MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – The second-seeded Mercer men's basketball team is set to take on No. 3 USC Upstate in the Atlantic Sun tournament semifinal on Thursday at Hawkins Arena. Game time is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
Mercer (24-8) advanced to the semifinals for the fifth-straight season with an 85-64 win over No. 7 Jacksonville on Tuesday night in Macon. The Bears can book a trip to the league's championship game for the second-straight season with a win on Thursday.
SCOUTING USC UPSTATE
USC Upstate advanced to the A-Sun Tournament semifinals for the second-straight year by virtue of an 80-74 win over North Florida on Tuesday night.
The Spartans have won four of their last five games and enter Thursday with a 19-13 overall record. The team is 5-11 on the road this year, including a 62-60 overtime loss to Mercer at Hawkins Arena on Jan. 4.
USC Upstate is led offensively by senior Torrey Craig, who picked up first team All-Conference honors for the third-straight season on Monday. Craig ranks second among A-Sun players with a 16.6 points per game average and also pulls down an average of 7.0 rebounds per game - fourth highest among league players.
Senior Ricardo Glenn led the conference in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and field goal percentage (.632) during the regular season on his way to All-Conference second team honors. The big man has posted 11 double-double performances on the year, including a 17-point, 14-rebound effort against Mercer on Feb. 2.
Head coach Eddie Payne is in his 12th year at the helm of the program and owns a 176-189 record with the team. He's taken the Spartans to the postseason once, appearing in the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Mercer owns a 11-3 lead in the all-time series with USC Upstate, and had won 10-straight against the Spartans before losing 80-61 on Feb. 2 in Spartanburg. Mercer has never been defeated by USC Upstate in Macon.
Mercer is back in the A-Sun semis for the fifth-straight season. The Bears are 2-2 in A-Sun semifinals under Bob Hoffman, including a 72-64 win over USC Upstate last year.
Mercer aims to capture the program's first NCAA Tournament bid since 1985, when the Bears won the TAAC and went on to drop a 65-58 decision to Georgia Tech in the first round.
Langston Hall dished 10 assists last time out to move into a tie for 1st place in A-Sun history with 613 career helpers. He's only 1 away from breaking conference record set by Napoleon Byrdsong of Centenary (1979-83).
Mercer was 4-2 during the regular season against FGCU, USC Upstate and ETSU. The Bears swept the season series with ETSU and split with both FGCU and USC Upstate.
Anthony White Jr's 29 points in Tuesday's quarterfinal was a career-high effort. The senior also set career highs in field goals made (11), field goals attempted (15) and rebounds (7).
Mercer's captured A-Sun regular season Co-Champion honors with win over Jacksonville on Saturday. The title is the team's third regular season A-Sun championship in program history. The Bears were co-champions in 2003 and outright champs last year.
Mercer nearly swept the A-Sun specialty awards this season. Head coach Bob Hoffman was named Coach of the Year, Langston Hall was named Player of the Year, Daniel Coursey was named Defensive Player of the Year and Jakob Gollon was named Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Bob Hoffman was honored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as the 2014 John Lotz "Barnabas" Award winner in an announcement by the organization on Monday. The award is presented annually to the basketball coach who best exhibits a commitment to Christ, integrity and encouragement to others and lives a balanced life.
Jakob Gollon will play in his 150th career game on Thursday, moving him into a tie for 6th place all-time among NCAA career leaders in games played. Gollon was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after suffering medical hardships in his first two collegiate seasons.
Mercer's 21 point win over Jacksonville in the quarterfinals on Feb. 23 was its 13th win by 20 or more points this season. Over the past five seasons, Mercer has won 32 games by 20 or more points.
Langston Hall scored his 1,500th career point and dished his 600th career assist last week. Hall is the only player in A-Sun history to have reached both of those marks.