MACON, Ga. – Fresh off its stunning upset of 18th-ranked USC, the Mercer men’s basketball team opens its 2007-08 home slate by playing host to Alabama Tuesday night at a sold-out University Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Bears are looking to open the season 2-0 for the first time since Coach Mark Slonaker’s first season at the helm of the Bears’ program when Mercer topped Piedmont and Winthrop in 1997.
Mercer shocked the Trojans, 96-81, Saturday at the Galen Center by placing five players in double figures en route to grabbing a 21-point first-half lead and holding onto the advantage despite a furious rally by the Trojans in the opening minutes of the second half. The victory marked Mercer's first win versus a ranked opponent since a 75-72 win over No. 19 Arkansas-Little Rock on Feb. 23, 1989.
The Bears placed five players in double figures, with James Florence pouring in 30 points and going a perfect 6-of-6 from the line. Junior Calvin Henry added 14 points with Shaddean Aaron chipping in 13 points. Senior Brian Pfohl nearly recorded his second career double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Freshman Brian Mills dropped in 10 points with Michael Ellis adding nine points and collecting 10 boards, all on the defensive glass.
Alabama is making its first-ever visit to Macon following an 84-72 season-opening win past former Atlantic Sun Conference member Troy last Friday night. The Crimson Tide leads the series with Mercer, 4-1, as the Bears have not beaten Alabama since a 28-23 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament win in 1923.
“We are very excited about having a high-quality team such as Alabama come into the University Center,” said Mercer head coach Mark Slonaker. “It will be a huge challenge for us. [Alabama] is so well-coached and they play with such high intensity. They pride themselves on working hard. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
The game features two reigning Conference Players of the Week in their respective conferences, as Florence earned the A-Sun honor while ‘Bama forward Richard Hendrix was named SEC Player of the Week after scoring 22 points and pulling down 23 rebounds against Troy.
Following the match-up with Alabama, the Bears are back on the road for two games, beginning with Harvard on Friday night, followed by Boston College on Sunday.