Mercer (2-1) vs. Illinois-Chicago (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Site: UVI Sports & Fitness Center (3,500) -- St. Thomas,
Virgin Islands. Television: None. Home Record: Mercer 2-0, UIC 1-0. Away
Record: Mercer 0-0, UIC 0-0. Neutral Record: Mercer 0-1, UIC 0-1. Conference
Record: Mercer 0-0, UIC 0-0. Series Record: Illinois-Chicago leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: After both teams lost in the first round on Friday, the Mercer
Bears and the Illinois-Chicago Flames will try to reverse their fortunes in
the second round of the 2012 Paradise Jam at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center
in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Bears played very well in the opening 20 minutes of their first-round
matchup versus George Mason, and limited the Patriots to 28 percent shooting
from the floor in the first half to take a 23-21 lead into the halftime.
However, Mercer could not keep it up and ended up dropping a 52-49 decision to
GMU. Coach Bob Hoffman's team entered the tourney on a seven-game win streak
dating back to last season, which was the longest active winning streak in the
nation, along with a 2-0 record after posting easy victories over Sewanee
(65-36) and Oglethorpe (70-25). The Bears struggled offensively, converting
only 16-of-44 attempts from the floor in Friday's loss.
UIC also came up short and suffered its first loss of the season in the first
round of this tournament as it was bested, 66-59, by New Mexico. The Flames
trailed by 14 points at the intermission, but staged a second-half comeback by
going on a 10-2 run after halftime. However, the Lobos still somehow managed
to win despite making only five field goals over the final 20 minutes. The
Flames opened the season with a 59-52 win over UC Riverside at UIC Pavilion.
Mercer's 2-1 start has been accumulated without the Atlantic Sun Conference
Preseason Player of the Year, Langston Hall. Travis Smith has stepped up while
Hall continues to recover from an ankle injury. The senior guard scored a
game-high 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting in Friday's loss, making him the only
Mercer player to reach double figures in the low-scoring affair. The Bears
have a very deep rotation as 11 different players saw action and 10 of them
played 10 minutes or more versus George Mason. Daniel Coursey provided a big-
time spark off the bench with seven points, five rebounds and two blocked
shots. Jakob Gollon also had two blocks to go along with his team-high four
steals and eight points.
Senior forward Josh Crittle led the flames with a team-high 15 points and he
also grabbed seven rebounds in the team's season-opening win over UC
Riverside, but foul trouble versus New Mexico kept him from achieving that
same level of success the last time out. The talented forward produced only
eight points and five rebounds while committing four turnovers in 26 minutes
of action on Friday. Hayden Humes, Daniel Barnes and Gary Talton all played
vital roles in the close loss. Humes went 6-of-11 from the field, including a
2-of-5 effort from long distance, to score a team-best 16 points. Talton was
not quite as efficient, but he managed to net 6-of-8 attempts at the foul line
to provide 14 points, which he paired with four assists. Barnes added 11
points behind a 3-of-8 shooting clip from three-point range.
This should be a relatively even matchup between two teams that are sure to be
sour after Friday's outcomes. The Flames should be more successful in their
second appearance in the Paradise Jam as it is unlikely Crittle, Barnes and
Talton will combine to shoot as poorly as they did on Friday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois-Chicago 65, Mercer 62
11/17 10:33:01 ET
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