Mercer basketball preps for SoCon play

The Bears huddle up after one last practice before their non-conference finale against Kennesaw State/(Cam Gaskins, WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- The Mercer men's basketball team is gearing up for it's last non-conference game of the season against Kennesaw State tomorrow. Then on Sunday, the Bears welcome East Tennessee State to Hawkins, beginning their Southern Conference schedule.

Head coach Bob Hoffman is hoping the home crowd helps them build some momentum in both games to take into conference play.

"It'll be a great beginning," Hoffman said. "We're hoping to have this place (Hawkins arena) sold out out the next two nights... it should be a lot of fun."

Mercer has lost to ETSU each of the last three seasons, meaning that none of the current players on the roster have ever beaten the Buccaneers.

Senior forward Stephon Jelks has a long memory when it comes to those games.

"We haven't beaten them since we've been here," Jelks said. "All of them have been close games, but we definitely have a chip on our shoulder this year."

ETSU is also the reigning SoCon champ, having won the regular-season and tournament championships last season. Mercer has yet to win a SoCon title since it joined the conference in 2014.

Mercer enters tomorrow's game against KSU right at the .500-mark, with a 6-6 record. The Bears have lost one-possession games to Memphis (in double-overtime), and Alabama this year.

Tip-off for tomorrow's KSU game is at 7:00 p.m. at Hawkins arena, and Sunday's game against ETSU will tip off at 2:00 p.m.

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