MACON, Ga. (Dec. 5, 2008) -- The ETSU men's basketball team will open Atlantic Sun Conference play Friday night, facing Mercer on the road inside the University Center at 7:30 p.m. ASun.TV will air the game on live video streaming, while the Mountain States Health Alliance Buccaneer Sports Network will provide the live radio call and free audio broadcast at ETSUBucs.com.
The Buccaneers (4-3) are 5-0 all-time against the Bears, but this season Mercer has shown an impressive improvement from years past, going 5-2 in non-conference play and defeating SEC schools Auburn and Alabama.
For more on the game and ETSU's season to this point, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook above.
A seven-time NCAA Tournament and two-time NIT participant, the ETSU Buccaneers enter the 2008-09 season having come up just one win shy of the 20-win mark in 2007-08 and looking to avenge a hard fought loss to Belmont in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament ... With a 19-13 overall mark and a third place finish in regular season league action (11-5) a year ago, the Bucs return their top two and three of their top six scorers from a year ago, led by first-team All Atlantic Sun selection Courtney Pigram (Memphis) ... The 6-1 guard will begin his senior campaign with 1,445 career points after having averaged a team-leading 15.8 points, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals a game last year .... Pigram will be joined by senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), who helped power the offense with 14.6 points and a team-high 2.9 offensive rebounds a game last season en route to earning second team All A-Sun honors.
The series against Mercer
This will be the sixth meeting between the Bucs and the Bears, with ETSU holding a perfect 5-0 mark against their A-Sun foe ... The two teams first met in 2005-06, the Bucs first season in the Atlantic Sun ... In their last meeting on Feb. 1, 2008, the Bucs held on for an 85-79 win inside Memorial Center.
Last time against Mercer
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 1, 2008) - After watching a nine-point lead dwindle to one with just over three minutes left, the ETSU men's basketball team made enough foul shots and senior Andrew Reed drained a clutch 3-pointer in the final minutes as the Buccaneers outlasted Mercer, 85-79, in Atlantic Sun Conference play inside Memorial Center ... The crowd of 5,193 looked on as the Bucs won for the fourth time in a row and improved their season record to 12-9 overall, 6-2 in A-Sun action. Meanwhile, Mercer fell to 9-12, 4-4 ... ETSU was led by junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), who picked up his third career double-double with a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, while senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) netted a season high 22 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) was the only other Buccaneer in double figures, picking up 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals ... In an offensive first half, the Bucs and Bears combined to score 84 points and both teams shot over 40 percent from 3-point range. Mercer took the early advantage and held a lead of as many as five points thanks to a 3-point play from Brian Pfohl that made it 26-21 with 9:15 remaining before the break. From there, though, ETSU went on a 23-7 run of its own thanks to a 3-point barrage from senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) and senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) that made it 44-33. Mercer would not let the Bucs enjoy cushion, outscoring them 7-0 to close the half and make it 44-40 at the break ... ETSU did not relinquish its lead in the second half, but after building a lead of as many as nine points, the Bears offense hit its stride and managed an 8-0 run to make it 76-75 with 3:10 remaining on the clock. From there, Tiggs hit a pair of free throws and Reed sank his 3-pointer from the right wing to build enough of an advantage to hold on for the win.
Last time out
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (Dec. 2, 2008) - Make no mistake, ETSU senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) loves playing the Marshall Thundering Herd ... Though junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) iced the Buccaneers 76-72 win over Marshall thanks to a pair of free throws with 5.6 seconds left Tuesday night inside Cam Henderson Center, it was Tiggs' game and career-high 31 points that powered ETSU to the victory. In three career games against the Thundering Herd, Tiggs - who was heavily recruited by Marshall - has scored 81 points, having combined to score 50 against Marshall in two meetings during the 2007-08 season ... Led by Tiggs' 13-of-18 shooting effort, the Bucs hit an impressive 55 percent of their shots from the field, and were 46.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. In addition, ETSU also held its own against the Herd inside, being out-rebounded just 32-26, but outscoring the Herd 42-16 in the paint. Tiggs was joined in double figures by Smith, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) had a game high six assists ... The second half started in nightmare fashion for the Bucs, with Marshall going on a 16-4 run to take the lead 49-46 on a 3-pointer by Damier Pitts with 13:20 left in the game. The Bucs responded and retook the lead thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from freshman guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis), with the second coming at the 11:52 mark and making the score 52-50 in favor of ETSU. The Bucs extended the lead to 59-53 with 7:8:30 left on a short jumper by Smith, but the Herd came right back and later took the lead 65-64 on a 3-pointer by Shaquille Johnson with 3:41 left ... The Bucs responded though, going on a 7-0 run to make it 71-65 when a layup by freshman post Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) found the bottom of the net with 39 seconds remaining. From there, Tiggs scored on a layup, hit a foul shot, and Smith ended the game with two from the charity stripe ... Brown and senior forward Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) also played well for the Bucs. Brown finished with six points and six rebounds, while Hamlin had eight points, five boards and four assists.
Tiggs tramples Thundering Herd -- Again
Senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) will never again play against Marshall -- and the Thundering Herd could not be happier ... In three career games against the Herd, Tiggs combined to score a remarkable 81 points, including 31 in the Buccaneers' 76-72 win on Tuesday night ... A year ago, Tiggs posted 24 and 26 points in two games against the Herd ... Having been recruited by Marshall out of junior college, the Bucs were certainly glad to have Tiggs in a blue and gold uniform against Marshall.
Bartow just one win shy of 100th victory at ETSU;
recently eclipsed 200 career wins with Wingate victory
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow reached 200 career coaching wins as the Buccaneers defeated Wingate (11/20) earlier this week ... Bartow is now 202-146 for his career, a 59 percent winning percentage ... Bartow, the son of legendary coach Gene Bartow, is also 99-64 (.604) at ETSU, leaving him just one shy of 100 with the Buccaneers ... In his previous five seasons at ETSU, Bartow has averaged 19 wins a year.
Hamlin, Brown step up in Coy's absence
After freshman Seth Coy (Montgomery, Ind.) earned a spot in the Bucs' starting five, there was a lot of hope for the 6-11 post ... However, after a foot injury sidelined Coy for the Tennessee Tech game, the Bucs turned to 6-7 senior forward Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) and 6-8 freshman post Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) to step in and pick up the slack ... The two responded in a fine fashion ... Hamlin posted his career best game, scoring eight points, grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out three assists and blocking three shots ... Meanwhile, Brown posted eight points and five boards ... The coaches would take a combined 16 points and 12 rebounds from the duo each night ... Against Marshall, the two combined for 14 points and 11 rebounds ... The Bucs are 2-1 since Brown and Hamlin were inserted into the starting lineup, with the two combining for a double-double in the two victories.
ETSU picked among nation's best
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (July 22, 2008) - 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 - the ETSU men's basketball program 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 ... The Buccaneers, who have enjoyed six NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT berth, seven 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 was 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 also were placed ahead of every current 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 major programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.
Pigram makes history with triple-double
With his 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Wingate (11/20), senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) became just the second ETSU player to record a triple-double and the first to reach that special feat in NCAA Division I play this season ... He joins former Buc Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) on that exclusive list at ETSU ... In Atlantic Sun Conference play, Pigram is just the sixth player to accomplish that feat since 1996-97, and he is the first to post a triple-double against a non-conference opponent ... A full list of those players can be found below:
A-Sun Triple Doubles
Player School Date Opp Pt-Rb-Ast
Courtney Pigram ETSU 11/20/08 Wingate 21-10-10
Tim Smith ETSU 1/25/06 KSU 21-10-10
Damitrius Coleman Mercer 2/27/05 JU 13-14-14
Damitrius Coleman Mercer 1/03/05 FAU 14-12-11
Kingsley Edwards UCF 1/16/05 Troy 10-10-14
Dexter Lyons UCF 1/11/03 Troy 14-13-10
Smith stepping up in junior year
In his first seven games this season, 6-foot-6 junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) has done his part and then some ... Currently, Smith is third on the team 13.9 points per game and is averaging a team-best 7.1 rebounds a game ... Smith is shooting 46 percent from the floor and has posted a team-best 2.3 steals per game ... Smith, who has scored 696 points in his career, was named a team captain and has fit that role well.
Non-conference home win streak at 18
Over the last five seasons, the Bucs have fared well against non-conference opponents within the confines of Memorial Center ... In fact, the Bucs have won 18 straight non-conference home games since losing a 90-73 contest to Fresno State back on Nov. 27, 2004 ... ETSU has wins over teams such as Marshall (twice), Tennessee Tech (twice), Chattanooga, Central Michigan, Morehead State, UNC Asheville, Eastern Kentucky, Radford and Appalachian State during that time frame.
Home Sweet Dome
Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 119-38 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 championship of the A-Sun Tourney... In 2007-08, the Bucs were 11-2 at Memorial Center.