Bucs face historic moment Friday in NCAA first round matchup with Pitt
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

DAYTON, Ohio (March 18, 2009) -- Twenty years removed from nearly upsetting No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the 1989 NCAA Tournament, the ETSU Buccaneers get another chance to make history.

Losing to Oklahoma 72-71 back in 1989, the No. 16 seeded Buccaneers came as close as anyone ever has to dropping a top seed. This year, the Bucs are once again seeded 16th and will return to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history to take on No. 1 seed Pittsburgh.

Game time is set for 2:55 in the University of Dayton Arena and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.

ETSU (23-10) has a history of first round wins and near misses in the NCAAs, having picked up victories in 1968 (Florida State) and 1992 (Arizona), while losing by just three points in 1991 (Iowa), 2003 (Wake Forest) and 2004 (Cincinnati). This year, the Bucs hope to shock the world by becoming the first 16 to ever beat a 1, with that current streak standing at 0-96.

For more on the game, click on the ETSU Postseason Media Guide link above or read the game notes below:


We are "ETSU"

The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would like to ask both the print and broadcast media to honor our request to be called "ETSU" throughout the 2009 NCAA Tournament ... East Tennessee State in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics both on CBS and ESPN, please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.

ETSU in the NCAA Tournament

The Buccaneers are making their eighth trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament ... ETSU first made the NCAA postseason in 1968, defeating Florida State before being eliminated by losses to Ohio State and Marquette ... The Bucs later made trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003 and 2004 ... Highlights for ETSU in the tournament include a win over Arizona in the first round during the 1992 tournament, as well as a near miss as the No. 16 seed in 1989, losing to Oklahoma by one point in that game ... The Bucs have also had near-miss upsets in three other trips to the NCAAs, losing by just three points to Iowa (1991), Wake Forest (2003) and Cincinnati (2004) ... For more ETSU NCAA History, see Pages 10-12 of this posteason guide.

Last time out in NCAA Tournament

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Mar. 19, 2004) - (AP) Another 3-pointer came between East Tennessee State and a first-round upset ... Tony Bobbitt hit a 3 from the left corner with 16.1 seconds left Friday, rallying fourth-seeded Cincinnati to an 80-77 victory over a team that keeps coming up just short in the NCAA tournament ... Flashy point guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) scored 26 points, but missed a driving layup on his last try. The Buccaneers (27-6) then missed two follow-up shots before Jason Maxiell got the rebound to clinch it ... East Tennessee State, the 13th seed in the Atlanta Regional this year, nearly pulled off a surprise last year, falling by three points to second-seeded Wake Forest. Smith shot an airball on a 3 at the end, dooming the comeback ... This time, his layup didn't go and Cincinnati (25-6) was spared from the prospect of another quick exit. The Bearcats had failed to make it past the first weekend of the tournament six of the last seven years ... Field Williams led Cincinnati with 19 points. Bobbitt, who made a last-second 3 that clinched a share of the Conference USA regular season title, added 15 ... As East Tennessee State stayed close, the crowd of 19,588 swung in its favor, wiping away Cincinnati's advantage of paying only a two-hour drive from home ... Instead of screaming for the ‘Cats, the fans were marveling at the smallest player on the floor. The 5-foot-9 Smith was 10-of-25 from the field, leading a comeback that stole the fans' hearts ... The brawnier Bearcats flexed their muscle at the outset, showing right away that East Tennessee State was going to have to do some things differently to get a first-round upset ... As a prelude, Smith got to shake hands during introductions with one of the players who would guard him -- 6-foot-7 forward James White, whose chin touched the bottom of Smith's head when they embraced ... Try shooting the left-handed jumper over that! ... Then the Southern Conference's player of the year got a taste of what was to come. Three of Zakee Wadood's (Lonoke, Ark.) first four shots were blocked by Maxiell, a power forward who wasn't going for any fakes near the basket. ... Wadood finished with 17 points, but was only 6-of-18 from the field.

Last time out

NASHVILLE (March 7, 2009) - For most of the 2008-09 season, much had been written and said about ETSU's "Big Three" of senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) ... But in the finals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships at Allen Arena, it was the Buccaneers "Big 10" that truly made the difference. While Smith posted a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds to go with 21 points from Tiggs, the ETSU bench combined to provide 22 points and 12 rebounds in an absolutely dominating 85-68 win over Jacksonville ... With the win, ETSU (23-10) secures a bid to the 2009 NCAA Tournament, marking the eighth time in school history that the Buccaneers have made their way to March Madness. The Bucs are the 16th different team to win the A-Sun title and first new winner since Belmont took the championship in 2006 ... Dominance in the paint and on the glass highlighted the first half for ETSU, along with a quick scoring start for Tiggs. The Bucs held a 22-17 advantage on the boards, outscoring the Dolphins 24-8 in the paint and enjoying a 14-0 edge in second chance points. Meanwhile, Tiggs scored 13 of ETSU's first 23 points, staking the Bucs to a 23-11 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the half ... From there, Tiggs got in foul trouble after picking up his third violation of the game with 6:12 left before the intermission. The score was 32-18 at the time, and despite Tiggs' departure ETSU still pushed the lead out to 43-28 at the break ... In the first half, Tiggs was joined by Smith with 13 points to lead the way, but despite the fact senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) scored just 1 point, it was the supporting cast of freshman forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), sophomore forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), sophomore guard Micah Williams (Manchester) and senior forward Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) that combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench ... The second half opened with another ETSU run, as a 3-pointer by Pigram to open the half ignited an 11-2 run for the Buccaneers and made the score 54-30 with 16:19 left in the game. Jacksonville tried to answer with a 4-0 spurt of its own, but ultimately ETSU would lead by 30 at 69-39 with 9:05 left in the game. ... Jacksonville ultimately rallied to outscore the Bucs 29-16 over the final nine minutes, but at that point it was simply too late for the Dolphins to recover ... For the game, ETSU shot 47 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Dolphins 40-34, forcing 15 turnovers on seven steals. Meanwhile, the Bucs' defense held JU to 39 percent shooting and just 68 points on the night ... Along with Smith and Tiggs, Williams finished with a career high 16 points, and Hubbard finished with six points and seven rebounds, while Brown pitched in nine points and five rebounds. Pigram, Smith and Tiggs made all-tournament team, with Tiggs earning MVP honors.

E-mail campaign, pregame chants inspire Pigram

Having struggled through a tough five-game stretch midway through the month of February, senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) had lost his confidence and his game ... However, instead of booing the four-year Buccaneer star, ETSU's fan base began a grass roots movement to send e-mails of support and encouragment to Pigram ... The ETSU administration then joined in by promoting a series of chants prior to the Bucs' game with Kennesaw State on Feb. 26, and having a boy holding a sign that said "Believe In CP" ... The efforts worked, as Pigram was greeted with chants of "Let's go, CP" even before the tip ... He smiled prior ot the start of the game and ultimately hit his first shot and scored 16 points that night ... Pigram has sense scored 38 points, 15 and 30 in three of his last four games, and helped lead the Bucs back to the NCAA Tournament.

Tiggs takes unlikely road to Division I success

Kevin Tiggs does not have the typical "big-time" college basketball story ... A kid from the heart of Flint, Mich., who grew up with a cousin and did not have either parents in his life, Tiggs saw unimaginable things back in his hometown, and still always has a smile on his face ... Having played only one year of high school basketball, he later enrolled in Mott Community College and was not recruited to play basketball ... While playing pickup in the Mott gymnasium, he was asked to come back and try out for the team ... Two years later he was the JuCo Division II Player of the Year and led the Mott team to a national title ... Today, he's a Top 20 scorer in Division I and leading our team to a conference title and NCAA berth ... One other interesting note is that when he came to ETSU he asked to wear the No. 42 jersey, which is ETSU's ONLY retired number ... The coaching staff and administration debated for a long time on what to do, but ultimately decided to ask Tom Chilton (the man who wore it), if he was OK with Tiggs wearing the number ... He was and in October of 2007, Tiggs and Chilton met in our arena to exchange pleasantries. Chilton told him to live up to the number and Tiggs has ... Chilton is No. 6 on our all-time scoring list and averaged over 26 points a game in just three seasons back in the late 1950s and early 60s ... Tiggs has certainly live up to that name.

Smith, Tiggs eclipse 1,000; Bucs have three at that mark

With a put back at the 2:08 mark of the first half at Lipscomb on Feb. 16, ETSU senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career ... Meanwhile, Tiggs' teammate -- junior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) -- reached that same pinnacle with a free throw at the 2:06 mark of the second half against USC Upstate on Feb. 19 ... Tiggs now stands at 1,176 points for his career, and Smith is at 1,112 ... While it is not rare to have multiple players on the same team that "eventually" become 1,000-point scorers, having multiple players on the same team that have already eclipsed 1,000-points is rare ... And now, the Bucs have Smith, Tiggs and senior guard Courntey Pigram (Memphis) that have reached that milestone ... The only two times in ETSU history that the Bucs have had three or more 1,000 point scorers on the floor at the same time was in 1990-91 and 2003-04 ... In 1990-91, four 1,000-point scorers were on the floor together at the same time, Keith "Mister" Jennings, Calvin Talford, Major Geer and Alvin West were on the floor together ... The other season this occurred was in 2003-04, when Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood and Tim Smith all reached 1,000 points.

Pigram eclipses 2,000 pts.; joins exclusive A-Sun club

With 30 points against Belmont, senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) moved to 2,026 points for his career ... With those points, he passed for ETSU great Keith "Mister" Jennings for third on the program's all-time scoring list ... And he became only the second player in A-Sun play to reach 2,000 points for his career.

Name School Years` POINTS

Willie Jackson Cent 1980-84 2535

* Courtney Pigram ETSU 2005- 2,026

Sam Mitchell Mer 1981-85 1986

Craig Beard Sam 1982-85 1985

Steve Barker Sam 1978-82 1902

ETSU the "only" A-Sun team picked among

nation's best "Prestige" programs

Since the beginning of the modern era for NCAA Division I-A basketball - marked by the expansion of the NCAA Tournament field to 64 teams in 1984-85 - ETSU men's basketball ranks in the Top 30 percent of the 300 programs that were eligible for the postseason at that time, this according to a new "Prestige" ranking released by ESPN.com in the summer of 2008 ... The Buccaneers, who have enjoyed six NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT berth, eight 20-win seasons, and a slew of conference regular season and tournament championships since 1984-85, ranked tied for 82nd out of 300 teams, meaning they were in the Top 27 percent of schools making the list. ETSU ranked ahead of every current Atlantic Sun Conference team, as well as former Southern Conference rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. The Bucs were placed ahead of every member of the Colonial Athletic Association with the exception of Old Dominion ... In addition, the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn, as well as other programs like Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.