JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Lipscomb men’s basketball team heads to the “River City” of Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday night for a 6 p.m. ASUN conference meeting with North Florida at UNF Arena.
The meeting will be the 26th meeting all-time in the series with the Ospreys owning a 15-10 advantage thanks to a 7-1 mark over the last eight games.
The contest will air on ESPN3 with Richard Miller and Lee Moon Jr. on the call.
- Junior guard Garrison Mathews enters Thursday night’s game as the leading scorer in the ASUN averaging 22.8 points per game. Mathews opened league action last Saturday with a 43-point, 13-rebound effort against Kennesaw State that broke his own NCAA era record for points in a game The 43-point effort ranks tied for the second most in a game this season. Mathews ranks 11th nationally in scoring and sixth among juniors.
- Mathews picked up a trio of weekly awards for his efforts against Kennesaw and Fisk last week. He was named the Lou Henson Award National Midmajor Player of the Week, the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Player of the Week and the ASUN Player of the Week. The league award was the fourth this season for the Franklin, Tennessee native and fifth of his career tying former Lipscomb great Adnan Hodzic for the most in school history.
- The Bisons open ASUN play with three consecutive road games at Kennesaw State, North Florida and Jacksonville. Lipscomb will have played 12-of-16 contests away from Allen Arena when the team returns to the Music City on Jan. 18 to host FGCU.
- The 11-5 start to the season for the Bisons is the best in the NCAA era for the team topping the previous best of 8-4 set in 2006-07. The mark is the best since 1999-00 when Lipscomb opened the season 16-0 en route to a 34-4 record and an appearance in the NAIA. The team’s 5-2 record in December was also an NCAA era best for the Purple and Gold.
- With 16 games in the books, the Bisons are ranked 41st in RPI, just a few slots lower than the highest in school history at 23. The next closest team in the ASUN is North Florida at 170. Lipscomb’s number is bolstered by a strong strength of schedule that is rated 41st toughest in the nation.
- The Bisons effort on the defensive end of the floor has been a large part of the fast start to the season. Lipscomb ranks in the top-45 nationally in both 3-point FG defense (18th - .299) and turnovers forced (44th - 16.00 per game). Lipscomb is holding opponents to 73.6 ppg the lowest since 2007-08 when opponents were held to 70.2 ppg.
- Eli Pepper grabbed his 500th career rebound earlier in the season at Alabama. He is only the fourth player (Adnan Hodzic, Brandon Brown, Josh Slater, Malcolm Smith) in school history to have reached the plateau in the NCAA era. Pepper recently surpassed Slater and enters Thursday night’s contest just two behind Brown for second on the list behind Hodzic.
- Lipscomb was predicted to post a second-place finish in the 2017-18 ASUN Conference race by a vote of the league’s skippers and the league’s media members.
- Mathews and Rob Marberry were both unanimous selections to the preseason All-ASUN team. The duo was also named All-ASUN by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.
- Mathews was also named to the 2017-18 Lou Henson Award Watch List becoming the second Lipscomb player to receive the honor. The award is handed out annually to the nation’s top mid-major player. The Franklin native was also named an honorable mention mid-major All-American by NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk.