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PREVIEW: Rival Mocs Visit Winter Park Wednesday Night

Parker Davis
Parker Davis


Rollins (14-9, 10-5 SSC) vs. Florida Southern (14-9, 8-7 SSC)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.

Winter Park, Florida – Warden Arena

VIDEO: SSC Digital Network–
AUDIO: Tars Sports Network–

Despite two-straight losses, Rollins is still in the Sunshine State Conference driver's seat atop the standings and welcomes rival Florida Southern to Warden Arena Wednesday night. The Tars are tied with Eckerd for first place in the SSC with Barry a half game back. Rollins is home for three of its last five games this year where they have won 11 in a row dating back to November. This game is an encore of the epic, 117-111 double overtime Tars win in Lakeland earlier this year. FSC is part of a three-way tie for fifth place in the SSC standings and are coming off upsets over SSC frontrunners Barry and Eckerd last week. Rollins is looking for a third-straight season sweep over the Mocs.

Rollins emerged from a tough week still leading the conference having lost a pair on the road to Embry-Riddle (98-89) and Tampa (87-82). The Tars trailed big late in both games, but made furious comebacks only to run out of time. Jeff Merton tallied 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Tars against UT. Connor Mckim added 17 points and Jack Fleming scored 13. Deion Clark added 12 points and nine rebounds. Sam Philpott leads the Rollins offense on the season, averaging 19.3 points a game. He is shooting 59 percent from the field, leading the SSC and ranking 26th in the nation. Merton is scoring 15.9 a game to go along with 4.7 rebounds a night. He leads the Tars with 48 three-pointers on the year. McKim and Clark are both scoring 11.5 a game while Eric Castaneda nets 11.4 a game. Rollins is fifth in the conference in offense at 84.3 points a game while allowing 81.5 a night.

Florida Southern played its fifth and sixth overtime games of the season last week – beating both Eckerd and Barry in Lakeland. They got by EC 100-96 and upset then 25th-ranked Barry 109-100. Jonathan Lawton tallied 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Mocs en route to SSC Player of the Week honors.  Brett Hanson added 14 points while Slinky Jones earned SSC Defensive Player of the Week honors with a 16 points, seven rebounds, four blocks performance. Lawton is third in the SSC in scoring with 21.2 points a game. He ranks third in the nation in free throws made (154) and sixth in attempts (183). Hanson is putting up 17.8 points and seven rebounds a game while Ben Marcello is averaging 10.2 points a game. The Mocs are third in the league in offense with 88.9 points a game while ranking next to last in defense, allowing 85.0 a game.


  • Earlier this season on Jan. 13, Rollins defeated Florida Southern in a double-overtime thriller by a score of 117-111 in Lakeland.
  • Last season, Rollins swept the season series against Florida Southern, winning by an average of 8.5 points per game. The Tars eclipsed the 100-point mark in the first game, as they won by a score of 102-91 in Winter Park on Nov. 21. Later in the season on Jan. 25, Rollins won 94-88 in Lakeland.
  • The Tars have beat the Mocs in each of the four straight matchups.
  • Florida Southern last beat Rollins during the 2014-15 season when the Mocs swept the season series. In February of that season, Florida Southern won in Winter Park by a score of 82-67 in the season finale, after winning the month before in Lakeland by a score of 74-70.
  • It's been a tale of two teams thus far this year. At Warden Arena, Rollins has been fantastic, earning a record of 11-2, which includes 11 consecutive victories. Away from home, however, Rollins is 3-7 (3-4 in true away games and 0-2 in neutral site games).
  • In his 38th year as the Tars head coach, Tom Klusman is 691-402 (.632), which makes him one of just 16 Division II coaches with 600 or more wins.
  • Jeff Merton is ranked ninth in program history for career points scored with 1,602 points. He trails eighth ranked Derek Thurston (1,627 pts) by 25 points.
  • Merton is ranked fifth in program history for three-pointers made (224). He trails fourth ranked Scott Martin (236) by 12 long range makes.
  • Sam Philpott ranks 18th in program history for career points scored with 1,415 points. He trails 17th ranked Eric Faber (1,466 pts) by 41 points.
  • Philpott is ranked fourth in program history for FG percentage (58.0%).
  • Philpott has made 171 field goals this season, which is the 18th most in the country.
  • The Tars average 17.9 assists per game, which is the 17th most in all of men's Division II. Also, Rollins has the 10th most assists in the country with 412 through 23 games.
  • With a ratio of 1.44, Rollins has the 18th best assist-to-turnover ratio among all men's teams in Division II.
  • Between wins and losses, a major variance can be found under rebounds per game, especially defensive boards. In wins, Rollins grabs 35.7 rebounds per game, including 26.6 on the defensive side, while in losses, the Tars grab a mere 27.0 boards per game, including 18.0 on the defensive side of things.

Rollins is back at home on Saturday, February 10 hosting Palm Beach Atlantic in SSC action. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. in Warden Arena. All games can be found on the SSC Digital Network at and the Tars Sports Network at