VMI hoped for a much-needed homecourt advantage with Mercer coming to Lexington, Virginia, and had one for a while.
But Mercer turned an early tie in to a 12-point lead in a little more than six minutes en route to an 81-51 win Thursday over the Keydets in Southern Conference men's basketball. Mercer improves to 12-14 overall and 6-7 in the conference, while VMI falls to 5-17 and 2-9.
The Bears won 68-50 in the first meeting on Jan. 5 in Macon, and now lead the series 7-2. Mercer rebounded from a tough 65-62 home loss to Wofford on Saturday. Cory Kilby hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 to push the margin past 30 points.
Five Bears scored in double figures, led by Ria’n Holland’s 18 points. Guard Jordan Strawberry had 12 points and five assists, passing 300 career assists along the way. Desmond Ringer, Demetre Rivers and Kilby each had 10 points for the Bears, who shot 52.8 percent from the floor and 85 percent from the free-throw line. Ringer had nine rebounds, barely missing a double-double.
Mercer held VMI to 33.3 percent shooting, 24.1 percent on 3-pointers. QJ Peterson led VMI with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Mercer remains on the road, visiting East Tennessee State at 4 p.m. on Saturday and then is off for a week before a game at The Citadel on Feb. 18.