Bucs hope to protect home court against Gardner-Webb
Friday, January 11, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 11, 2008) -- The ETSU men's basketball team will look to stretch its season long streak of six straight wins to seven when the Buccaneers take on Atlantic Sun Conference foe Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Center. Tip is set for 4 p.m. immediately following the Lady Bucs' game with GW at 1:30.

The Bucs, 8-7 overall, 2-0 in A-Sun play, are coming off back-to-back, hard-fought league wins over USC Upstate and Campbell. Meanwhile, the Runnin' Bulldogs -- who shocked the college basketball world earlier this season with a win on the road at Kentucky -- have been struggling lately and are 7-10 overall, 1-2 in league play.

This will be ETSU's final home game before a critical road stretch at Belmont (Jan. 17), Lipscomb (Jan. 19) and Jacksonville (Jan. 25). The Bucs are 3-2 all-time against GW, a series that dates back to just 2005-06 when ETSU first joined the A-Sun.

Fans unable to attend the game can watch the live video stream available at ASun.TV, or can listen to the free audio provided by the MSHA Buccaneer Sports Network located at ETSUBucs.com.

For more on the game, click on the game notes links provided above of see the game notes text below.

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 Gardner-Webb

The Bucs are 3-2 all-time against Gardner-Webb in a series that began in 2005-06 when ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Last year, the Bucs swept the season series, including a 63-61 nailbiter over GW inside Memorial Center a year ago.

Last time against the Runnin' Bulldogs

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 2, 2007) - Down 59-50 with 4:48 left on the game clock, the ETSU men's basketball team found a way to regroup, outscoring Gardner-Webb 13-2 the rest of the way to escape with a 63-61 win in Atlantic Sun Conference action at Memorial Center ... The Bucs' (17-7 overall, 11-1 A-Sun) comeback got started with back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) and freshman guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville), cutting the lead to 59-56 with 3:05 left and brought the crowd of 5,163 to its feet. After a pair of free throws by the Runnin' Bulldogs made it 61-56, ETSU got two more baskets from Twilley, a lay up from senior Eryk Thomas (Fremont, Calif.), and a free throw from freshman guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) to make it 63-61. Smith's foul shot came after he blocked the potential game-winning attempt of Gardner-Webb's Thomas Sanders and grabbed the loose ball ... The Bucs certainly got the Runnin' Bulldogs' best shot, as Gardner-Webb hit on 50 percent from the field and a crisp 56 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. While the Bucs shot 54 percent from the field themselves, they hit just seven 3-pointers compared to 10 for G-W ... Both teams shot the basketball well in the first half, with ETSU posting a 51.7 percent clip (15-of-29), while Gardner-Webb hit on 50 percent (11-of-22) of its shots. The Bucs led 11-5 at the first media timeout with just over 15 minutes remaining in the half, and both teams traded baskets from there with ETSU holding a 35-30 advantage at the break. While ETSU scored a majority of its points on the inside, the Bulldogs stayed in it primarily with shots from outside, hitting on 6-of-10 from beyond the arc ... In the second half, G-W battled back methodically to take the lead for the first time at 43-40 thanks to a 3-pointer from Ricky McPhee with 14:39 left. The Bulldogs would hold that lead the rest of the way until Thomas' lay up with 1:10 remaining made it 62-61. ETSU proceeded to stop G-W's next possession when a shot by Chris Gash missed and Thomas rebounded. However, Thomas promptly turned the ball over giving Sanders a chance at the win, but Smith was there for the block and was fouled. After hitting one of two free throws, Takayo Siddle's 3-point attempt from the left wing missed and the Bucs escaped with the victory.

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 10, 2008) - Senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) scored 13 of his 16 points in the final seven minutes, helping the ETSU men's basketball team rally from an 11-point deficit in the final 11 minutes to drop Atlantic Sun Conference foe Campbell 74-69 in front of 3,321 Thursday night inside Memorial Center ... The game saw four ties and six lead changes before a Strong 3-pointer with just under a minute left gave the Bucs a 70-67 lead that they never relinquished. With the win, ETSU improves to 2-0 in A-Sun play, and moves to 8-7 overall on the year. Meanwhile, the Camels drop to 1-2 in league play and 5-9 overall ... ETSU, which did not lead in the game until the 6:24 mark of the second half when a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) made it 60-58, actually pulled its starting five players in the opening seconds after halftime and completely emptied its bench. With a lineup comprised of two freshmen, a sophomore and two junior college transfers, the Bucs kept in the game and gave their starters a chance to regroup and reenergize ... The strategy worked, as the Bucs used an 18-7 run to take a 51-40 deficit and tie the game at 58-58 with 7:34 remaining. From there, the back and forth battle ultimately ended with Strong scoring the final seven points of the game on a 3-pointer and four straight free throws to ice the game ... In the first half, Campbell used some hot shooting from the outside and a strong defensive effort to build a lead of as many as 11 points at 37-26 with just under two minutes left in the half. A free throw by senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) and a 3-pointer by Courtney Pigram (Memphis) with four seconds left pulled the Bucs closer, but ETSU still trailed 37-30 at the break ... At the intermission, Campbell was shooting 48 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point range (6-of-12) and 100 percent (7-of-7) from the foul line. Sophomore forward Jonathan Rodriguez led the way with 14 points, while senior guard Jake Wohlfeil was a perfect 3-of-3 from 3-point range to net nine points. The Bucs' 30 points was their lowest offensive output in a first half this season ... For the game, the Bucs got a team high 23 points from Pigram, while Strong added 16 and Smith pitched in 10. ETSU out-rebounded Campbell 41-31 and grabbed 19 offensive boards to just 10 for the Camels. The Bucs shot 84.2 percent from the foul line and grabbed 11 steals ... Campbell got a game-high 25 points from Rodriguez, Kyle Vejraska netted 16, Wohlfeil scored 15, and Bishop pitched in 11. The Camels shot 50 percent from 3-point range (9-of-18), and were 80 percent from the charity stripe (16-of-20).

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

Though the Bucs are off to a 8-7 start, it's understandable when considering ETSU has only played four home games so far this season ... More importantly, the Buccaneers' strength of schedule (SOS) currently ranks 35th 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 includes St. Mary's (4th), Dayton (7th) and Syracuse (11th) ... As for RPI, the Bucs rank a respectable 88th out of 342 Division I teams.

Home Sweet Dome

Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 113-36 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 76 percent ... The Bucs ETSU 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 6-0 at Memorial Center so far.

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.

Non-conference home win streak at 16

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 16 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, UNC Asheville, Eastern Kentucky, Radford and Appalachian State in that time frame ... Against conference opponents, the Bucs have won 10 straight regular season conference games.

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

New starting five

During the Bucs recent trip to the Rainbow Classic, head coach Murry Bartow used a completely new starting five, with junior guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.), junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) ... While that group went only 1-2 on the trip, they did pick up the win over SEC foe Georgia and lost a close overtime battle with Louisiana-Lafayette ... However, the Bucs reshuffled the lineup again versus Appalachian State, moving Pigram to the point position, and inserting seniors Travis Strong (Memphis) and Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) to go with Tiggs and Reed ... That starting five is now 3-0 on the year.

Davis, Pigram and assist/turnover ratio

One positive to come from the early season schedule as been the play of both junior guards Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) and Courtney Pigram (Memphis) ... From a distribution of the basketball and offensive production standpoint, both have shown an ability to pick up assists without turning the ball over ... Currently, Davis ranks fourth in the A-Sun with an assist/turnover ratio of 1.6 ... As for assists per game, Pigram ranks 3rd with 3.9 a game, while Davis is 8th with 3.5 a contest

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 1,187 for his career and ranks 17th 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.

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."

Swader, Tiggs breaking out

Entering this season, a great deal was expected of both junior transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) ... Following 15 games, the two are definitely meeting or surpassing those expections ... In the Bucs' win at UNCA, Tiggs scored the game winner with 1.7 seconds left and also picked up 20 points ... In the first Marshall game, Tiggs broke out with a game-high 26 points, and setting career marks in most every statistical category ... In all, Tiggs has scored at least 20 points in five of the Bucs' 15 games, and currently stands tall on the Atlantic Sun stat sheets, ranking second in field goal percentage and sixth in free throw percentage ... Meanwhile, Swader has provided an immediate offensive threat in his first 15 games, currently standing sixth on the team with 6.5 points per game ... Currently, Swader is 10th in the A-Sun with a 39 percent 3-point field goal percentage.

1,117 wins and counting

With a win Jan. 25 against Belmont, the Bucs collected the program's 1,100th win all-time ... In over 80 years of basketball, the Bucs are 1,117-901-27.

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 will also appear 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 scheduled for air 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 ... For a complete schedule, visit ETSUBucs.com.

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, who have gone 28-10 in A-Sun play in their two years in the league, 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.