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December 20, 2008When UCLA (7-2) hits the court tonight at 7:30 PM PST at Pauley Pavilion they will be playing a Mercer Bears (6-4) team that has two impressive road wins against SEC teams, Alabama and Auburn. Mercer will play UCLA and Loyola in a three day span while in Los Angeles.
The Bruins would be wise not to be looking to far ahead. Knowing UCLA coach Ben Howland, he has counseled his team the importance of not taking any team too lightly and will have his team ready for the challenge.
The Bears are led by junior guard James Florence (6-1, 186). He averages 16.9 points per game (ppg), 4.0 assists per game (apg), 3.7 rebounds per game (rpg) and 1.7 steals per game (spg).
Junior big man Daniel Emerson (6-8, 235) gives Mercer solid scoring threat in the paint. He is second on the team in averaging 14.9 ppg. He leads the team in minutes played with an average of 34.5 minutes per game (mpg) and in rebounds averaging 10.2 rpg.
Another scoring threat for the Bears is Calvin Henry (6-7, 201) who is a defensive stopper, too. In ten games, Henry has 27 blocked shots on the season to go with his average of 10.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg. Henry can also step beyond the three-point arc and drain the three. He is hitting on 50 percent of his threes.
Junior guard E.J. Kusnyer (6-5, 232) and junior forward BeJay Corley (6-6, 216) round out the starting five. Kusnyer averages 9.0 ppg and Corley chips in .2.6 ppg.
Off the bench, sophomore forward Brian Mills is averaging 20.3 mpg and that is good for fifth best on the team so he is essentially playing staring minutes. He is averaging 7.3 ppg and 4.6 rpg.
Also getting good minutes off the bench are sophomore guard Mark Hall (5-11, 162) and junior swingman Michael Ellis (6-4, 216). Both players are averaging 5.4 ppg.
Hall played his high school ball at nearby Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola high school.
This will be the second of four games for the Bruins in 11 days getting ready for Pac 10 play.