Mercer (2-2) vs. Wake Forest (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 19, 2:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center (14,538) -- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Television: None. Home Record: Mercer 2-0, Wake Forest 1-0. Away Record: Mercer 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Neutral Record: Mercer 0-2, Wake Forest 0-2. Conference Record: Mercer 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Series Record: Wake Forest leads 1-0.
GAME NOTES: In a consolation round of the Paradise Jam the Mercer Bears will be paired up with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
The two squads have lost both of their games in the tournament. For Mercer the Bears fought tough with George Mason in the opening round but fell 52-49. In the second contest Mercer was much less competitive in taking a 62-36 loss from Illinois-Chicago. The two losses erased what was a strong 2-0 start to the season for the Bears. Mercer is back on the court next Sunday when it hosts Furman.
Wake Forest had a similar path through the tournament. First the Demon Deacons stayed right with Connecticut before losing 77-71. The let-down came in the second game against Iona with Wake Forest falling 94-68. Wake Forest is now 1-2 this season with a 79-67 victory over Radford the other decision on the ledger. Wake Forest will be at home in five of its next six games beginning against William & Mary on Friday.
The Demon Deacons won the only other meeting between these squads with an 81-66 victory during the 1998-99 season.
Mercer couldn't get it going on offense in its loss to Illinois-Chicago. The Bears finished with only 14 total field goals in the contest and were outscored 24-6 from 3-point range. The Bears also turned the ball over 17 times and had just 27 rebounds in the losing effort. Darious Moten was the lead scorer with just eight points.
Thanks to early wins against NAIA opponents Oglethorpe (70-25) and Sewanee (65-36) Mercer is allowing only 43.8 points per game this season. Still the Bears have played well defensively against Division I competition, surrendering 57.0 points per game in its other two games. Keeping up that type of defensive pressure is imperative for Mercer as the Bears are scoring just 55.0 points a game including 42.5 against Division I foes. Travis Smith (12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg) is the only player on the team scoring more than 5.2 points per game. Bud Thomas (5.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg) leads the Bears' effort on the glass.
Wake Forest dug itself into a deep hole against Iona in its most recent matchup connecting on only 7-of-25 shots in the first half to fall behind by a massive 54-24 margin at the half. Even though the Demon Deacons outscored the Gaels 44-40 in the second half it was nowhere near enough. Wake Forest turned the ball over 19 times and was outscored 42-15 from beyond the arc. Travis McKie was the lead scorer in the game with 13 points, while tying for a team- high with seven rebounds.
C.J Harris finished with only 10 points against Iona but is still the Demon Deacon's best scoring option this season (15.3 ppg). However, he has struggled with ball security though with a team-high 12 turnovers. McKie (13.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg) can play both on the inside and from the perimeter as he has knocked down 2-of-8 shots from beyond the arc. Codi Miller-McIntyre (11.7 ppg) and Chase Fischer are the more reliable shooters from beyond the arc with the pair combining for seven of the team's 15 total triples this season. Devin Thomas (8.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg) plays a more traditional game in the low post to complement McKie.
Although Mercer has shown some strength on defense it has yet to prove it can score enough to keep up with teams at the Division I level this season. Wake Forest meanwhile could benefit from a tussle with a team that won't run up the score.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wake Forest 78, Mercer 53
11/19 10:42:53 ET