LAKELAND, FL - Florida Southern College men's basketball will tip off the 2018-19 campaign with a pair of home contests in the annual GSC-SSC Challenge this weekend at Streamline Sale Arena at Jenkins Field House. The No. 22 Moccasins, who were picked to win the Sunshine State Conference in the annual SSC Preseason Coaches Poll, will take on Gulf South Conference foes West Alabama (Nov. 9) and Delta State (Nov. 10) on opening weekend.
Florida Southern returns all five starters from a team that went 21-11 a year ago and stunned many preseason pundits by earning an at-large bid to the NCAA South Regional and knocking off No. 1 seeded Morehouse in the first round. In their fourth season under head coach Mike Donnelly, the Moccasins will rely heavily on a potential all-America backcourt duo (Brett Hanson and Jonathan Lawton) as well as a mix of experienced returners and talented newcomers as they look to advance to the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season.
DATE: Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 | 3 p.m. ET
LOCATION: Streamline Sale Arena at Jenkins Field House (Lakeland, FL)
LIVE VIDEO: SunshineStateConference.TV (free)
LIVE STATS: MocsLive.com
SERIES RECORD VS. WEST ALABAMA: Florida Southern trails, 2-3
SERIES RECORD VS. DELTA STATE: Florida Southern leads, 5-3
NEXT UP: Nov. 17 at Southern New Hampshire
• Florida Southern enters the 2018-19 season with all five starters back from last year's squad that finished 21-11 and knocked off top-seeded Morehouse in the first round of the
NCAA Division II South Regional.
• It is the first time in Mike Donnelly's 15 seasons as a collegiate head coach that he returns his starting five from the previous year. The Moccasins will be led by the all-conference backcourt of Jonathan Lawton (22.2 ppg) and Brett Hanson (18.0). In all, the Mocs return nearly 82 percent of their scoring from a year ago.
• Florida Southern was picked to win the Sunshine State Conference after receiving six first-place votes in last week's SSC Preseason Coaches Poll. The Moccasins were picked ninth last season but ended up finishing third in the SSC after surpassing all preseason expectations.
• The Moccasins are ranked No. 22 in the NABC Preseason Coaches Poll. Florida Southern is the only team from the Sunshine State Conference to earn a place in the preseason top 25. This year marks the 11th time that Florida Southern has been ranked in the NABC Preseason Coaches Poll and the first time since it won a national title in 2014-15. The Mocs are also ranked in the D2SIDA Poll (No. 23). The Florida Southern Athletic Communications office will use the NABC poll for official rankings, but the Mocs are the only SSC team to be featured in both preseason polls.