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Mercer (21-6) at Florida Gulf Coast (17-10)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, February 21, 6:05 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Alico Arena (4,500) -- Fort Myers, Florida. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Mercer 14-0, Florida Gulf Coast 11-1. Away Record: Mercer 7-6, Florida Gulf Coast 5-8. Neutral Record: Mercer 0-0, Florida Gulf Coast 1-1. Conference Record: Mercer 12-2, Florida Gulf Coast 11-3. Series Record: Mercer leads, 11-4.

GAME NOTES: The Mercer Bears have won three games in a row, and will have quite the challenge for their fourth when they travel to face the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in an Atlantic Sun clash at Alico Arena.

Mercer has won three games in a row and 11 of its last 12 contests altogether. The Bears own a 12-2 Atlantic Sun record, which is good for first in the conference. Mercer easily downed Northern Kentucky, 89-67, in the team's latest outing on Sunday.

Florida Gulf Coast defeated USC Upstate in the team's most recent contest, 84-80, on Saturday. The Eagles have won five of their last six games, and sit a game behind the Bears for the top spot in the conference at 11-3.

Mercer holds the all-time series lead between the two programs, 11-4. That lead was extended when the Bears took a 68-55 victory over the Eagles back on Jan. 23 at Mercer.

There wasn't much of a contest between Mercer and Northern Kentucky Sunday, as the Bears jumped out ahead at the end of the first half, 52-30. The 22-point lead at the break was more than enough, as Mercer coasted to victory. Langston Hall led the Bears with 25 points in the game, dishing out eight assists and connecting on eight 3-point tries. Anthony White Jr. netted 13 points, and Bud Thomas chipped in with 11 in the win.

Hall leads the Bears in scoring this season with 14.7 ppg on 40.1 percent shooting from the floor. Hall is connecting on an impressive 41.5 percent from 3-point range on the year, and leads the team with 5.8 apg and 1.4 spg. Daniel Coursey is the only other Mercer player to average a double-digit scoring total, netting 10 ppg on 60.4 percent shooting. Coursey's 6.7 rpg mark is the highest on the team, as is his 2 bpg margin.

USC Upstate led Florida Gulf Coast by three points, 41-38, at the half of Saturday's A-Sun bout, but the Eagles came roaring back in the second half to regain the lead and claim the victory. Bernard Thompson scored a team-high 24 points in the win for FGCU, adding six rebounds and five steals. Chase Fieler chipped in with 17 points, and Jamail Jones added 14. Dajuan Graf came off the bench to score 10 points, and Brett Comer dished out a team-high 10 assists.

Thompson, one of the key players in last season's Sweet 16 run for FGCU, leads the team in scoring this season with 16 ppg on 43.8 percent shooting from the field. His 33 steals is tied for the team lead with Comer, who checks in at third in scoring with 13.5 ppg and a team-leading 146 assists. Fieler is second in scoring with 13.8 ppg, averaging a team-high 7.3 rpg as well. FGCU is scoring 71.4 ppg this season through 27 games played.

This is a critical matchup down the stretch for both of these programs, and the Atlantic Sun Conference as well. Florida Gulf Coast has only lost once at home this season, but dropped an earlier contest to Mercer and its 66.5 ppg scoring defense. Still, the home crowd should be enough to propel the Eagles with momentum in this one.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida Gulf Coast 75, Mercer 71

02/21 10:30:32 ET

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