JBU to take first step to Nationals

John Brown Men’s basketball will face off against Lubbock Christian at 6:15 p.m. in Bill George Arena in the first round of the 2012 Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament.

The Golden Eagles, despite a loss in their regular season finale at Southern Nazarene, jumped two spots in the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics rankings to13 in this week’s poll.

That ties an all-time high previously reached earlier this season.

The Eagles will look to solidify a spot in the national tournament with a successful showing in the tournament.

“Depending on how the conference tournament goes, I think we are in a pretty good position for an at-large berth,” said men’s head coach Chuck Sheehy.

In the first round the Golden Eagles (23-7) will play a Lubbock Christian (15-14) team that they defeated both times they met this season.

Along with an 81-65 blowout at home on Dec. 1, the Eagles won a close 83-80 contest Jan. 21, in Lubbock when a Chaparral three-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.

The Chaparrals have been only 6-5 since that game but have also won three of their last five. In that stretch they have been riding the hot perimeter shooting of guard Tyler Kennedy and the offensive production of All-SAC first team guard Rashad Sample.

“Anytime you can come in with a little bit of momentum, that breeds confidence,” said Sheehy. “I would expect them to come in and play with a lot of confidence.”

However, JBU comes in with their own hot streak, having won eight of their last 10 games since last playing Lubbock.

“I feel like we’re playing better,” said Sheehy, “We should be coming in with momentum, too.”

Having the tournament at home for the first time means that this year’s tournament will be a new experience for the JBU players. Sheehy isn’t buying that the home court advantage will have a huge impact on the play of the team.

“It is exciting that we get to host it, but … it comes down to how we play,” said Sheehy.

However, the tournament has a tendency to be unpredictable, and there’s no such thing as a sure thing, Sheehy said.

“When you get to this time of year, and you get a lot of teams that if they lose, they’re done, then you get some great games,” said Sheehy, “I think this year anybody can beat anybody.”