When you annually sneak up on big-time teams and upset them, the surprise factor starts to wear away. Such was the case when the upset-prone Mercer Bears took on ACC power Florida State on Saturday, and the Seminoles cruised to an easy 89-50 victory.
The game wasn’t a testament to how strong a team Mercer actually is in the Atlantic Sun, but rather a statement of how tall and good this Florida State team really is.
The Bears (3-2), started the season with a 2-1 road trip in Rhode Island, narrowly losing to Providence before an early home tune-up against Fisk University.
The Seminoles, however, might just have been the best team to pass through Macon, Ga., in the last decade. Florida State (3-0) now holds a perfect record against Atlantic Sun opponents in 2009, defeating Stetson, Jacksonville, and Mercer within the past week.
Mercer’s homecoming started promisingly with a James Florence three-pointer to start the game, but FSU’s defense quickly clamped down on the perimeter shooting and went to work inside offensively.
The Bears held the lead twice early on, but the Seminoles quickly built a 40-18 lead at the half to leave the sold-out University Center crowd stunned. Statistics told the story well. Mercer was held to 13.5 percent (5-for-37) from the floor in the first 20 minutes of play while Florida State hit 58.3 percent (14-for-24).
The Seminoles would amass 13 blocks, including five from 7’1” center Solomon Alabi, to set a new University Center record.
After the game, Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman told MercerBears.com, “We didn’t execute well, and they had a lot to do with that. FSU is a very talented team. Coach Hamilton has done a good job in putting the pieces together.”
A lopsided first half gave way to an even more lopsided second, as the Seminoles would shoot an astounding 60 percent from the floor in the final stanza. For the afternoon, five players would finish in double figures for the visiting ACC team, led by Deividas Dulkys’ 14 points.
Jordan DeMercy, Xavier Gibson, and Solomon Alabi would all finish with 12 points, while teammate Derwin Kitchen would throw in 10 more.
Mercer guard James Florence would lead the Bears in scoring with only 14 points in 30 minutes. The Bears’ starting five would only manage to score 28 of the 50 points on the scoreboard.
For most in the sold-out crowd of 3,200-plus, the lopsided game was a bit of a disappointment, particularly after upsets of Auburn and Alabama a year ago and a narrow overtime loss to Georgia Tech in last year’s homecoming game.
But with lower expectations against major opponents they will face this season, Mercer still has a chance to upset several large schools with upcoming contests against Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, and Alabama.
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