Bears beat Tennessee in first round, lose to BYU in second
March Madness is in full swing and the Mercer men’s basketball team has made a push to make themselves known in the midst of it all. After failing to secure a conference championship and an NCAA tournament bid, the team received a bid to the National Invitational Tournament.
The Bears shocked many as they took down the No. 2 seed and SEC member Tennessee in the first round.
“This was our ninth road win this year,” Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. “Last year, we had 12 road wins. It’s not a mistake; it’s not just something crazy that happened tonight. These guys have been road warriors and done it at a high level. These guys were special tonight.”
Senior Travis Smith had a career night, something that has been a common occurrence this year, as he led four Mercer players in double-figure scoring with a career high 25 points. Junior Langston Hall netted 16 points to go along with seven assists, while junior Daniel Coursey scored 15 points on perfect seven-of-seven shooting. Junior Jakob Gollon rounded out the collection with 12 points, 10 of which came in the second half.
The Bears’ win was their third road triumph against a power conference team this season and pushed the team’s postseason winning streak to six. Hoffman also moved one win closer to a pair of career milestones, as he now holds 99 wins with Mercer and 499 overall collegiate coaching wins.
After the win at the University of Tennessee, the Bears traveled to Provo, Utah to take on Brigham Young University. Mercer would fall to the No. 3 seeded BYU 90-71.
Senior Travis Smith led the Bears with 19 points in the loss while juniors Langston Hall and Daniel Coursey added 15 and 12, respectively. “It was a shootout, and we didn’t make enough shots,” Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. “BYU was unbelievable tonight. It is hard to come back when BYU was hitting 35, 40 footers. We didn’t play as well as we would have liked to, but BYU was every part of that.”
The 2012-13 edition of the Bears says goodbye to Travis Smith and Chris Smith, two seniors who have been integral parts of the basketball program.