Mercer (Georgia’s shining light) stuns Duke

Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman and players react to a three-point shot in their second half of the Bears' NCAA tournament upset of Duke. (AP photo)

Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman and players react to a three-point shot in their second half of the Bears’ NCAA tournament upset of Duke. (AP photo)

Playing in a state starved for college basketball excellence, Mercer University did more than just drop the Macon Whoopee down a notch in Macon’s modest sports history Friday. It emerged as the unlikely program to set the standard for other college programs in Georgia.

The 14th seeded Bears, playing in their first NCAA tournament game since 1985, shot nearly 56 percent from the field against Duke’s crumbling defense, went on a late 11-0 run and stunned the No. 3 seeded Blue Devils 78-71 in  a first-round game of the Midwest Regional in Raleigh, N.C.

Yes. That just happened.

It was the first NCAA tournament win in school history.  In Durham, they will be more focused on the fact that this was the second time in three years Duke is one-and-done, having lost to Lehigh in 2011.

Amusingly, the Twitter site for Lehigh athletics sent a Tweet out following the game that read: “Welcome to the club @MercerBears #BeatDuke.”

Mercer reached the tournament by winning the Atlantic Sun tournament championship over Florida Gulf Coast College, which was last year’s NCAA Cinderella. The Bears had never won an NCAA tournament game, losing to Arkansas in 1981 and Georgia Tech in 1985.

The Bears were the only Georgia school to make it into the field. So Georgia, Tech, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Savannah State and Georgia Southern are all now officially looking up to them.

“With these guys? I don’t know who’s beating us,” coach Bob Hoffman said immediately following the game.

Actually, that’s not such a crazy statement. Mercer will play the winner of the Massachusetts-Tennessee game on Sunday. That winner advances to the Sweet 16 against the winner of Michigan-Texas.

I had a chance to watch Mercer a little bit last season when it appeared the school would make the tournament (only to get upset by FGCC in the conference tournament). Hoffman has done an amazing job. He has been at Mercer for six seasons and is 77-31 (41-13 in the Atlantic Sun) over the last three.

Hoffman’s a pretty interesting story. He was a head coach at two small programs, Oklahoma Baptist and Texas Pan-American, then an assistant at Oklahoma under Kelvin Sampson for three years (2004-06). When the Sooners got hit by NCAA probation, Hoffman was out of work for a while, coached a now-defunct ABA team in Arkansas and an NBA D-League team in Hidalgo, Texas, then was hired by Mercer in 2008.

After what he’s accomplished in Macon, it’s safe to say he won’t be out of work for a while.

Hoffman was excited after the game

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Reader Comments 0


Thomas Brown: ". . . Why is Mark Richt # 5 most wins any college FBS 1-A then 2001-2013 ? . . . Why did he beat # 23 Vanderbilt 2013 ? . . . ." 2/6/14

ThomasBrown at 10:01 a.m. Nov. 3, 2013

. . . I now update my prediction for UGA 2013 to 10-3 with the # 1 Strength of Schedule . . .

Missouri, who has not beat anyone, loses to Texas A and M . . .

FSU remains on the outside looking in.

ThomasBrown at 5:35 a.m. Nov. 2, 2013
. . . FSU is so good with # 68 Strength of Schedule that they CANNOT make BCS Title game . . . .

Buzz-Off at 8:44 p.m. Nov. 21, 2013

Fact, Thomas Brown is off his meds. Does anyone even read his manic rants?

WDE at 9:58 a.m. Nov. 21, 2013

Oh ThomasBrown . . . you have always been a buffoon and I fear your best work is yet to come . . . .

TheOldGuy at 11:21 a.m. Nov. 11, 2013
Sounds like ThomasBrown has a little crush on Aaron Murray the was he keeps up with his stats and life.
Guess ThomasBrown would like to be his girlfriend.

THEBuckeye at 1:05 p.m. Nov. 11, 2013

tom brown,


gtcaryd at 7:09 a.m. Nov. 6, 2013
Thomas is calling someone else a bully, thats rich.

Rounder at 8:56 a.m. Nov. 3, 2013

ahhhh Thomas Brown, I see the asylum is missing an inmate this morning.

PaulinNH at 2:45 p.m. Oct. 27, 2013

The problem trying to reason with an insane person (Thomas Brown) is they don't realize they are crazy.

Shall we go on, ThomAss?


DawgNole September 5th, 2012  5:22 pm

“I’m on a Tech blog because I follow Tech and pull for the Jackets in all games except those with UGA and FSU.”

DawgNole January 4th, 2013 6:13 pm

"Half of me pulled for the Dawgs, half for the Noles–depending on the game situation. Mixed feelings, torn, and still don’t know who I’d pull for if they play again."

DawgNole at 8:00 p.m. Dec. 6, 2013

“True that, TB--then and now.”

DawgNole January 5th, 2013 10:38 pm


“You’re the only one who appears to have an issue with that.”


Swamp Thing September 3rd, 2012 4:54 pm

“DawgNole (which end is the Dawg and which end is the Nole?)”


Heaven help us

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

"if mercer did that to duke imagine what we wouldve done to them.  fox is building a program that is poised to take over the rains of power in the sec for the long term NOT just one win in the tournament"

Moistdawg sure loves his Kool-Aid. This is the same guy who predicted last year that the dawg football team would go undefeated and win the national title. How many games did they lose? 4 or 5?


why doesn't uga get players like mercer has?


@FoSho  your not to bright are you?  we played mercer and beat there rear ends in dec 2012.  if mercer did that to duke imagine what we wouldve done to them.  fox is building a program that is poised to take over the rains of power in the sec for the long term NOT just one win in the tournament.


J. ROBERT (BOB) HOFFMAN is quite the guy actually.  A bottle of hair color at Walmart is like six bucks for a month.  Instead of playing the old man card, as he prematurely went gray, this man played a great game as a kid while I was at UGA myself, although I did not walk-on in basketball.  He scored 1,017 points in college playing 3, a position I could not play.  He has a women's national championship coaching, and has like you say 27 wins two of the current 3 seasons at Mercer in Macon and 24 wins the other.  When they lost the championship game last season to Florida Gulf Coast, last year's NCAA March Madness Cinderella, he and they dedicated themselves to winning.

A devout Christian, Bob Hoffman only 55 years' old BENEFITS from a $ 40 million dollar basketball gym. Mercer spent $ 40 million just a few years' ago on Hawkins Arena.  They use it for Commencement, great Concerts, all their Press Meetings all sports, every occasion really.  In 2014 dollars $ 50 million, the stand-out facility hosts conference championships (hint hint) and is easily accessed off I-75 Mercer University Drive.  We cannot, and Mercer University can, build a $50 million dollar basketball gym ?


The food court is renowned at Hawkins Arena.

The University of Georgia is long overdue to provide our students, our teams, our coaches and the tremendous talent here in this great state such a fine facility.

Mercer Bears, as a result, recruit from Savannah, Atlanta, Macon, and all over.

Bob is from Oklahoma, and he has had many recruits from Oklahoma here.  North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, up North, Bob has used the centerpiece Hawkins Arena to have talent excited to come play in the Arena.  It's beautiful, if you have never been there.

17-1 this season at Hawkins Arena Mercer University.

75 % of their free throws they hit, 40 % of their 3-point shots (how many points is a 3-point shot worth), and play up-tempo taking 57 shots a game, making 27  - ask Duke, who didn't lose, they got blown-out.  Upset alert was announced in this game today early.  Bob kept his troops close the whole entire game, lead change after lead change, and had runs.

Duke players were hanging their heads, as they made old-fashioned 3-point plays on drives with stupid fouls.

They get a lot of assists, and do not turn the ball over.

They block out well, including on drives to the basket.

They don't block shots, don't make steals, they play up-tempo, scoring 80 points a game.

Mercer has a couple of 6' 11" Centers, one from Oklahoma and one from Savannah.  A quarter of the time, they put them both on the court together, twin towers. We don't have that, either.  It's tough to defend.  When they feed the ball inside, they neither miss and hit 75 % of their free throws, even from their big men.

Their guards who shoot their 3-point shots, make them.

Bob plays an 11-man rotation. 

Duke, who does not play an 11-man rotation, were worn down.



6-man all score double-digits all their games.

Bench of 5 more men come-in and score 5 points game.

It's a well-balanced attack.

Ask Duke.

Duke RPI  # 8 and Mercer RPI # 80.

ACC now has seen both Duke and North Carolina State knocked out early, while The SEC is 4-0.

NC State lost to St. Louis last night, and now today Duke goes down hard.

ACC is way over-rated in men's basketball and always has been.  This is NOTHING NEW ACC NCAA March Madness huge blow-out losses to Cinderella teams.

St. Louis


Both better than the ACC.


That's funny.  I hate the ACC and Duke especially. College Men's Basketball is a sport where 7 guys can make a University.  7.  That's all it really takes. 7 guys.  You need a



@ThomasBrown  Agree - ACC is over rated. So is Duke. If Mercer played them 10 times, the Bears would win 8. Hoffman easily out coached Crewzeski (sp. intended)



Only in Thomas' fevered brain is a #12 seed (NC State) losing by 3 to a #5 a "huge blow-out loss to a Cinderella team".

The ACC is so overrated that they have won more NCAA's this century than any other conference


Next matchup for Mercer is TN who they played on the road and beat two years ago in the NIT tourney.  TN is a guard heavy team and might not have an answer for Mercer's Coursey on the inside.  If Mercer can get past TN, they'll get the winner of TX/Mich.  They've already played TX earlier this year, losing by only 3 on the road.  So, in other words, Mercer has a chance to make a little more noise before all is said and done...


Told ya Jeff Schultz!


Congrats Mercer, I've never been happier about having my bracket busted.  And UT is drilling UMASS, what a day...


Wow, just wow, Congrats to the Mercer Bears, wow! 


Even though we lost in the first round to a #11 seed, we are still the best college basketball team in the country!  Right THEBuckeye (delusionaldog)?  Can't wait for football when we win the 2014 National Championship!


This win is a good example of senior player leadership.  These seniors have played together for the last four years, and guess what?  None of them jumped to the NBA, which has hurt Duke a lot.  It says volumns when your best players are freshmen and sophmores.  Just ask Coach K.


@William1952  Want to guess why most Seniors stick around? Not good enough to jump to the pros in the first place.


@William1952  Duke had a history of keeping their players in school for 4 years but that has now gone by the wayside. Plus, it appears that Crewzeski is having a hard time getting the one and dones to play team ball.


Congrats Mercer, the new Pride of Georgia


Not surprised at all. I remember watching the team talk on nba tv and they mentioned how everyone are seniors. Experience will always work out at the end of the day imo.


The Bears took Crimea and Duke in the same week!