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Lipscomb (12-18 7-11(ASun))
Mercer (22-10 14-4(ASun))
3/6/2013 | Macon, Ga. - Hawkins Arena | Attendance: 3527
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
MACON, Ga. – This is a situation where Lipscomb Bisons basketball fans better hope and pray that the numbers do lie.
Wednesday night at 7:30 CST the No. 8-seeded Bisons will face No. 1-seed Mercer on its home court at Hawkins Arena in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament. This is the first time that LU, 12-17, 7-11 in the A-Sun has been the eighth seed in the conference tournament.
The Bisons have lost the last seven contests with Mercer, including 71-65 at Allen Arena and 83-58 at Hawkins. The loss at Hawkins marked the sixth-straight loss for the Bisons on Mercer’s home court.
Mercer, 21-10, 14-4 in the conference, is hosting the tournament for the fourth straight year. The Bisons have twice lost to Mercer in first round tournament games at Hawkins the last two seasons.
“Mercer is very good on both ends of the floor,” Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson said. “They have a lot of experience on both ends. They have won a lot of games the past two years. They are very efficient offensively. They don’t have very many weaknesses defensively.
“It is all about our mental preparation. We have to understand what we have to do to give ourselves a chance to win.”
On the brighter side for the Bisons, the last time the host team won the tournament is 2001 when Georgia State was the champion. However, the No.1 seed has won the last two A-Sun Tournament titles and three of the last five.
Sanderson thinks his team will be ready to face a loud and boisterous home crowd and a strong Mercer team.
“We won three of our last five games down the stretch,” Sanderson said. “I wish we had won our last one against North Florida, but unfortunately we didn’t.
“We played a good game against North Florida. We had a bad spell in the last seven or eight minutes. But we have played better the last two or three weeks. We have to eliminate those bad four or five minute spells where we don’t score and we aren’t quite as good defensively. We have to sustain our play better especially against a talented team like Mercer.”
Four of Lipscomb’s starters average in double figures. Senior guard Deonte Alexander is the leader with 13.6 points per game. Three average 11.3 points per game - center Stephen Hurt, the A-Sun Freshman of the Year; forward Malcolm Smith and forward Martin Smith.
Hurt is third in the conference in rebounding with 7.9 per game.
“We need all of them to have big games for us,” Sanderson said. “Stephen had a solid freshman season. We definitely need him to play well.”
Sanderson will be counting heavily on Malcolm Smith, who has gradually returned from an injury sustained two weeks ago, to carry the team against Mercer.
“Malcolm can go out and get 20 points and 12 rebounds,” Sanderson said. “He is not quite back in the swing of things, but I plan to go more with him.
“He can get us to the free throw line in a hurry. We need him to play well. He is an emotional type of player. I think it has given him a boost a little bit to know we are counting on him.”