Arian Shariatmadari
Mercury Staff

The men’s basketball team has been off to a strong start this season, remaining undefeated since Dec. 8. On Thursday, the team took home a narrow victory against Belhaven University in Mississippi, with a final score of 72-71.

Sophomore guard Javon Snow said the team’s overall dynamic is a factor in its continued success.

“It’s a good atmosphere, we’re a really close-knit group and we’re really playing well together this year,” Snow said.

Belhaven closed the first half with a 10-point lead but missed 21 field goals and 13 three pointers in the second half, which ended up costing them the game.

“We are currently in a battle in our league in the American Southwest Conference. We’re trying to win the East Division,” said Terry Butterfield, the head coach of the men’s team. “The winner of the division will be the one that hosts the conference tournament this year at the end of the season.”

Hosting the conference tournament has been a long-time ambition for Butterfield, who is in his 19th year as a head coach for the men’s team. The mewen’s team has not won the conference championship since 2014, and hosting it could be important in winning the tournament this year.

“We definitely want to host the conference tournament this year,” Snow said. “So, we’re in position to do that if we keep winning and have a shot at the national tournament.”

Last year’s ASC East Division champion was LeTourneau University, with 24 overall wins, whereas the Comets are currently at 15.

“We’re doing what we need to do on the court, on and off the court, and it’s translating to our record,” said freshman forward Simeon Soname.

This time last season, the team had six losses and 12 wins. Butterfield said though last year’s record was not the worst, this team’s performance season has been markedly different.

“Each season is different, there’s no two seasons that are alike,” Butterfield said.

He said cutting losses in half by this point has been a key indicator of improvement, but there is still some ways to go to secure victory.

“Nothing’s been decided,” Butterfield said. “Everything is very much up in the air. We have eight league games left. Everything is basically up for grabs right now.”

Since the recent game against Belhaven, the team improved its record to 15-3. Butterfield said the right mentality is important in achieving results.

“It’s easy to have high morale when you’re winning and experiencing success. I think that success breeds confidence, and hopefully confidence can be turned into more success,” Butterfield said. “They sort of are dependent on each other.”

Butterfield said the potential impact a loss in the final stretch would have on the morale of the team wouldn’t hold the players back for long.

“I think that guys have to be resilient when things don’t go their way,” he said. “You have to turn the page and you have to get on to the next one.”

In regard to the final eight games the team has to play, Butterfield said one of the most important ways to help the team carry on is the fans. 

“It makes a huge difference when we have our student body come out to support,” Butterfield said. “There’s nothing harder than being on the road and playing in front of a partisan crowd, pulling for the other team.”