Jacksonville State plays host to UNA on Friday night in the ASUN Conference men’s basketball opener for both teams.

It will be the 94th meeting between the programs and one of the final times they meet as conference foes. Most of the games have been when both played in Division II. The teams have played just five times since UNA joined Jacksonville State in Division I. They will play as conference foes one more scheduled time – on February 24 at UNA – before Jacksonville State leaves for Conference USA.

However, once the basketball tips off on Friday night at 6:30 at Pete Mathews Coliseum, it’s not about the past or the future. It’s about getting a good start in conference play.

Jacksonville State, the defending ASUN regular-season champion, comes in with winning the last three and five out of the last seven. The only setbacks during that time were road games at Utah (99-58) and South Alabama (71-66).

The Gamecocks (7-6) are led by guards Demaree King and Skyelar Potter. The 6-foot King averages 16 points a game with 41 3-pointers on the season. Potter, a 6-foot-3 senior, averages 15.1 points per game with 36 3-pointers. Juwan Perdue, a 6-foot-6 senior, averages 8.5 points and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds per game.

UNA comes into the game with an 8-5 record. The Lions won four of their past five games, including a 66-65 win at Ole Miss on December 20. The Lions are 3-5 away from home.

Daniel Ortiz, a 6-foot sophomore, leads a balanced offense with 13.2 points per game with 37 3-pointers. K.J. Johnson, a 6-foot-3 junior, averages 10.8 points per game and has 41 assists with 15 turnovers. Damian Forrest, a 6-foot-9 junior, averages 9.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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