Mercer (5-3) at Oklahoma (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 2, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lloyd Noble Center (7,200) -- Norman, Oklahoma. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Mercer 4-0, Oklahoma 3-0. Away Record: Mercer 1-3, Oklahoma 0-0. Neutral Record: Mercer 0-0, Oklahoma 2-1. Conference Record: Mercer 0-0, Oklahoma 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Mercer Bears put the wraps on an exhausting three-game road trip when they visit the Oklahoma Sooners in non-conference action on Monday night.
Mercer is playing its third road game in the last six days, and its last was by far the most taxing as it claimed a 117-108 triple-overtime victory at Valparaiso on Friday. Following this first-ever meeting with Oklahoma, the Bears return home to play two straight and three of their next four. They will open Atlantic Sun Conference play at Jacksonville on Dec. 30.
Oklahoma opened the season at 4-0 before suffering its first and only defeat in an 87-76 decision versus No. 1 Michigan State on Nov. 24. The Sooners bounced back in whipping visiting Arkansas-Little Rock this past Friday, 101-81, to improve to 3-0 at home. OU doesn't appear to have another significant challenge between now and the start of Big 12 Conference play at Texas on Jan. 4, 2014.
With their last outing certainly being their most productive, the Bears are averaging a robust 86.9 ppg thanks to shooting efforts that come in at .481 overall, .376 from beyond the arc, and .741 at the foul line. The team boasts five double-digit scorers, four of them starters, with Langston Hall leading the way with his 16.0 ppg. Hall's shooting prowess could certainly stand improving, as he is hitting just 36.7 percent of his field goal attempts, but he is also instrumental in getting his teammates involved in the action as he hands out 5.6 apg. Daniel Coursey (11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Ike Nwamu (11.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Jakob Gallon (10.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.1 apg) and Bud Thomas (10.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg) have all been productive for a Mercer club that saw several team and individual records fall in the triple-overtime win at Valparaiso. Hall dished out nine assists to become the Bears' all-time assists leader, while Gollon and Thomas set new career scoring marks with 37 and 23 points, respectively.
Oklahoma has also been a potent offensive team in the early going, putting up 87.5 ppg in dropping 47.7 percent of its total shots, which includes a 36.3 percent showing from beyond the arc. The team's defensive effort has given up quite a bit in terms of points (78.8 ppg), but goads the opposition into nearly 15 turnovers per outing. Cameron Clark is averaging 18.8 ppg, and he is one of the top rebounders on the roster with 6.2 rpg. Buddy Hield (16.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Isaiah Cousins (11.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.3 apg) and Ryan Spangler (10.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers, and it was Clark who paced the Sooners in their recent win over UALR, as he drained four 3-pointers en route to 22 points. All five starters finished in double figures, with Spangler logging a double-double consisting of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma wound up making 12 treys, while at the same time taking advantage of 17 turnovers by the Trojans.
Mercer certainly has talent, but the Bears are a weary bunch and they aren't likely to muster up the energy needed to win in Norman tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 82, Mercer 70
12/02 10:32:38 ET