|Hatters Focused on Own Agenda vs. Mercer|
As the Stetson basketball team enters into the second half of the Atlantic Sun Conference season, first year coach Casey Alexander has turned his attention to the basics.
The Hatters (7-13, 4-5 in A-Sun play) host league leading Mercer (15-7, 7-2) on Saturday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. at the Edmunds Center. The game will follow the Stetson-Mercer women’s game, which is set for a 1 p.m. start.
Stetson is coming off its worst offensive performance of the years in a 74-45 loss at Savannah State on Monday night. Included in that performance was a 13-point first half, which tied for the lowest scoring half of play for any Stetson team in more than a half century.
Alexander said the team has to move on from that game, and the best way to do that is to focus inwardly.
“I think you have to get back to basics and totally focus on the big picture and what we want this program to look like,” Alexander said. “That has been our intention over the last couple of days in practice and that is what we will go into the game with.”
Prior to the Savannah State game, it had been defense that was hurting the Hatters in three consecutive losses. Stetson was allowing more than 93 points per game while scoring more than 86. That all changed in Savannah when the Hatters shot just 33.3 percent from the field and made just one three point basket.
Unfortunately for the Hatters, Mercer is not the team to face when battling inner demons. The Bears have surged into a first place tie with Belmont in the league race and have won seven of their last eight games.
Mercer is winning with defense, holding opponents to just 58 points per game in their last seven wins. In fact, the Bears have allowed more than 70 points in a game just once in their last 10 outings, that being a 76-61 loss at ETSU.
“We totally need to recognize the quality of their team, how well they are playing and what a challenge this will be for our team,” Alexander said. “But, in the bigger picture, this game needs to be more about us, rather than where someone is in the standings.”
The Hatters fell by 16 points, 75-59, to Mercer earlier this year in Macon. The Bears used a 17-6 run late in the first half and early in the second to turn around a two point Stetson lead. The Hatters shot just 37.5 percent from the floor in the game, tied for the fourth lowest in a game this year.
“We weren’t ready to play that game,” Alexander said. “We weren’t sound on either end of the floor, and that is their strength. They are really good at doing what they are supposed to do and you have to match that. We didn’t do that the first time.”
Despite facing a front line for Mercer that goes 6-10, 6-8 and 6-6, Stetson center Adam Pegg held his own in the paint during the first meeting. The junior from Clearwater scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor.
Following Saturday afternoon’s game, the Hatters will be back in action at the Edmunds Center on Monday night when they host Kennesaw State. The Owls are still winless in league play (0-9) entering play on Saturday at Florida Gulf Coast. Tipoff on Monday night is scheduled for 7 p.m.