Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JU Begins TAAC Tourney Play Tonight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JU Begins TAAC Tourney Play Tonight

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- After four consecutive losing seasons and back-to-back finishes near the bottom of the conference, Jacksonville University wasn't expected to do much this season.

The Dolphins were picked to finish seventh in the Trans America Athletic Conference's preseason coaches' poll and ninth by the media.

JU exceeded expectations by ending the regular season in a three-way tie for third place in the TAAC. The team also won its first seven games and finished with 18 victories -- its most since going 18-9 in 1995-96.

But the Dolphins aren't satisfied. They want to capture their first conference championship since 1986 and make their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 15 years.

"We accomplished some goals. Obviously, we wanted to win some more," JU senior center Kris Hunter said. "We want to continue on, carry it on to the tournament."

With a first-round bye, fourth-seeded Jacksonville University (18-9, 11-7) plays No. 5 seed Samford, the defending champion, tonight in the second round of the TAAC tournament at the Georgia State Sports Arena. Each team handed the other its worst loss of the season during the two regular-season meetings. In January, Samford routed Jacksonville 70-51. The Dolphins retaliated with a 74-51 victory three weeks ago.

The key to JU's last win against Samford (14-13, 11-7), as with most of the Dolphins' victories, was defense. Jacksonville is 16-0 when holding teams under 70 points and 11-0 when opponents shoot under 40 percent.

Dolphins' opponents have shot 40.9 percent from the field, the lowest in program history.

"It's hard to look at the numbers," Jacksonville University coach Hugh Durham said. "I think once you get into tournament play, it's emotion. It's focus. It's commitment. It's the players. And I think that's more important than any statistic we might bring up."

If the Dolphins beat Samford, JU would likely face No. …

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