The Madness could begin Saturday for Bucs against Jacksonville
Saturday, March 7, 2009

NASHVILLE (March 7, 2009) -- For the second time in four years, the ETSU men's basketball team will play in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship game for a chance to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Buccaneers will meet Jacksonville at 6 p.m. (EST) inside Lipscomb's Allen Arena.

The game will air nationally on ESPN2.

No. 2-seeded ETSU enters the game on a four-game winning streak, but will meet the No. 1 seed Jacksonville, a team on a two-game streak of its own and the regular season A-Sun Champion.

For more on the game, click on the game notebook above, or read the game notes below.


The Bucs All-Time in the A-Sun Tournament

Entering just their fourth Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, the Buccaneers are 5-3 all-time, having lost in the first round of the event in 2006, advancing to the finals in 2007, and falling in the semifinals in 2008 ... In conference tournaments all-time (including the Southern and Ohio Valley), the Bucs are 35-21, having gone 6-3 in league championship finals.

Last time out in the A-Sun Tournament

NASHVILLE (March 6, 2009) - Led by a game-high 30 points from senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), the ETSU men's basketball team finally ended Belmont's three-year run of Atlantic Sun Conference championships with an 88-74 victory over the Bruins Friday evening in the semifinals of the General Shale Brick A-Sun Championships at Allen Arena ... On his way to his 30 points, Pigram eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for his career, moved past Keith "Mister" Jennings to stand third on the ETSU all-time scoring list, and became just the second player in A-Sun history to record 2,000 points for his career. Pigram was joined in double figures scoring by senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) with 21 points, junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) with 19, and sophomore forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) with 11 ... Despite possessing the top two scoring offenses on the A-Sun, both the Bucs and Bruins got off to slow shooting starts to begin the game and the score stood at just 10-9 with 11:58 left before the intermission. From there, the lead changed six times until the Bucs took a 16-14 edge and extended their advantage to 10 points at 34-24 on a Pigram 3-pointer with 1:56 left in the half ... Belmont was able to regroup from there and collect the final five points of the half to make the score 34-29 at the break. In the first half, ETSU held Belmont to just 37 percent shooting and outrebounded the Bruins 18-16, forcing eight Belmont turnovers and shooting 43 percent from the floor ... The first half included an historic moment for Pigram, whose first field goal of the game at the 10:21 mark allowed him to move to No. 3 on the Bucs' all-time scoring list, passing Jennings who scored 1,988 points in his career. Pigram later added to the history with his 3-pointer at the 1:56 mark, which moved him past the 2,000-point scoring plateau. Pigram trails only Centenary's Willie Jackson on the scoring list, as Jackson finished his career with 2,535 points ... The second half opened with an 8-0 ETSU run that made the score 42-29 with 17:43 left, but Belmont immediately answered with its own 13-2 burst to get the game back to two points at 44-42 with just over 14 minutes left in the game ... Despite a pair of mini runs for the Bucs midway through the half that pushed the lead out to as many as 10 points, the ETSU advantage remained just two points at 72-70 with 3:16 left in regulation. However, from there the Bucs made five straight defensive stops and outscored the Bruins 16-4 the rest of the way to secure the victory.

Last time in the A-Sun Finals

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 3, 2007) - Second-seeded Belmont earned its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament with a dominating 94-67 win over ETSU in the championship game of the 2007 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Men's Basketball Championship ... The Bruins did it the hard way, beating the Bucs on their home floor inside Memorial Center. Of course, Belmont has made Johnson City its home away from home since ETSU joined the A-Sun, winning all eight games inside the mini-dome ... The Bruins were in control of the game from the opening tap and never relented. They were a remarkable 14-for-29 from 3-point range, but that only tells part of the story. Their sizeable early was built in the opening 20 minutes and came on the strength of remarkable shooting display from beyond the arc. A 22-7 run in the first seven minutes showed what kind of game it was going to be. Belmont started with six different players making 3-pointers ... It kept going from there. An 11-point lead at that point kept growing as the half wore on. ETSU tried to make a couple of runs to put a dent in the Belmont armor, but poor shooting snuffed out the early comeback attempts ... Meanwhile, Belmont kept firing and making from long range, sinking 12-of-19 from long distance before the break. The last one was really a dagger to the Bucs comeback chances. ETSU's Brad Nuckles finally got one to fall with four seconds left but tournament MVP Justin Hare raced downcourt and hit a running, double-pump 3 at the buzzer to keep momentum on the side of the Bruins ... Overall, Belmont shot 53 percent in the first half while limiting ETSU to 35 ... Trailing big at the half, Bartow and the Bucs did not loose faith, but a second-half run was not to be.

ETSU in conference tournament finals

The Buccaneers have played in eight previous tournament finals and hold an impressive 6-3 mark ... The following is a breakdown of those games:

1983 -- vs. Chattanooga, 70-62 (L)

1989 -- vs. Marshall, 96-73 (W)

1990 -- vs. Appalachian State, 96-75 (W)

1991 -- vs. Appalachian State, 101-82 (W)

1992 -- vs. Chattanooga, 74-62 (W)

1993 -- vs. Chattanooga, 86-75 (L)

2003 -- vs. Chattanooga, 97-90 (W)
2004 -- vs. Chattanooga, 78-62 (W)

2007 -- vs. Belmont, 67-94 (L)

E-mail campaign, pre-game chants inspire Pigram

Having struggled through a tough five-game stretch in 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 ... The efforts worked, as Pigram was greeted with chants of "Let's go, CP" even before the tip ... He ultimately hit his first shot and scored 16 points that night ... Pigram has sense scored 38 points, 15 and 30 in his last three games.

Both Smith, Tiggs

eclipse 1,000 points;

Bucs have three 1,000

point scoreres

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 1,155 points for his career, and Smith is at 1,090 ... 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 2,017 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- 1987

Sam Mitchell Mer 1981-85 1986

Craig Beard Sam 1982-85 1985

Steve Barker Sam 1978-82 1902

More Notes on Pigram

* By passing Beard and/or Mitchell, it was a change in the top three scorers in A-Sun history for the first time in 25 years. The last time a season ended with the Top 3 not being Jackson, Mitchell and Beard was after the 1983-84 season. Also, if Pigram reaches 2,000, he would end the longest active drought for any DI conference between 2,000 point scorers.

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 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.