A-Sun seeds up for grabs as Bucs face USC Upstate
Friday, February 29, 2008

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (March 1, 2008) -- With several seedings still yet to be determined for next week's Atlantic Sun Confernece Tournament in Nashville, the ETSU men's basketball team will do what it can Saturday afternoon when the Buccnaeers hit the road to face USC Upstate at 4 p.m. inside the G.B. Hodges Center.

This will be ETSU's first-ever trip to USC Upstate, having played the Spartans only once in program history, and enjoying a 67-60 win in that meeting back in January. The Bucs (17-12 overall, 10-5 A-Sun) will be looking for their third straight win and they hope to continue building momentum as they prepare for the conference championships. Right now, the Bucs could finish anywhere from third to fifth in the league standings.

Senior Travis Strong (Memphis) enters the game just four points shy of 1,000 for his career. If he can reach 1,000, he will be the sixth player from the 2003-04 NCAA Tournament team to reach that mark. Those teammates from the '03-'04 squad are Zakee Wadood, Jerald Fields, Ben Rhoda, Tim Smith and Brad Nuckles.

For more on Saturday's game, click the game notebook link above or read the game notes below. Fans unable to attend the game Saturday can watch live via the live video streaming offered at ASun.TV, or they can listen live through ETSUBucs.com. Links to those broadcasts are located above.



Buc Shots

A seven-time NCAA Tournament and two-time NIT participant, the ETSU Buccaneers enter the 2007-08 season coming off a regular season Atlantic Sun Conference championship with a 24-10 overall record, and a 16-2 league mark a year ago ... The Bucs return the 2006-07 A-Sun Player of the Year in junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), as well as the A-Sun Coach of the Year Murry Bartow and All A-Sun Freshman team pick Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) ... Along with returning players like Pigram and Smith, the Bucs also return significant contributors to last season's success such as senior post Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.), senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna), and senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) ... Newcomers for the Bucs that are expected to contribute early and often include junior college transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), who was the JuCo Division II National Player of the Year last season, and lightning quick JuCo point guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) ... Several Bucs are currently leading A-Sun statistical categories, see page 6 of this notebook for more information on those players and their rank ... In addition, see where the Bucs ranks as a team and individually on the national charts on Page 4.

The series against USC Upstate

This will be the second ever meeting between the Bucs and USC Upstate ... ETSU leads the series 1-0, having dropped Upstate 67-60 back on Jan. 5 ... The Trojans are playing their first season as members of NCAA Division I, after spending several seasons at the Division II level as members of the Peachbelt Conference.

Last time against the Spartans

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 5, 2008) - The ETSU men's basketball team may have been facing a first year Division I opponent on Saturday, but USC Upstate was not interested in making anything easy for the Buccaneers ... In the first meeting ever between the schools, ETSU held just a 3-point lead with 10 minutes left in the game, but the Buccaneers were able to overcome one of their worst offensive games of the year to pick up a win in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener for both teams 67-60 at Memorial Center. With the win, ETSU improves to 7-7 on the year, 1-0 in A-Sun play, while USC Upstate drops to 2-13, 0-1 ... Four Bucs reached double figures, led by a game-high 14 points and team-high seven rebounds from senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.). Along with Reed, sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) pitched in 13, senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) added 11, and junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) netted 10 ... For USC Upstate, forward Bobby Davis posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while teammate Jeremy Byrd posted a game-high 14. Luke Payne and Mezie Uzochukwu each added 11 points apiece for the Spartans ... In the first half, ETSU used a 16-4 run from the 16 to 11-minute mark to build a 22-8 lead. From there, the Bucs basically maintained that advantage thanks to 50 percent shooting from the floor, ultimately holding a 39-27 advantage at the intermission ... In the second half, the Bucs just could not get going offensively. In fact, ETSU would hit just five field goals after the break and allowed the Spartans to get within three points on a 3-pointer by Rashawn Brailsford with 10:03 left in the game. Luckily for the Bucs, they managed a 7-0 spurt to make it a 10-point game at the 7:48 mark, and the Spartans were only able to get as close as five points at 55-50 the rest of the game ... For the game, ETSU hit on just 41 percent of its shots, but held the Spartans to 34 percent. The Bucs out-rebounded USC Upstate 36-35, and ETSU was a decisive 25-of-33 from the foul line for a 76 percent clip. The Spartans had 10 steals and forced 23 turnovers by the Bucs.

Last time out

BUIES CREEK, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2008) - Watching a 12-point halftime lead evaporate in the first four minutes of the second half and trailing 58-53 with 15:38 left in the game, the ETSU men's basketball team kept its poise, going on to outscore Atlantic Sun Conference foe Campbell 37-16 over the next eight minutes to build a 16-point lead and roll to a 96-87 win over the Camels Monday night at Carter Gym ... The Buccaneers, who improved to 17-12 overall, 10-5 in A-Sun play, ruined a special ceremonial night at Campbell (10-17, 5-9), as the Camels played their final game inside historic Carter Gym. The Camels first began playing in Carter during the 1953 season, and will open the new John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center next season ... In the first half, the Bucs shot 51 percent from the floor and raced out to a lead of as many as 14 points at 31-17 with 7:04 left before the intermission, ultimately leading by 12 48-36 at the break. Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) led the attack, reaching his career high in the first 20 minutes with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the floor and a 3-of-3 effort from the foul line ... The second half was a different story early on, as Campbell came out hot from beyond the arc, outscoring the Bucs 19-5 to open the half and grabbing the lead 55-53. From there, though, junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) scored 13 of his18 points to power the ETSU comeback. Along with Pigram, the Bucs got a team-high 20 points from senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis), who is now just four points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career ... Along with Pigram and Strong, the Bucs got double figure scoring from senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) with 14, Davis with 12, and both sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) and senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) each finished with 11 points apiece. The Bucs dished out 24 assists on the night and shot 55 percent from the floor, 40 percent from the 3-point arc, and 78 percent from the charity stripe. ETSU's bench also outscored Campbell 31-1 on the night ... For Campbell, the team's standout player Jonathan Rodriguez finished with a double-double, posting game highs with 31 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Reggie Bishop added 17, while Junard Hartley and Kyle Vejraska netted 16 and 13, respectively.

Strong approaching 1,000 points for his career

With one regular season games left on the schedule and at least one game in the Atlantic Sun tournament, fifth-year senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) is on the verge of reaching the 1,000-point mark before his time at ETSU is over ... Strong currently stands at 996 points for his career after scoring 20 points in back-to-back games against Tennessee Tech and Campbell ... Strong, who is averaging 10.6 ppg, is the final link to the 2004 NCAA Tournament team at ETSU, and would be the sixth player from that squad to reach 1,000 points ... The others to reach that mark from the 2004 squad include Jerald Fields, Zakee

Wadood, Tim Smith, Ben Rhoda and Brad Nuckles.

Williams making his mark

As a redshirt freshman, guard Micah Williams (Manchester) spent last season and much of the early part of this year waiting for his chance to make a mark ... Most recently, Williams broke through against Lipscomb (2/16), setting or matching career highs for points (14), field goals (5), field goals attempted (8), 3-point field goals (2) and rebounds (6) ... In his last 11 games, Williams is averaging 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds a game in 12.4 minutes a contest.

Tiggs taking over

With his second A-Sun Player of the Week honor in his possession, junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) is certainly making an impression on the ETSU basketball program and the Atlantic Sun Conference in his first season wearing the Blue and Gold ... After several strong performances, Tiggs is second in scoring (15.6 ppg), is second in rebounding (5.7 rpg), and is first in steals (1.7) on the team ... In the league, he ranks fourth in field goal percentage (56 percent) and is sixth in free throw percentage (79 percent) ... This season, he has already posted three double-doubles, and has reached double figures in scoring 18 times.

Bucs' RPI, Strength of Schedule rank among best in nation

Though the Bucs are now 17-12 on the year, the team's slow start at the beginning of the year was understandable when considering ETSU played an exceptionally tough early season slate ... As of Jan. 21 the Buccaneers' strength of schedule (SOS) ranked 74th in the country according to RealtimeRPI.com ... That SOS rank is obvious when looking at the RPI of ETSU's opponents in the early season schedule, which included -- at the time -- St. Mary's (4th), Dayton (7th) and Syracuse (11th) ... In fact, until just recently the Bucs SOS was as high at 18th in the country, before entering conference play ... As for RPI, the Bucs rank a respectable 150th out of 342 Division I teams.

Non-conference home win streak at 17

Over the last three seasons, the Bucs have fared well against non-conference opponents within the confines of Memorial Center ... In fact, the Bucs have won 17 straight non-conference homes games since losing a 90-73 contest to Fresno State back on Nov. 27, 2004 ... ETSU has enjoyed wins over teams such as Marshall (2), Chattanooga, Central Michigan, Morehead State, Tennessee Tech (2), UNC Asheville, Eastern Kentucky, Radford and Appalachian State in that time frame.

Home Sweet Dome

Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 118-38 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 76 percent ... The Bucs had won five straight at Memorial Center during the 2006-07 season before a loss to Belmont (1/2) ... The Bucs then rattled off 10 straight at home to stand at 15-1 on the Memorial Center floor that season, but fell to Belmont in the final game of the year in the championship of the A-Sun Tournament ... This year, the Bucs are 11-2 at Memorial Center.

The Bucs at the Rainbow Classic

Spending a week in Hawaii during the winter months is always enjoyable, but ETSU's second trip ever to the Rainbow Classic was a bittersweet experience ... While the Bucs picked up their first win over a Southeastern Conference opponent since 1991-92 with a 76-58 victory over Georgia in the first round, the team finished the trip 1-2 after falling in back-to-back games to St. Mary's and Louisiana-Lafayette ... While the St. Mary's game was expected to be difficult -- considering the Gaels were ranked No. 2 in the RPI -- the 82-80 overtime loss to a 3-7 Lafayette team kept the Bucs from evening their season record to 6-6 coming home from the islands ... In two trips to the Rainbow, the Bucs are now 2-4 all time.

Another championship banner

With a win against Stetson (2/22), the Bucs wrapped up an outright 2006-07 A-Sun regular season title and garnered the No. 1 seed in the week's league championship tournament ... For ETSU, it was the continuation of a recent string of success that dates back to the 2000-2001 season ... In all, the Bucs have captured championships in five of the last seven seasons, including back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips in 2002-03 and 2003-04, and a trip to the NIT in 2006-07 ... Here is the championship breakdown:

2000-2001 -- Southern Conference North Division Championship

2001-2002 -- SoCon North Division championship

2002-2003 -- SoCon North Division championship; SoCon Tournament Championship

2003-2004 -- SoCon North Division championship, SoCon Regular Season Championship, SoCon Tournament Championship

2006-2007 -- Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Championship

Pigram eclipses 1,000 points

Beginning just his third season at ETSU, junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) has already eclipsed the 1,000-point mark with a jump shot from the right corner at the 17:52 mark against Chattanooga (11/28) ... That basket gave Pigram 1,000 for his career and following the contest with the Mocs ... The junior now stands at 1,395 for his career and ranks for 7th on the all-time program scoring list ... The 6-1 shooting guard scored 325 points as a freshman and then netted a remarkable 614 as a sophomore ... His 614 points a year ago ranks 6th on the single season list.

1,126 wins and counting

With a win Jan. 25, 2007 against Belmont, the Bucs collected the program's 1,100th win all-time ... In over 80 years of basketball, the Bucs are 1,126-906.

Bucs dominate Preseason All A-Sun Picks

Last season, ETSU won its first Atlantic Sun Conference men's basketball title, but Belmont denied the Buccaneers the conference's automatic bid in the final of the General Shale Brick Men's Basketball Championship ... Entering the 2007-08 season, both the coaches and the media predict that the Buccaneers will again be battling the Bruins for conference supremacy ... Both chose ETSU as the favorite to win the conference and defend its regular-season title with Belmont second ... The Bucs were the clear choice by the media to win the tournament ... The Buccaneers have gone 28-10 in A-Sun play in their two years in the league and will continue to be led by Courtney Pigram (Memphis). The junior from Memphis, Tenn. was named the preseason Player of the Year following up his Player of the Year award for the 2006-07 season ... As a sophomore, Pigram averaged 18.1 points per game, second-best in the conference and also ranked in the top 10 in steals (2nd, 2.62 SPG), 3-point field goals per game (3rd, 2.62 3-pt FG per game) and assists (7th, 3.74 APG). He turned in one the league's virtuoso performances of the season when he dished out a conference-record 18 assists against Mercer on February 24 to go along with 29 points and eight rebounds. The 18 assists set an A-Sun record, were one off the school record, and were the second-highest single-game total in Division I in the last two seasons.

Bucs on the Tube

Along with the new ASun.TV package which will video stream all ETSU men's and women's home games on the Internet, the Bucs will again have a significant presence on the television screen as well this year ... In fact, ETSU's trips to Oklahoma State (Dec. 8) and Syracuse (Dec. 15) both aired live locally, with the Oklahoma State game showing on WKPT (ABC) and the Syracuse contest aired on WJHL (CBS) ... The Bucs have also appeared on regional cable through the Friday night CSS Atlantic Sun Game of the Week with the Jan. 25th trip to Jacksonville and the Feb. 1 home game against Mercer on CSS ... In addition, Charter Main Street will air its weekly ETSU replay on Charter 13 and Comcast 14 Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., with the weekly games beginning on Dec. 4th with the Tennessee-Wesleyan game.

Chilton's No. 42 comes out of retirement

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 31, 2007) - For many years, Tom Chilton's No. 42 has held a special place in ETSU basketball's history. Next season, fans will see that special number on the floor once again ... Chilton, who ranks first all-time with 26.1 points per game and fifth on the all-time scoring list with 1,801, has agreed to allow junior transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) to wear his No. 42 jersey for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 season. Chilton, who now makes his home in Madison, Ind., said he was honored a current player would want to wear his number ... "I wish him the best and I'm honored he wants to wear No. 42," said Chilton, whose 42 is the only retired number in ETSU's program history. "I hope he always considers that the number doesn't make the player, but the player makes the number. A lot of hard work and effort went into that number during my time there, but ETSU gave a lot back to me and I wouldn't be where I am today without that university, so I'm happy to allow the number to be worn again." ... ETSU head coach Murry Bartow said he was appreciative Chilton would allow the number to come out of retirement, and he reiterated that the number will go back into retirement two years from now ... "Tom Chilton was one of the finest players to ever wear an ETSU uniform, and his willingness to allow Kevin to wear the number shows he is still proud to be a part of our program's tradition," Bartow said. "It's our expectation that Kevin understand the importance of the number and the responsibility that goes with wearing it." ... Tiggs, the 2007 National Junior College Division II Player of the Year, said he certainly understood the history behind the number ... "Mr. Chilton was and is a legend here, so wearing his number comes with a great deal of responsibility," Tiggs said. "I just want to play in a way that would make him proud."