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Lipscomb (13-18 (8-10ASun))
Mercer University (22-10 (13-5ASun))
2/29/2012 | Macon, Ga. - University Center | Attendance: 2621
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
If Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson is looking for a way to entertain his players on the way to Macon, Ga., he might want to screen the movie “Hoosiers”.
The fictional Hickory High team, undersized and outmanned, won the Indiana State Championship in 1954. But it was more than movie magic. The Hickory team stood in for Milan High School which actually did win that championship in 1954, sparking the production of the movie.
The Bison can certainly use the motivation. They enter the eight-team General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Tournament at the University Center on the campus of Mercer University as a No. 7 seed with an 8-10 conference record, 13-17 overall. Wednesday night at 7:30 central time they will face No. 2-seeded Mercer, the tournament host with a 13-5 A-Sun record, 21-01 overall.
“We have had to shuffle some guys around,” Sanderson said. “Different guys have had to play different roles the last several games. Hopefully, we can maximize our ability.
“We are going to have to manage how we play both offensively and defensively. We have to manage playing time. How you play defensively is very, very important.”
It is the lowest seed ever for the Bison in the A-Sun Tournament. They have been the No. 1 seed twice (2006, 2010), No. 4 three times (2007, 2009, 2011) and No. 5 twice (2005, 2008).
“Tournament play is a lot different,” Sanderson said. “We go into this tournament a lot different than we have the last couple of years. It has a little bit of a different feel.”
Sanderson isn’t dwelling on history. He is only looking ahead.
“We have to play as one unit on both ends of the floor,” Sanderson said. “That is very, very important.
“We have to play smart. We have to play hard. We have to play together. And playing together is the most important thing.”
This will be the second time the Bison have played Mercer in the past seven days. On Feb. 23 the Bison lost 63-54 to the Bears. It was the fourth loss in a row at the University Center for the Bison.
“We have good feel for what they want to do,” Sanderson said. “Both of us will be making adjustments.
“With six minutes to go it was a one-point game. We lost opportunities to go ahead. We were terrible at the free throw line.”
This is the fourth time the Bison have opened the tournament against Mercer. The Bison have not won a tournament game since 2009. A No. 7-seed has not won its first round game since 2003 when Georgia State beat Belmont.
“If you get beat, you go to the house,” Sanderson said. “We are just trying to improve as a unit.
“We have to eliminate some of the droughts we have had. We will have four-or-five minute droughts where we don’t play particularly well sometimes. We have to try to be more consistent throughout the 40-minute period.”
Freshman forward Martin Smith has started the last nine games and is averaging 28.7 minutes of playing time in the last 13 games. During that span he is averaging 10 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Malcolm Smith is averaging 9.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, earning him a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshman Team.
But Sanderson is not looking for just one player to step up.
“It is about everybody,” Sanderson said. “They need to rally around each other. They need to step up things to another level on both ends of the floor.”
The Bison closed out the regular season on the road with a 74-71 win at Kennesaw State. The Bison are 5-4 in A-Sun road games this season.
“I was proud of our guys,” Sanderson said. “That is a confidence booster.
“We have lost a few games close down the wire at the buzzer. We were up one with about a minute to go and Malcolm hit two big free throws for us. You can’t simulate that kind of stuff in practice. Winning a close game on the road was very good for us.”