Bucs brace for crucial two-game swing through Nashville
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NASHVILLE (Jan. 21, 2010) -- The ETSU men's basketball team will begin its toughest stretch of Atlantic Sun Conference games so far this season when the Buccaneers take on Lipscomb Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. (EST) inside Allen Arena.

The Bucs (9-9 overall, 5-2 A-Sun) enter the weekend just one game back of first place in the loss column. However, ETSU will face Lipscomb and Belmont twice each over the next five games, with a home contest with first place Campbell sandwiched in on Jan. 27.

After Lipscomb at 8:30 on Thursday, the Bucs will meet Belmont at 5:30 on Saturday evening. The team will then return home for Campbell, followed by the same Lipscomb and Belmont teams at home the next weekend.

For more on this weekend's games, click on the game notes link above or read the game notes below.

Buc bits

Still in the thick of the Atlantic Sun Conference title hunt, the ETSU men¡¯s basketball team returns to action this weekend with a pair of road games in Nashville ... The Bucs went 1-1 in a pair of home games last week, finishing with a 22-point win over FGCU on Saturday ... The team now turns its attention to this weekend¡¯s critical trips to Lipscomb (Jan. 21) and Belmont (Jan. 23) ... The Bucs, 9-9 overall, 5-2 in league play, are tied for third in the league standings, but are just one game back in the loss column ... ETSU is currently 6-2 inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center this season, but is just 3-7 on the road this year ... Preseason All Atlantic Sun Conference pick Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) remains doubtful for the Lipscomb game after having missed the Bucs last nine contests, and is likely headed toward a medical redshirt season ... In Smith¡¯s absence, junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) have stepped up their games ¡­ In fact, Hubbard has posted double-doubles in eight of his last 17 games ... When he was picked A-Sun Player of the Week on Nov. ,30, he posted a career best 32-point effort against the Razorbacks and a game-high 25-point effort in the victory over UNF ... Meanwhile, Tubbs posted a career best 29 points against CofC and 21 against Arkansas, to go with nine rebounds ... Currently, Hubbard and Tubbs lead the team in scoring, with Hubbard averaging 14.7 points per game, and Tubbs pitching in 13.0 a contest.

The series against Lipscomb

The Bucs are 26-9 all-time against the Bisons, in a series that dates back to 1951, a time when both schools were not members of NCAA Division I ... ETSU lost the last meeting between the two schools, a 96-91 defeat last February in Nashville.

Last time against Lipscomb

NASHVILLE (Feb. 16, 2009) ¨C In a game full of technical fouls, rough play and wild momentum swings, the Lipscomb Bisons built an 18-point first half lead and finally put an end to ETSU¡¯s seven-game win streak in the series with a 96-91 victory in Atlantic Sun Conference play inside Allen Arena ... The Bisons (12-13 overall, 8-8 A-Sun) won for the fourth straight contest, while the Buccaneers (17-10, 11-5) dropped their third straight. Even with the loss, the Bucs still remain one game out of first place in the A-Sun, as Jacksonville was upset by Campbell earlier in the evening ... The first half was eerily similar to the first meeting earlier this season at Memorial Center, when Lipscomb hit on seven 3-pointers and held a 45-30 advantage at the break. In this game, the Bisons again hit on seven long-range shots in the first half, connected on 57 percent of their field goal attempts and out-rebounded the Bucs 21-14 on their way to a 47-32 edge at the break ... With the game tied at 17-17, Lipscomb then went on a 22-4 run to make it 39-21 and in the midst of that surge Tiggs picked up his third foul of the game with 8:02 left in the half. While the senior forward sat on the bench things only got worse, but his return to the lineup with under four minutes left in the half resulted in seven straight points and at least helped the Bucs to a manageable deficit at the break ... In the second half, the Bucs roared back with their patented full court defense and wild transition game. Those efforts led to ETSU making it 72-70 when senior Courtney Pigram (Memphis) nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing with 5:31 remaining. However, from there a technical foul on Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and another technical on Bartow moments later allowed Lipscomb to pull back out to a 79-70 advantage with 3:34 left ... The Bucs tried again to rally and even with the score 92-79 with 36 seconds left, the Bucs went on a 12-2 run to cut it to 94-91 with 2.2 seconds left. In the end, Lipscomb¡¯s Jimmy Oden hit two foul shots to ice the game ... For the Bucs, Tiggs scored a game-high 26 points and actually eclipsed 1,000 points for his career with a layup at the 2:08 mark of the first half. Along with Tiggs, junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) posted his sixth career double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. In addition, freshman guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) had 10 points, and sophomore guard Tommy Hubbard (Boston) returned from injury to post eight rebounds and go 8-of-8 from the line.

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 16, 2010) ¨C In need of a bounce back performance, the ETSU men¡¯s basketball used a tenacious defensive effort to hold Florida Gulf Coast to just 10 points in the first half and ultimately cruised to a decisive 73-51 victory in Atlantic Sun Conference play Saturday afternoon at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center ... The Buccaneers (9-9 overall, 5-2 A-Sun) ultimately forced the Eagles (5-12 overall, 2-6 A-Sun) into 26 turnovers and grabbed 11 steals, and held FGCU to 35 percent shooting from the floor and 23 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Meanwhile, the Bucs got a game-high 21 points from junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), and junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) pitched in 15 in the winning effort ... The Bucs, who remain just one game back in the loss column for first place in the league, will now prepare for an important two-game road swing through Nashville next weekend. The Bucs will meet Lipscomb on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m., followed by a Saturday afternoon matchup with Belmont at 5:30 p.m. ... In the first half, ETSU fell behind 5-3 when a Reggie Chambers 3-pointer found the bottom of the net. However, from there the Bucs turned up the defensive pressure and used its trapping zone defense to stymie the Eagles. ETSU ultimately used a 17-0 run to power a strong first half and outscored FGCU 31-5 the rest of the half to lead 34-10 at the break ... It was the lowest first-half point total for an ETSU opponent this season ... The second half was no different, as the Bucs¡¯ advantage grew to as many as 33 points at 65-32 with 7:30 left in the contest. The Eagles battled back to cut the final deficit down to 22, but could not manage a significant comeback.

New-look zone defense powers win streak

Since developing a new, attacking-style zone defense, the Buccaneers have won four of their last six games ... The stats back up the zone¡¯s effectiveness, especially while winning three straight games from Dec. 21 to Jan. 9, as ETSU has held opponents to 35 percent shooting from the floor and just 59.3 points per game ... In addition, the Bucs are also outrebounding opponents by more than seven boards a game in that stretch.


Smith status still in doubt

Though he has played in four games this season and most recently scored a season high 14 points against UAB (12/4), senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) continues to battle nagging injuries ... This has left his status for the rest of the year in doubt, and in fact, he is likely headed toward a medical redshirt season.

Williams bringing more offense to the table

Junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) has worked his way into the starting lineup thanks mainly to back-to-back strong efforts on the offensive end ... Against North Georgia, Williams posted a career high 22 points in leading the Bucs to the win, and he followed that effort with an 18-point night against Murray State ... He has scored in double figures in seven of his last nine games ... Currently, Williams is one of three Bucs averaging double figures scoring this year with 10.7 points per game.

Hubbard steps up game, averaging near double-double

Much has been written and reported about junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and his efforts to improve his offensive game, and those strides have led to some solid numbers ... Already considered one of the best defenders in the A-Sun, Hubbard posted a 32-point and 10-rebound effort in the win over Arkansas and dropped in another game-high 26 in the win over UNF ... He currently leads the Bucs with 14.7 points per game and 8.5 rebounds a contest ... while he has posted double-doubles in eight of the last 17 games, his efforts began to pay off on the offensive end against Chattanooga back on Nov. 17 ... Setting career bests for points (26) and rebounds (13), Hubbard collected his first career double-double against the Mocs ... In addition, he hit his first 3-point shot in three seasons with the Bucs, and didn¡¯t stop there -- ultimately finishing with four long-range bombs on the night.

Record setting night from the arc for Bucs

Hitting on 11-of-14 shots from 3-point range against Arkansas, the Bucs put their name in a multiple of record books ... First, those numbers set a new school record for 3-point field goal percentage in a game with a 78.6 percent mark, breaking the previous record of 66.7 percent which had been done three times previously ... In addition, it was the best shooting effort in the "nation" this season for teams taking more than 10 shots in a game ... And it was the best percentage by a team in the A-Sun since Nov. 28, 1999 when UCF was 11-of-14 in a game against South Carolina state.

Sollazzo to honor Coy with number change

When ETSU¡¯s rising sophomore forward Seth Coy (Montgomery, Ind.) was tragically killed in a car accident this summer, it left the entire Buccaneer community with a deep sense of loss ... As is often the case, those that are left to mourn have looked for ways to remember the Bucs¡¯ 6-foot-11 "Gentle Giant." ... For sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), who was Coy¡¯s roommate, the answer was simple ... Changing his jersey number from No. 20 to Coy¡¯s No. 43, Sollazzo will play the 2009-10 season to honor his friend and have that memory with him each night.

Home Sweet Dome

Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 134-41 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 77 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 ... In 2008-09, the Bucs were again 11-2 at home ... This season, ETSU is 4-2 in the Dome and 1-0 in Brooks Gym.

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.