Bob Hoffman’s Mercer Bears split a pair of games on their road trip to Missouri and Furman last week.
But the Bears may have gained something even more important out of the trip than one victory.
Mercer lost by 18 (81-63) to Missouri but put up a fight in the second half after falling behind by 16 at the half. The Bears then dominated Furman in a 66-46 decision.
“There is no doubt that we got tougher and learned how to compete harder,” Hoffman said. “That first half against Missouri, they wore us out. But after that, we bowed up and competed at a higher level. That continued against Furman, and I was really proud of how the guys competed.”
Hoffman has to hope that continues for the Bears this week in the CBE Classic. Mercer hosts Sam Houston State on Monday, Niagara on Tuesday and South Dakota State on Wednesday. All three games tip off at 7 p.m.
The other three teams will face off in games at 4:30 p.m. each day.
Mercer is 2-1, while Sam Houston State and Niagara are 1-1, and their most recent games were losses to Notre Dame and Missouri, respectively. South Dakota State is 1-2, and its most recent game was a loss to Georgia.
“It’s going to be a really good thing for our area,” Hoffman said. “All four teams are pretty equal. They have different strengths, but they play at about the same level. For Middle Georgia fans to be able to go to back-to-back games each day, if you’re a basketball junkie, I don’t know how you can’t be excited about that.”