Playing with sole possession of first place in the A-Sun on the line, Mercer came out with a complete 40-minute effort Friday.
The Bears will try to sustain that momentum when upset-minded Northern Kentucky visits Hawkins Arena on Sunday.
The game was pushed back a day because of the mid-week weather problems. The delay only gave Mercer more practice time for this weeks games, and the Bears had Lipscomb pinned by halftime with a 43-16 lead Friday. Mercer kept it going en route to the 79-48 win to take over first, thanks to East Tennessees 89-81 win Thursday over Florida Gulf Coast.
We didnt even talk about it, Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. We just talked about being ready against a really good team that was leading the league in scoring and 3-pointers made.
Mercer is 20-6 overall and 11-2 in conference play, a game ahead of Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles lost on Thursday and needed a strong second half to beat USC Upstate on Saturday to stay within a game.
The Bears head south for the showdown Friday with the Eagles and then visit Stetson on Feb. 23 before returning home to complete the regular season against North Florida on Feb. 27 and Jacksonville on March 1.
Five teams have qualified for the A-Sun tournament so far: Mercer, Florida Gulf Coast, USC Upstate, East Tennessee State and North Florida. Northern Kentucky (8-18, 4-10) is in its second year of reclassification to Division I and is ineligible for NCAA and A-Sun postseason.
The Norse enter Hawkins on a six-game losing streak, having lost nine of their past 10. Five of the losses have been by single digits and three by a basket or less. That includes Friday nights 69-67 loss at Kennesaw State, the Owls clinching the comeback -- they trailed by 13 in the second half -- with a steal in the final seconds.
Northern has a lot of good shooters, probably more than Lipscomb, said Mercer guard Langston Hall, who had 20 points in Fridays win. But theyre not as athletic.
Dean Danos connects on 43.8 percent of his 3-pointers, just ahead of Todd Johnsons 43 percent. Jordan Jackson leads Northern Kentucky with 14 points and 2.8 assists per game while Tyler White adds 10.2 points. Jalen Billups averages a team-high 5.3 rebounds.
They have a lot of players that can get to the basket, Hoffman said. They have several guys that who are spot-up shooters. Youve just got to recognize what their strengths are.
Northern Kentucky is in the middle of the A-Sun stat pack in scoring defense, 3-point shooting and rebounding margin. But the Norse are big on tempo.
They run a lot of motion, but then theyll run some really good sets, Hoffman said. So, as a defense, youve got to be patient. Theyre going to run the shot clock down, and youve got to be solid that whole possession.