NASHVILLE (March 6, 2009) -- The ETSU men's basketball team and its Atlantic Sun rival Belmont have been here before. The Buccaneers hope the results are different this time.
For the third straight year, the Bucs and Bruins will meet in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships, and for the second season in a row the two will meet in a Friday night semifinal matchup inside Allen Arena. In this same game a year ago, a last minute technical foul call on former Buc Kenyona Swader ultimately gave Belmont the lead and resulted in a heartbreaking loss for the Bucs.
ETSU (21-10) enters this game on a three-game winning streak in which the team has enjoyed large margins of victory. Meanwhile, the Bruins come into the contest after losing a tough regular season finale that gave Jacksonville the league title, and then needed a miracle basket with .2 seconds remaining to get a 65-64 win over Mercer in Thursday's A-Sun quarterfinals.
For more on the matchup, click on the game notes link above or read the notes below:
The Bucs All-Time in the A-Sun Tournament
Entering just their fourth Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, the Buccaneers are 3-3 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 33-21, having gone 6-3 in league championship finals.
Last time out in the A-Sun Tournament
NASHVILLE (March 4, 2009) - The seventh-seeded Stetson Hatters gave the ETSU men's basketball team a scare, but senior Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) scored a career-high 37 points and junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) posted his ninth career double-double to give the Buccaneers a 88-76 win in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship quarterfinals Wednesday night inside Allen Arena on the campus of Lipscomb University ... With the win, ETSU (21-10 overall) advances to Friday night's semifinals to face the winner of Thursday's Belmont-Mercer quarterfinal matchup ... The first half was dominated by Tiggs, as the first team All A-Sun pick went off for 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor. His efforts were enough to stake the Bucs to a 37-33 halftime lead, but the advantage could have been more if not for Stetson's strong shooting from beyond the arc. The Hatters hit 6-of-13 long range bombs and were 5-of-6 from the foul line to keep the Bucs within reach at the break ... In the second half, ETSU's fullcourt press finally began to take a toll on the Hatters, as the Bucs opened on a 19-7 run in the first six minutes and built its lead to 56-40 with just over 14 minutes left in regulation. However, Stetson responded with an 8-0 burst of its own to get the game back to single digits at 56-48 with 11 minutes remaining ... Stetson later made the game 64-59 on an A.J. Smith 3-pointer from the wing with 7:20 left, but that would be as close as the Hatters would get the rest of the game as ETSU outscored them 26-17 the rest of the way ... While Tiggs scored 37, Smith posted 19 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) added 15. Pigram's 15 moved with to 1,987 points for his career, which moved him to No. 2 on the A-Sun's all-time scoring list and just one point shy of former ETSU great Keith "Mister" Jennings for third place on the Bucs scoring list. For Stetson, A.J. Smith led the way with 24 points, while Tim Lang added 18, Mark Lohuis pitched in 11 and Garfield Blair posted 10.
Last time against Belmont in the A-Sun Tournament
NASHVILLE (March 7, 2008) - What may be one of the most controversial foul calls in Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament history highlighted a nightmarish final seven minutes for the ETSU men's basketball team, as the Buccaneers watched a 10-point advantage vanish in the final minutes Friday night of a 69-65 loss to rival Belmont inside the Allen Arena ... Leading 63-53 with 6:22 remaining in the game, Belmont went on an 11-2 run to make it 65-64 with 1:22 left on the clock. From there, the Bucs and Bruins made defensive stops, but with less than 30 seconds left a mad scramble on the floor ultimately ended with senior Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) being fouled by Belmont's Andy Wicke with just 17 seconds left. Following the whistle, official Doug Sirmons called a technical foul on Swader ... The end result was Belmont's Justin Hare hitting a pair of free throws on the technical to give Belmont the lead, and Swader later missed the front end of his one-and-one. ETSU was forced to foul at that point and ultimately took the loss ... The foul call tarnished what was otherwise a great game for Swader, who finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds to post his fourth career double-double. As a team, the Bucs had also managed to stall the Belmont offense, which had thrived against ETSU en route to a 5-1 record over the last six meetings. On this night, the Bruins hit on just 33 percent of their shots and were 9-of-39 from 3-point range (23 percent). But it was still not enough, as the Bucs finished the year 19-13 overall.
Troubles "A Bruin"
A quick look at the last four year's results for ETSU and there's no doubt the Bucs have had trouble with Belmont ... The Bucs are 2-8 against their A-Sun in-state rivals since joining the league in 2005 ... Three of those games were won easily by Belmont, with the Bucs owning a 30-point blowout win over Belmont earlier this season in Johnson City ... The other six have been tight affairs, with three going to overtime and the Bruins hitting 3-pointers in the final seconds of two of those games to win ... Here is a breakdown of those meetings
Date Result Site
Dec. 1, 2005 Belmont 88-85 (OT) Johnson City
Feb. 26, 2006 Belmont 99, ETSU 78 Nashville
Jan. 2, 2007 Belmont 75, ETSU 74 (OT) Johnson City
Jan. 25, 2007 ETSU 80, Belmont 70 (OT) Nashville
March 3, 2007 Belmont 94, ETSU 67 * Johnson City
Jan. 17, 2008 Belmont 86, ETSU 83 Nashville
Feb. 14, 2008 Belmont 87, ETSU 75 Johnson City
March 7, 2008 Belmont 69, ETSU 65 * Nashville
Jan. 19, 2009 ETSU 87, Belmont 57 Johnson City
Feb. 14, 2009 Belmont 76, ETSU 73 Nashville
* -- Game played at Lipscomb in A-Sun Tournament
Pigram near 2,000 pts.; could join exclusive A-Sun club
With 1,987 points, senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) needs just 13 points to reach the 2,000-point mark ... And if Pigram scored just two more points he would pass for ETSU great Keith "Mister" Jennings for third on the program's all-time scoring list ... If he reaches this plateau, Pigram would join an exclusive group in A-Sun play ... Below is a run down of the league's top scorers all-time, as well as some other interesting notes about the feat.
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
* If Pigram passes Beard and/or Mitchell, it would mean 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 in conferencetournament 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)
Both Smith, Tiggs eclipse 1,000 points; Bucs have three 1,000-point scoreres on the same team
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 1,134 points for his career, and Smith is at 1,071 ... 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.
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.