Bucs, Mocs set to renew longtime rivalry
Monday, November 16, 2009

CHATTANOOGA (Nov 17, 2009) -- Following an emotionally draining win over Appalachian State last Saturday, the ETSU men's basketball team faces a stretch of four games in eight days beginning Tuesday night against arch rival Chattanooga inside McKenzie Arena. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

Facing a former Southern Conference foe for the second straight game, the Bucs -- who continue to face challenges from an injury standpoint -- will hope to continue to get strong play from its bench. Against the Mountaineers, ETSU's starters scored only 21 points, while players such as sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.), and freshman guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa), all scored in double figures coming off the bench.

As in years past, this battle is expected to be a good one. For more on the game click on the game notebook link above, or read the game notes below.


The series against Chattanooga

In what is widely considered the longest and most heated rivalry in ETSU basketball history, the Bucs and Mocs have met 74 times with ETSU trailing the all-time series 33 to 41 ... The two teams shared the same conference from 1979 to 2005, spending several years battling in the Southern Conference ... The Bucs won the meeting last year, 82-70 inside Memorial Center ... That game is just one of many dramatic moments in this series, which includes wins by ETSU in the 1991, 1992, 2003 and 2004 Southern Conference Tournament championship game.


Last time out against the Mocs


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 17, 2008) - In a battle that live up to the rivalries long and storied history, senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) scored 30-plus points for the third time in four games and fellow senior Courtney Pigram (Memphis) added 24 as the ETSU men's basketball team dropped in-state foe Chattanooga 82-70 in non-conference action at Memorial Center ... A crowd of 3,102 watched the Bucs move to 7-3 on the season, while the Mocs dropped to 1-7 on the year. With the win, ETSU improved to a perfect 3-0 against former Southern Conference foes Marshall, Appalachian State and Chattanooga ... Tiggs finished with a career and game high 32 points, meaning the senior has now scored 115 points in his last four games - Marshall (31), Mercer (21), Appalachian State (31) and Chattanooga (32). Meanwhile, Pigram posted a 20-plus point game for the fifth time this season, while Smith scored in double figures (10) for the ninth time in 10 games this year. The Bucs shot 48 percent from the floor and held UTC to just a 31 percent clip on the night ... The Mocs opened the game on fire from the field, producing a 10-2 offensive run to build a 21-10 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the half and causing Bartow to take a 30-second timeout to stem the tide. It worked, and ETSU responded by outscoring the Mocs 21-10 over the next nine minutes to tie the game at 31-31 with six minutes left on the clock ... ETSU then used another 10-0 run to take the lead at 41-36 with two minutes left in the half, but Chattanooga responded and a layup by Keyron Sheard tied the game 41-41 at the break ... As they did at Appalachian State, the Buccaneers opened the second half with a flurry on the offensive end, highlighted by a three from Pigram, as well as a three and dunk by Tiggs. The result was a 16-4 start to the half and a 57-45 ETSU advantage with 16:45 left in the game ... However, with Tiggs in foul trouble and on the bench with four personals, UTC slowly chipped away at the Bucs' lead over the next 11 minutes and manufactured a 7-0 run to make it a 68-67 game with just over four minutes left. A basket by Tiggs broke the string and made it 70-67, and from there a pair of free throws by Smith and another four straight from Tiggs made it 76-67 with just over a minute left in the game. The run ended Chattanooga's hopes for a win. 


Last time out


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 14, 2009) - On a Homecoming day full of emotion, the ETSU men's basketball team made the plays it needed to make in the final minutes to outlast rival Appalachian State 62-58 in the 2009-10 season opener Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Center ... In a game that began with a memorial service for former ETSU center Seth Coy (Washington, Ind.), who tragically died in a car accident last summer, the Buccaneers were the recipients of a fortuitous intentional foul call with a minute left in regulation and capitalized at the foul line with five makes in six tries to pick up the victory. A crowd of 5,562 fans looked on as sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa, Fla.) - who roomed with Coy and now wears his No. 43 jersey - hit two of those free tosses with 16.2 seconds left to help ice the game ... Prior to the game, over 50 people from Coy's hometown were on the Memorial Center floor, and Bartow presented his mother with a framed jersey. Those emotions seemed to wear on both the Bucs and Mountaineers, who struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first half ... In the first 20 minutes of play, the Bucs shot just 34 percent from the field and ASU hit on just 41 percent. At the intermission, it was tied 27-27 and the two teams had combined for 21 turnovers (13 for Appalachian and eight for the ETSU) ... The game saw 10 ties and nine lead changes, and the second half followed that trend throughout. ETSU's largest lead was six points and it came with 12:09 left in regulation, but the Mountaineers battled back to regain the advantage at 50-49 with 6:17 remaining. ETSU led 57-56 when the call of the game was made, as ASU's Isaac Butts was slapped with an intentional foul call as ETSU junior Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) was slashing to the basket. Tubbs hit both shots to make it 59-56, but not until Sollazzo's two free throws made it 61-58 and ASU's Ryann Abraham missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with seven seconds left did the Bucs feel safe ... Junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) hit one of two foul shots with five seconds left to make it a four-point game and give the Bucs the win ... With only 21 points of offense from its starters, the Bucs got a great effort from true freshman Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) and Tubbs, both of whom came off the bench to score 11 points each. Meanwhile, Sollazzo and his No. 43 jersey fittingly led the Bucs in scoring with 13 points ... For the game, ETSU held ASU to just 41 percent shooting and forced 25 turnovers.


Sollazzo steps up on night ETSU honors Coy


Before the start of Saturday's Homecoming game against Appalachian State, the ETSU community honored the memory of former center Seth Coy, who died in a car accident last summer ... His former roommate and friend, Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), now wears Coy's No. 43 jersey and against the Mountaineers he played inspired basketball ... Sollazzo set a career high with 13 points and hit two critical foul shots in the final seconds to lift the Bucs to a victory.


Bench play critical in win over Mountaineers


With only 21 points of offensive production from its starting five on Saturday, the Bucs got a huge lift from its bench against the Mountaineers ... All three ETSU players to reach double figures -- Adam Sollazzo (13), Justin Tubbs (11) and Sheldon Cooley (11) -- all came off the bench, and the Bucs got a total of 41 from the reserves as a whole ... With injuries costing the Bucs several offensive weapons, look for ETSU to continue to count on contributions from the bench.


Big questions surround Bucs entering 2009-10


With the loss of seniors Courtney Pigram and Kevin Tiggs -- one of the most dynamic offensive duos in the country -- the Bucs have a lot of questions to answer on the offenisve end of the floor this season  ... Having averaged 78.1 points a game a year ago, which ranked 21st nationally in all of Division I play -- ETSU has lost 44.0 of those points to graduation when one includes now departed senior Greg Hamlin in that trio ... In addition to the losses on offensive, the Bucs' 13-man roster includes just eight players who have experienced actual floor time in college ... The other five players are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or walk-ons.


Turnovers key for Bucs during recent success


Since winning five of their last six games a year ago and their two exhibition games this season, the Buccaneers are showing why their focus on defense is so important ... Most coaches believe that team's should score at least one point to every single turnover they force ... For the Bucs, this number has been much higher ... In their last six games a year ago, the Bucs forced 103 turnovers and scored 132 points off those opponent mistakes ... This is an average of 22 points off 17 turnovers a game -- well over the ratio most coaches desire ... If one adds in this year's two exhibition games, those numbers go to 25 points off 19 turnovers.


Preseason polls pick Bucs middle of the pack


The ETSU men's basketball team was picked fourth by the Atlantic Sun Conference coaches and fifth by the league's media in preseason polls release Wednesday by the conference office ... The conference's two most recent tournament champions, ETSU (2009) and Belmont (2006-08) place fourth and fifth, depending on the poll. The Buccaneers edged out the Bruins for the spot from the coaches while the media gave the nod the Bruins. Both teams suffered tremendous losses due to graduation. ETSU must replace Courtney Pigram (Memphis) and Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), one of the highest scoring duos in the nation a season ago.


ETSU the "only" A-Sun team picked among nation's best "Prestige" programs


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.