MACON, Ga.- It doesn't get any easier for the men's basketball team who is playing its third game in six days. Mercer (5-15, 4-10 A-Sun) plays host to yet another one of the top three teams in the conference and looking to snap a three-game winless streak as Florida Atlantic invades the University Center Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. tip off. Game Notes
Mercer is in the midst of a four-game homestand that has the Bears playing four games in nine days and hosting three of the A-Sun's top teams. The span of four straight home games for the Bears is the longest conference homestand for Mercer since Feb. 7-16, 2002.
Florida Atlantic has clinched a spot in the A-Sun postseason championship and currently sits in a two-way tie for third with Belmont. The Owls downed Mercer, 91-80, in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 7 in Boca Raton.
"Once again, we find ourselves playing one of the top teams in the conference," said Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker. "FAU is playing consistently good basketball. They are getting outstanding play from Rice, Webb and Monroe, not to mention Young, who's been on fire. They are a potent team. We need to play better overall and get back to where we were at Kennesaw State and East Tennessee. "
The Bears are again hoping the trend from last season continues as Mercer and FAU split last season's series, with each team winning on the other's home court. Florida Atlantic defeated Mercer, 104-101, in a three-overtime marathon, Jan. 3, 2005, in the University Center, while the Bears topped FAU, 107-88, in Boca Raton on Feb. 19, 2005.
Florida Atlantic (11-10, 10-4 A-Sun) has won two straight and seven of its last 10 games, with two of the three losses coming at the hands of league-leading Lipscomb. The Owls lead the conference in 3-point shooting (40.8 percent), and rank third (47.6 percent) in overall shooting from the field, but are 11th in 3-point field goal defense, allowing teams to shoot 40.3 percent from beyond the arc. FAU features the A-Sun's fifth-leading scorer in junior DeAndre Rice, who is averaging 17.4 points a game. Despite not starting the last three contests, he is averaging over 25 minutes in those games. Teammate Rodney Webb is tied for 16th in the conference, with 14.6 ppg., and is sixth in the league in rebounding with 8.0 boards a game.
The Bears are led offensively by junior guard Jacob Skogen's 15.8 points and the senior combination of Andrew Brown in the backcourt and Will Emerson in the post. Over the last four games, Skogen is averaging 16.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while Brown is averaging 14.0 points a game, including 14-of-17 from the charity stripe, and is collecting an impressive average of 6.3 rebounds over the same time span. Emerson is averaging 10.9 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds on the season.