When Mercer hosted USC Upstate a month ago, the Bears and Spartans engaged in a high-level battle between A-Sun contenders.
Mercer remained on that level, while Upstate hit a slippery spot two days later, losing to Kennesaw State and seemingly headed toward falling out of contention.
The Spartans lost two straight in Florida but are on a three-game winning streak as Mercer visits Sunday in a game pushed back a day by weather.
Mercer is 18-5 overall and 9-1 in A-Sun play, having won eight straight, while Upstate is 12-10 and 5-4.
The Spartans were a half-game behind third-place North Florida entering Saturdays lone night game, the Ospreys hosting tied-for-sixth Lipscomb.
Upstate might be again playing the kind of ball most expected of the team picked in the preseason to finish third, behind Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer.
The Spartans lost 63-60 at Florida Gulf Coast, and that loss lingered as they fell two days later at Stetson, 77-73 in overtime. They havent lost since.
The game features two of the A-Suns top three teams in scoring defense, scoring margin, field goal percentage offense and defense, rebounding margin, assists and assist-turnover ratio.
Preseason player of the year Torrey Craig is second in the A-Sun with 16.5 points, but the Spartans will be without all-conference guard Ty Greene (15.4 points, 3.6 assists) indefinitely. The heady guard suffered a hand injury Thursday in practice and didnt play in the 65-48 win Friday night over Kennesaw State.
The pair accounted for 29 of Upstates points in the 62-60 overtime loss at Mercer, shooting 11-for-28. Upstate pulled the redshirt from 6-5 wing Josh Cuthbertson, who played Friday night.
Craig leads the A-Sun with 7.6 rebounds, and big forward Ricardo Glenn has three straight double-doubles.
Langston Hall leads Mercer with 14.2 points and 5.9 assists a game. Daniel Coursey is fifth the conference with 6.9 rebounds and second, behind Glenn, with a 59.9-percent shooting mark.
Hall is up to 10th on Mercers all-time scoring list and into the A-Suns top 50, with 1,380 points.
The Spartans will no doubt focus on Bud Thomas, who dropped eight 3-pointers in Fridays 90-77 win at East Tennessee State.
Thomas was playing with a mask in the first meeting to protect a broken nose, and he managed just three points in 27 minutes. He shed the mask after going scoreless in the first game against East Tennessee State, and he has scored 116 points since then while going 29-for-59 (49.1 percent) on 3-pointers in that span. In the 13 games before breaking his nose at Jacksonville, Thomas was 20-of-56 on 3-pointers, 35.7 percent.
Mercer returns to the road in five days for a regionally televised game Friday at Kennesaw State.
The Bears arent back home until hosting Lipscomb on Feb. 13.