EVANSVILLE, Ind. (MERCER RELEASE) – The Mercer men's basketball aims to push its winning streak to three on Monday night as the Bears to battle with Evansville at the Ford Center. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Mercer (2-1) is fresh off a two-game home stand in which the Bears downed Reinhardt 95-53 and beat Seton Hall 77-74 in double overtime. The Orange and Black are also eying their first road win of the year after being edged by three points in the opener at Texas.
The Purple Aces are 2-0 on the year after picking up a pair of wins against non-division I Martin Methodist and IUPUI last week. The team is 1-0 at home and 27-10 in the Ford Center since it opened in 2011.
Sophomore guard D.J. Ballentine carrys the Evansville offense, averaging 29.0 points and 6.5 assists per game. The 2012-13 MVC All-Freshman team member averaged 8.1 points per game last year and is the team's top returning scorer.
The Purple Aces return two starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team that went 21-15 (10-8 MVC). Evansville was picked to finish sixth among MVC competition in a preseason poll of the league's coaches.
Head coach Marty Simmons is in his seventh year with the program and has led the team into postseason play in each of the last three years. Last season, the team went 3-1 in the CIT, establishing the school's most postseason wins since the 1971.
Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman has led the Bears to seven wins against high-major teams in six seasons with Mercer. The lastest win in that series came against Seton Hall on November 16. Hoffman has also led the Bears to road wins at Alabama (twice), Auburn, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee.
Langston Hall tied a career-high with 24 points against Seton Hall on Saturday. He's scored 20 or more in two of three games this season and nine times in his career.
Daniel Coursey has scored double-figures in all three of Mercer's games. He registered the second double-double of his career (14 points, 11 rebounds) at Texas and followed that with a 20-point outing against Reinhardt. On Saturday, Coursey had 10 points against Seton Hall.
Langston Hall, Daniel Coursey, Jakob Gollon and Bud Thomas have started 71 games together in their Mercer careers. This year, they are joined by Anthony White Jr. to form an all-senior starting five.
Mercer and Evansville have met on the hardwood four times, with each team claiming a pair of wins. The last meeting between the schools was on January 5, 1980 in Macon. Mercer captured a 61-59 overtime win in the game.