JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida basketball team continues its early-season residency in Jacksonville while hosting Mercer on Sunday night.
The Gators, who are playing most of their non-conference games on neutral courts around the state as renovation continues on the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, got off to a strong start in their opener Friday night, rolling to an 80-59 win over Florida Gulf Coast.
They used a 15-0 run in the second half to assert control and let their defense be the catalyst — while forcing 19 turnovers — which is what former coach Mike White hopes to employ all season.
Florida also got a balanced offensive performance, though, as eight different players scored at least 6 points, led by Devin Robinson (14), John Egbunu (13) and Canyon Barry (13).
Florida is 5-7 all-time against Mercer, but the teams have only played twice since 1937.
Florida will play its first non-neutral site game on Dec. 21 against Little Rock in Gainesville.
What time is tipoff?
When: Sunday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Fla.
What TV channel is showing the Florida-Mercer game?
The game will be televised on ESPNU and can be streamed via WatchESPN.
Who is calling the Florida basketball game?
Mike Morgan will handle the play-by-play and Miles Simon will serve as the analyst.
Looking at Mercer
The Bears went 19-15 last season and opened the 2016-17 campaign with an 87-53 win over NAIA foe Brewton-Parker.
They return three starters in 6-foot-6 junior forward Stephon Jelks (11.7 points, 8.4 rebounds per game last season), 6-foot-9 redshirt-junior forward Desmond Ringer (7.8/4.6) and 6-foot-8 junior guard Demetre Rivers (9.7/3.2).
Mercer made a splash in the NCAA tournament under coach Bob Hoffman in 2014 with an upset win over third-seeded Duke in its opening game. However, the Bears lost to Tennessee in the second round. They have not been back to the NCAA tournament since, as they’ve played in the CBI and CIT postseason tournaments the past two seasons.