Thomas, Nuckles lead Bucs past Jacksonville, 71-59
Monday, January 15, 2007


            JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 15, 2007) - The inside tandem of senior forwards Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.) and Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.) put together a dominant performance in the paint to lead the ETSU men's basketball team to a 71-59 win over Jacksonville in Atlantic Sun Conference action Monday evening inside Memorial Center.


            As a crowd of 3,950 looked on, Nuckles picked up his third straight double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while setting new career highs with six blocks and nine made free throws. Meanwhile, Thomas set personal bests with 12 rebounds and eight steals, while also providing eight points and rejecting six Jacksonville shots.


            "The last two games we haven't shot the ball very well and that concerns me, but defensively again we did a lot of good things," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team won its fifth straight game and improved to 13-7 overall, 7-1 in A-Sun play. "I've said a lot about Eryk's game defensively, and tonight was another sign of that. And I don't know what Brad's been eating, but he's really playing well right now. I hope they both keep that up."


            In the first half, both teams played with a ferocious intensity from the outset. In fact, Jacksonville (7-10, 3-4) found itself with seven fouls just after the second media timeout and more than half of the first 20 minutes remaining on the game clock. ETSU capitalized on those foul troubles, hitting on 11-of-13 shots from the charity stripe and overcoming a 35 percent shooting clip from the field to lead 32-16 at the break. Key to the Bucs' 16-point halftime advantage was a 23-4 run to close out the half. Most impressively, Thomas had a career high five steals even before the break and Nuckles finished the first part of the game with 11 points and four blocks.


            The Bucs roared out of the gate in the second half, outscoring Jacksonville 17-11 over the first eight minutes to take a 22-point advantage at 49-27. The Dolphins used several offensive spurts of their own the rest of the way to stay within shouting distance of the Bucs, actually cutting the deficit to as few as 10 points at 69-59 in the final minute. However, a final bucket by Nuckles finished the game off at 71-59.


            ETSU enjoyed a 15-block effort and forced Jacksonville into 21 turnovers thanks in part to 14 steals. While the Bucs only shot 35 percent from the floor, they were 19-of-21 (91 percent) from the foul line and out-rebounded Jacksonville, 45-33. Along with Nuckles and Thomas, ETSU got 14 points from sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis). Meanwhile, Jacksonville's only player in double figures was Derek Duggins with 13.


            The Bucs return to action Friday night in the CSS Game of the Week against Kennesaw State. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will also be available live via internet video streaming at