Saturday was an aberration.
Florida State’s 89-50 win over Mercer at the University Center showed the Seminoles have a potentially strong ACC team and that it’s hard to overcome a four- and five-inch size disadvantage against a major-conference team.
But it doesn’t say anything about how the Bears will perform when A-Sun play begins Dec. 3. And it really doesn’t say much about the Bears’ ability to hang with the big boys of college basketball.
We know this because Mercer has shown repeatedly that it can stay competitive — home or away a— gainst major-conference foes.
That was apparent in a win over Southern California in 2007 and in wins over Alabama and Auburn and an overtime loss to Georgia Tech in 2008. Mercer started off this season with a two-point loss Nov. 15 at Providence, and the Bears still have chances against Vanderbilt, Charlotte, Alabama and Georgia Tech before the new year.
Mercer certainly isn’t as bad as it looked against Florida State at the University Center.
The Bears had a bad case of being too short Saturday. With no player taller than 6-foot-8 on a good day, Mercer struggled with Florida State’s three players taller than 6-9.
The Seminoles had six blocked shots in the first four minutes of the game and probably just as many altered shots. They finished with a University Center record 13 blocks.
The Seminoles’ size forced the Bears to play their game on the perimeter, and they couldn’t get many shots to drop from there. Mercer shot 14 percent from the floor in the first half, taking more than half of its 37 shots from 3-point territory. The Bears made their first 2-point basket 22:30 minutes into the game. They were outscored 42-14 in the paint.
It was also the fewest points scored by Mercer since the University Center has been open.
But despite the rough night, there was a great atmosphere in the University Center — and in home games against Alabama and Georgia Tech the past two seasons. It’s a setting that should be replicated at every home this season.
This Mercer team — just like last year — is loads of fun to watch.
The Bears will be undersized many nights, but that doesn’t stop them for scrapping for every rebound and every loose ball. They play fast-paced, and they shoot well, despite the 14-for-71 night shooting from the floor against the Seminoles.
When A-Sun play begins, the Bears won’t have many nights like the one they had Saturday. That starts Dec. 3 against Lipscomb and two days later against Belmont. Both are tremendously important games against probable contenders for the A-Sun championship. Hopefully, the same energy that rolled through the University Center on Saturday will be back for those games.
Yes, Saturday was a rough homecoming for Mercer. But don’t expect many nights like that the rest of the season.
Contact Jonathan Heeter at 744-4401 or email@example.com