Bucs set to open A-Sun play with trip to USC Upstate
Bucs set to open A-Sun play with trip to USC Upstate
Saturday, December 4, 2010

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Dec. 5, 2010)
-- Still riding high after an impressive non-conference road win over Atlantic 10 Conference foe Dayton, the ETSU men's basketball team plays one that "really" matters on Sunday, as the Buccaneers open Atlantic Sun Conference play with a trip to league opponent USC Upstate. The tip is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. in the G.B. Hodge Center.

The Bucs (3-2) are playing the second game in a month-long, eight-game road trip, which will see them play twice in the state of South Carolina over a three day stretch. ETSU will move on from USC Upstate to take on former Southern Conference rival College of Charleston on Tuesday at 7 p.m. That game will air on regional cable thanks to CSS.

While ETSU has never lost to USC Upstate, the Bucs have not enjoyed easy battles with the Spartans. In fact, ETSU won by a single point last season at USC Upstate, and then had to overcome an 18-point deficit to defeat the Spartans in the Dome later that same year.

For more on Sunday's game, read the game notes below or click on the game note link.

We are "ETSU"

The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would like to ask both the print and broadcast media to honor our request to be called "ETSU" ... East Tennessee State in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.


Buc bits

The ETSU men's basketball team only added to its rich history of success during the 2009-10 season, capturing its second straight Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and earning the program's ninth trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament ... Posting the program's fourth 20-win season in the past seven years, the Bucs overcame multiple challenges during the season before dropping Mercer in the A-Sun finals ... The Bucs were led by a team of "role" players that included forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.), guard Micah Williams (Manchester), guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa, Fla.), post Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), and post J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.) ... Hubbard finished the year as a second team All ASun player after leading the Bucs in both scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg), and was named to the league's All-Tournament squad ... Meanwhile, Williams finished the year on a tear, scoring in double figures in 11 straight games, including a 32-point effort against Campbell en route to being named the A-Sun Tournament MVP ... Only losing senior guard Jocolby Davis off the roster from 2009-10, the Bucs will add Smith back to the mix after receiving a medical redshirt a year ago, and a trio of incoming recruits will also add to the talent pool ... For those reasons, there is certainly reason to be excited and expectations will be high.


The series versus USC Upstate

ETSU leads the all-time series against USC Upstate 6-0 ... However, the Bucs have had some close games with the Spartans, including a 63-62 win at Spartanburg, S.C., back on Jan. 4 of this year ... The Bucs also had to overcome an 18-point deficit to beat the Spartains 63-56 back on Feb. 21.


Last time out against USC Upstate

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 21, 2010) - Trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half and allowing USC Upstate to shoot a blistering 63 percent from the floor before the intermission, the ETSU men's basketball team put the clamps on defensively in the second half and rallied for a 63-56 victory in Atlantic Sun Conference action at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center ... Behind 56-51 with 4:08 left in the game, ETSU outscored the Spartans 12-0 to close out the contest, as junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) hit a 3-pointer with 1:44 left to make it 59-56 in favor of the Bucs. The Spartans were held to just 30 percent shooting in the second half and ETSU outscored Upstate 34-19 in the final 20 minutes to get the win. ... The player of the game for ETSU was freshman forward J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.), who despite not scoring a point in the contest still grabbed 12 rebounds, and managed to stop the Spartans' 7-foot center Nick Schneiders on the offensive end. Prior to Ward being inserted into the game, Shneiders had scored 16 first-half points, and was ultimately held to just 22 for the game. ... Early in the game, the Bucs had literally no answer for the Spartans' offense. Schneiders scored basically at will, and from the outside Upstate hit on 5-of-9 from 3-point range to build a lead of 37-19 with just over three minutes left in the half. However, the Bucs showed signs of life at that point, cutting the lead to 37-29 thanks to a 10-0 run to close out the half. ... In the second half, the Spartans again pulled out to a 13-point edge at 44-31 on a Schneiders' layup with 17:21 left in the game. ETSU rallied once more with a 15-4 run to pull within two at 48-46 with 9:36 remaining on the clock. ... Though Upstate scored the next four points to make it 52-46 with just over six minutes left, the Bucs turned it on and outscored the Spartans 17-4 the rest of the way to take the victory.


Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 1, 2010) - Behind the brilliant offensive performances of senior guards Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.), Micah Williams (Manchester) and Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), the ETSU men's basketball team began a month-long road trip in style, handing Atlantic 10 Conference member Dayton its first non-conference home loss since 2005 with a 73-68 win inside the UD Arena. ... Tubbs posted a career-best seven 3-pointers on way to a season high 26 points, while Smith pitched in 17 points and Williams added 16. Smith's 7-of-8 effort from the foul line in the final 42 seconds iced what was a two-point game at 66-64. ... Dayton (5-2) was held to just 33 percent shooting on the night, while the Bucs hit on 48 percent from the field - including an impressive 41 percent mark from beyond the arc. The Bucs also held their own on the boards against a solid rebounding squad, as the Flyers held just a 41-39 edge in the paint. ... The Bucs raced out to an early 17-3 lead over the first five minutes, but ultimatley trailed 38-33 at the break. ... At this point, Williams took over. ... Scoring 10 straight points in the opening minutes of the half, Williams' solo attack made it 43-40 with 16:48 left and forced a Dayton timeout. The break didn't help the Flyers stop the Bucs' momentum, as Tubbs then got back into the action by hitting another two 3-pointers, and a layup by forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) finished off an 18-2 run that put the Bucs back up 51-40 with 13:46 left in the game. ... But just as in the first half, Dayton responded to the Bucs' offensive rush with a pair of threes from Chris Johnson and enjoyed an 8-0 run to make it 51-48 with just over 10 minutes left ... ETSU weathered that storm and slowly built a lead of as many as nine at 64-55 with 1:35 left, but Dayton put the Bucs at the line. Poor foul shooting down the stretch allowed the Flyers to get to within two at 66-64 with 44 seconds left, but at that point Smith would hit 7-of-8 foul shots and ETSU got the defensive stops it needed to get the win.


Plans, trains and automobiles await Bucs

The Bucs find themselves in the midst of a month-long road trip that will see the team play a total of eight games away from the ETSU/MSHA Atheltic Center ... Trips to Dayton, Ohio, Charleston, S.C., Starkville, Miss., Oxford, Miss., and Cancun, Mexico await ... In all, the Bucs will travlel 3,776 miles by bus and 1,906 miles by plane during this time ... In total, it will amount to 5,682 miles and 67 hours/33 minutes of travel time.


Bartow among best in the country over last five years

When looking at coaches across the country, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow stands among a select group ... Of those coaches that have been at their current school for at least five years, only 24 have averaged better than 20 wins a season ... That list includes coaches such as Dayton's Brian Gregory, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, UConn's Jim Calhoun, Florida's Billy Donovan, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Duke's Mike Kryzewski, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Kansas' Bill Self, Maryland's Gary Williams and North Carolina's Roy Williams ... The list also includes Bartow, who is average 20.2 wins a year since 2005-06.

ETSU duo chasing

1,000-point mark

While senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) is already a member of the 1,000-point club, two other seniors have outside shots at making it to the group:

Name Current Points

Tommy Hubbard 567

Micah Williams 743

With those point totals, Hubbard would have to average just over 14 points a game this season to reach 1,000, while Williams would need to average 10 points a game to reach the mark.


Defense shines despite offensive woes

While much has been made of the Bucs poor offensive effort against Murray State, the squad's defensive effort was superb and encouraging ... Utilizing a new 3-2 zone, the Bucs held Murray State to just 50 points, which is the second time this "calendar" year the Bucs have held a team to less than 50 -- the last time coming Feb. 25, 2010 at North Florida (61-46) ... The Bucs are currently allowing 64.2 points per game in three contests, which includes allowing just 60 points against Tennessee Tech ... Against the Racers, the Bucs also forced 16 turnovers, out-rebounded Murray State 39-30, and held them to 37.8 percent shooting.


Bucs counting on "experience edge"

If the Bucs will be looking for any edge this season, they will find it in the experience department ... All told, the Bucs have 33 years of previous college experience on its 15-man roster, a group that includes players with multiple years of experience like three fifth-year seniors (Mike Smith, Micah Williams and Justin Tubbs), and a fourth-year junior (Isiah Brown).


Smith happy to be back on the floor with Bucs

One year ago, the Bucs were forced to play all put four games without the services of guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) due to an injury However, Smith is back and brings his 1,221 career points with him Without Smith, the Bucs struggled to score points last season (69.3 points per game) and relied heavily on its defensive efforts to win games This year, the Bucs hope to continue to hold team's down offensively, while returning to their normal "high scoring" ways ... In his return game against Kentucky, Smith netted 15 points, and he recently followed up that performance with a career high 26 points against Tennessee Tech


ETSU "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 - 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 ESPN.com's "Prestige" ranking released back in 2008 ... Since that time, the Bucs have only added to their list of prestigious honors The Buccaneers, who have enjoyed nine NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT berth, 10 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. In addition, the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn.