FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas men’s basketball team (5-4) returns to North Little Rock Saturday evening as Mercer University (8-2) comes to town for a 7 p.m. tip-off inside Verizon Arena.
Tip-off: Saturday, 7 p.m. CT
Location: Verizon Arena, North Little Rock
Tickets: Buy Here
• Mercer, from Macon, Georgia, plays in the Southern Conference (SoCon) and is 8-2 on the season. Before a 78-71 loss at Auburn on Tuesday night, the Bears were riding a five-game win-streak that included three victories at the Challenge in Music City. Two of the wins in Nashville came by one point and three points, against Appalachian State and Western Michigan, respectively. Through 10 games this season, Mercer is 5-0 at home and 3-0 at neutral sites, but 0-2 in road games.
• The Bears are a well-rounded team with eight players averaging at least 15 minutes and no individual averaging more than 12 points. Three players, however, reach double figures: Jesting Lewis (11.8), Stephon Jells (11.2) and Phillip Leonard (10.4). Jelks produces at an all-around consistency, also leading the team with 8.1 rebounds per game, as well as adding 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals and one three-pointer per game. Although Mercer loses the turnover battle 12-9.8, the Bears hold a field goal shooting edge of 46.6-37.1 percent on average.
• Head coach Bob Hoffman is in his eighth season with Mercer, with a record of 153-100 (.605) in seven-plus seasons. During his tenure with the Bears, Hoffman boasts 14 postseason wins and nine victories against Power Five opponents. Of course, the most notable of those was a 78-71 win in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament against No. 2 seed Duke. Meanwhile, eight of the Power Five wins have been on the road and five victories have been against SEC schools. Hoffman’s teams have accumulated a 71-43 conference record between the SoCon and Atlantic Sun.
• Dusty Hannahs, Anthlon Bell and Moses Kingsley is the only trio in the country to score double figures in all nine games this season.
• Arkansas is 4-0 all-time against Mercer, defeating the Bears twice during the 1999-00 season and in 1981 and 1983. The Razorbacks are 14-3 all-time against current Southern Conference opponents, including most recently a victory over Wofford in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
• The Razorbacks are 3-1 at Verizon Arena under head coach Mike Anderson, including three straight victories in the capital city. Last year featured an 84-67 victory over Southeast Missouri State.
• Jabril Durham is one of three players in the country with four double-digit assist games this season. He has four of the seven double-digit assist performances in the SEC this year and ranks No. 2 in the nation with 8.1 assists per game.
• Arkansas’ last three opponents have entered the game with a combined record of 22-5 (Mercer: 8-2, Tennessee Tech: 7-2, Evansville: 7-1).
• Anthlon Bell (29) and Dusty Hannahs (26) are the No. 1 three-point shooting tandem in the SEC, combining to make 55 treys through nine games.
• Arkansas and Michigan State are the only Power Five team to have multiple players with 25-plus made treys this season.
Arkansas returns to Bud Walton Arena for one more game before the holiday break, hosting the University of North Florida on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
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