The first time Mercer and Lipscomb met this season, the Allen Arena floor was pretty much a launching pad.
Each team took 55 shots, and of the 110 total shots, 59 were 3-point attempts. Mercers Bud Thomas made nine of those.
Now, the rims at Hawkins Arena will be the target of long-distance shots when Mercer hosts Lipscomb on Friday in A-Sun mens basketball action.
Theres going to be some (shots) raining in, Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. Hopefully theyre all bouncing out for them.
The game was pushed back a day because of weather. The Bears host Northern Kentucky on Sunday, a day later than originally scheduled.
The Bears are going for their 20th win of the season, which would give them three straight such years. Mercer is 19-6 overall and 10-2 in conference play with six games left. The Bears are 66th in the latest NCAA RPI.
Lipscomb is 11-13 and 6-7 and in a logjam behind Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast.
USC Upstate joined Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast on Monday in the A-Sun tournament field, thanks to its 75-63 win over East Tennessee State, the first three games this week for the Spartans and Bucs.
East Tennessee State shook things up in a big way by thumping Florida Gulf Coast 89-81 on Thursday in Johnson City, Tenn., the only mens conference game to remain on schedule with the weather. The Bucs joined the tournament field with the win.
As a result, a Mercer win over Lipscomb puts the Bears in sole possession of first place. The Bisons would like to help out Florida Gulf Coast with an upset, which also improves their own conference position. Theyre in sixth place, a game behind North Florida and a half-game ahead of Stetson.
The top eight teams make the tournament, and the top four host the first round.
Mercer won the first meeting 87-66. Lipscomb went 12-of-34 on 3-pointers to 13-of-25 for Mercer.
We executed good, and we got some good looks and just really moved the ball well against their defense, Hoffman said. We were able to get some shots to go.
Mercer and Lipscomb are 1-2 in the A-Sun in 3-point accuracy, 38.2-35.6 percent. The Bisons are tied with North Florida for second in 3-point accuracy, a hair ahead of East Tennessee State.
Lipscomb is fourth in overall shooting at 43.9 percent.
The Bisons are struggling inside, ranking ninth in rebound margin (minus-4.8 to Mercers league-leading plus-6.6).
Mercers defense will stay close to Martin Smith, J.C. Hampton and Malcolm Smith. Theyre fourth, seventh and 12th in scoring in the A-Sun, averaging between 13.7 and 14.9 points.
Hampton is a top candidate for freshman of the year, standing at sixth in assists, sixth in 3-point percentage, seventh in free-throw accuracy and eighth in assist-turnover ratio.
He might be an all-conference player, too, Hoffman said. Hes really, really good, and (freshman) Josh Williams is great, too.
Khion Sankey, however, leads the A-Sun by making 43.8 percent of his 3s-pointers, with Hampton tied for sixth with Mercers Thomas at 40 percent. Hampton has taken 172 3-pointers.
The Bisons are a respectable 7-8 away from home under first-year head coach Casey Alexander, the longtime assistant at Belmont who led Stetson for two seasons before succeeding Scott Sanderson at Lipscomb.
The Bisons had a four-game winning streak stopped in Saturdays 96-88 loss to ETSU.
They were without Martin Smith and sophomore starter Talbott Denny in the first meeting with Mercer. Denny averages 4.9 points and five rebounds, but is also a 48.1-percent free-throw shooter.
Langston Hall is tied with Florida Gulf Coasts Brett Comer for 10th in the A-Sun with 14 points per game. Hall accounts for at least 26 points a game, based on points and assists (not counting assists that lead to 3-pointers).
The extra day is likely to have minimal impact, other than maybe make the Bears a little itchy.
I think our guys are really ready to play since we havent played since last Friday, Hoffman said of the Bears hard-fought 75-68 win over Kennesaw State. I think theyre really ready to get on the floor and play.