-0 against SoCon affiliated teams in his Mercer tenure. In seven seasons on the Mercer sidelines, Hoffman is 14-5 against the current SoCon membership.

Over the last four seasons, the Bears have gone 52-16 after the New Year.

Jibri Bryan has posted double-doubles in both of Mercer’s SoCon games. Bryan’s two double-doubles are the only ones for Mercer this season, and puts him among seven SoCon players with multiple double-dips this season.

The Bears have scored 20 or more off the bench in three straight games, after having done so just once in the first 12 games of the season. Mercer’s 48 points off the bench at Georgia was a season-high, and was a greater bench scoring total than the previous four games combined.

Mercer’s 90 points in the win over VMI was a season-high scoring total for the team. The Bears have scored 90 or more 11 times under Bob Hoffman and are 9-2 in those games.

Ike Nwamu has scored 10 or more in 10 of the last 11 games. His 30 points at Tennessee was a career-high effort and marked his sixth game this season with 20+ points.

Mercer has hit seven or more 3-pointers in eight-straight games, including a season-high 11 made 3’s at UNCG. Prior to the streak, the Bears hadn’t hit seven or more 3’s in any game.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 310 Tucker Sargent joined the 41NBC news team in April 2012. He's from Alabama, but you won't catch him saying "Roll Tide!" Tucker grew up near Auburn before moving to north Alabama. He graduated from Danville High School in 2007 and loves to return to the Tennessee Valley any chance he gets. He moved back south to Troy, Alabama after high school, where he graduated from Troy University in 2011 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism. He interned in Huntsville at WAAY-TV before joining 41NBC. His passion is sports, and his favorite teams are the Auburn Tigers and Troy Trojans. On the weekends you can catch Tucker watching college football on Saturdays and NASCAR on Sundays! He's proud to call middle Georgia home for now and could always use a story idea from you, so don't hesitate to get in touch with him!