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PREVIEW: Eckerd Visits Rollins for Senior Day

Jeff Merton
Jeff Merton

MATCH-UP:
Rollins (14-12, 10-8 SSC) vs. Eckerd (18-6, 11-6 SSC)

WHEN:
Saturday, February 17, 2018 – 4 p.m.

WHERE:
Winter Park, Fla. – Warden Arena 

COVERAGE:
VIDEO: SSC Digital Network– SunshineStateConference.tv
AUDIO: Tars Sports Network – RollinsSports.com
LIVESTATS: TarsStats.com 

SET-UP:
Rollins welcomes visiting Eckerd on Saturday looking to snap a five-game losing streak and secure a spot in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament. The Tars and Lynn are tied for fifth in the SSC standings and still have an outside shot at the SSC title. Barry is in the driver's seat, a game up on second place Eckerd and Nova Southeastern, while Florida Southern is 1.5 games back. A pair of Tars wins to close the season clinch a spot in the conference tourney and could mean a first-round home game where Rollins is 11-4 on the season. Second-place Eckerd is guaranteed a spot in the postseason and heads into Winter Park 2-3 over its last five. They beat Embry-Riddle on Valentine's Day and after playing Rollins, have games with Saint Leo and Palm Beach Atlantic on their schedule. Tars head coach Tom Klusman continues to chase 700 career victories, currently sitting at 691.  

TRACKING THE TARS:
Back at home where they have played the best basketball of the season, Rollins enters the game seeking a first win in February and momentum heading into the last week of the season. The Tars are coming off a 90-71 loss at Nova Southeastern on Wednesday night. Jeff Merton and Jakobi Bonner both scored 19 points to lead the Tars with Bonner adding five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Leading scorer Sam Philpott (18.7 ppg) remains sidelined with injury, but the Tars line-up is bolstered by four other scorers averaging double figures. Merton is putting up 15.8 points and 4.4 rebounds a game and leads the squad with 12 blocks. He is shooting 46 percent from the field and hit a team-best 58 three-pointers. Eric Castaneda is putting up 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a game while Connor Mckim averages 11.3 points and 3.3 assists a game. Deion Clark averages 11.1 points a night. The Tars are fifth in the conference with 83.8 points a game and seventh in defense, allowing 82.4 a night. 

TRACKING THE TRITONS:  
Eckerd is 2-3 over its last five and like the Tars are still in the hunt for an SSC title. The Tritons are coming off a 90-84 win at Embry-Riddle on Wednesday. Trevon Young led the wire-to-wire win with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Drushaun McLaurn added 21 points and six boards while Keshawn Ingram tallied 11 points. McLaurn is seventh in the SSC and leads Eckerd with 19 points a game. Young puts up 17.1 a game and is third in the SSC with 9.6 rebounds a game. Both players are shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Blake Morrow is scoring 13 points a game and Ingram averages 11.3 points a night. Eckerd boasts the top scoring defense in the league, allowing just 74.8 points a night, while sitting fourth in offense with 84.5 points a game.

NOTES:

  • Rollins is 63-50 all-time against Eckerd dating back to their first meeting in 1963. The Tars own a 33-24 edge in Winter Park.
  • They last met on December 30 in St. Pete with the Tritons coming out on top 95-81. Sam Philpott led the way for the Tars with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Drushaun McLaurn led EC with 23 points while Trevon Young put up 22 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Rollins head coach Tom Klusman is 691-405 in his 38th season. Eckerd leader Tom Ryan is 420-222 in 22 years at the helm of the Tritons.
  • Jeff Merton is eighth on the Tars all-time scoring list with 1654 career points. He ranks 10th on the all-time three-point list with 158, just two back of assistant coach Brad Ash.
  • Sam Philpott ranks 18th on the all-time scoring charge with 1429 career points.

NEXT UP FOR ROLLINS:
The Tars are on the road for their regular season finale, visiting Saint Leo on February 24 for a 7:30 p.m. tip. The 2018 Sunshine State Conference Tournament's opening round is slated for Wednesday, February 28 on campus sites. The semifinals and finals are being hosted by Florida Southern March 3-4 in Lakeland. All games can be found on the SSC Digital Network at SunshineStateConference.tv and the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com.