Bucs, Bears set for rematch of A-Sun title game Monday in Macon, Ga.
Bucs, Bears set for rematch of A-Sun title game Monday in Macon, Ga.
Sunday, January 2, 2011

MACON, Ga. (Jan. 3, 2011)
- With a goal of matching its longest win streak of the season, the ETSU men's basketball team will be looking for its third consecutive victory Monday evening when the Buccaneers take to the road to face Atlantic Sun Conference foe Mercer inside the University Center. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.

This game will be a rematch of the 2010 A-Sun Tournament finals, which the Bucs won 72-66 to earn its second straight and ninth trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament. Currently, the Bucs are 6-7 overall, 1-1 in league play, while Mercer is 3-10, 0-2.

For more on Monday's game, click on the game notebook above or read the notes below. For more on ETSU men's basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com.

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 ... 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.

The series versus Mercer
The Bucs and Bears have met 11 times with ETSU holding a 9-2 edge ... ETSU was 8-0 in the series before losing back-to-back games to Mercer during the 2010 regular season ... The Bucs did avenge those two losses though, dropping the Bears on their home floor in the finals of the 2010 A-Sun Tournament.

Last time against Mercer
MACON, Ga. (March 6, 2010) - A 2009-10 season that began with the tragic death of rising sophomore Seth Coy (Washington, Ind.) in a car accident ended in celebration, as the ETSU men's basketball team earned its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of a 72-66 win over host Mercer in the finals of the 2010 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the University Center. ... In a game that featured four lead changes and four ties, the Buccaneers (20-14) never led by more than seven points in the second half, but made plays down the stretch to get the win. Among those plays were a timely 3-pointer from junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) with just over a minute to play that made it a 65-61 game, a drawn charge by freshman forward J.C. Ward (Marietta, Ga.) on Mercer's next possession with 59 seconds left, and a 9-of-12 effort from the foul line over the final minute. ... With the win, the Bucs will make the program's ninth trip all-time to the NCAAs, which includes four trips to the dance over the last eight years. And the Bucs also enjoy their third A-Sun title in four seasons. ... The Bucs placed three players on the all-tournament squad, led by tournament MVP Micah Williams (Manchester), who posted 13 points against the Bears on Saturday and averaged 22 a game during the three-game stretch. Meanwhile, Tubbs and junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) joined Williams, as Tubbs pitched in a game-high 18 points and Hubbard added 14 in the victory. ... Other ETSU players in double figures scoring included sophomore post Isiah Brown (Miami) with 12, while sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) - wearing Coy's No. 43 jersey - came off the bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists. ... Playing in front of a raucous sold-out crowd on Mercer's home floor,   the Bucs would lead 52-45 in the second half only to see the Bears tie it at 60 with 2:11 left in the contest. At that point, Williams hit a pair of free throws and with the game at 62-61, Tubbs buried his double-clutched 3-pointer to give the Bucs a 65-61 edge. Sollazzo then made it 67-61 with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds left, but Mercer rallied to cut it to 68-66 on a pair of free throws from Daniel Emerson with 34 seconds remaining. From there, though, the Bucs went 4-of-5 at the line and made two defensive stops to seal the victory.

Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 30, 2010) - Holding one of the nation's best shooting teams well under its average this season, the ETSU men's basketball team enjoyed a victorious homecoming Thursday night inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center, dropping Atlantic Sun Conference foe Campbell 72-59. ... The Camels entered the game 12th in the nation in shooting percentage at 49 percent a game, but shot just 39 percent from the floor against the Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the Bucs (6-7 overall, 1-1 A-Sun) placed four players in double figures and shot 46 percent from the floor. ... Adam Sollazzo, a junior guard from Tampa, had a career high 17 points on the night, while Justin Tubbs, a senior guard from Trussville, Ala., posted a game-high 21 in the winning effort. Meanwhile, ETSU's Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) and Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) added 13 and 10, respectively. ... It was a game of offensive runs in the early going, as the Camels raced out to an early 6-0 advantage only to have the Bucs respond with a 10-0 spurt of their own. ... Later in the half, the Bucs enjoyed a strong final three minutes, highlighted by a 10-2 run that ended with a long-range bomb by Smith at the buzzer, making it 37-30 ETSU at the break. ... In the first half, both teams shot 46 percent from the floor and were even 17-17 on the boards. The ETSU edge came thanks to a 69 percent clip (9-of-13) from the free throw line, compared to 29 percent (2-of-7) for Campbell. ETSU also shot 57 percent from 3-point range (4-of-7). ... After the intermission, Sollazzo took over, scoring 12 points of ETSU's 15 points at one stretch and helping the Bucs build a 58-41 lead with just over eight minutes left. Campbell would get no closer than 12 the rest of the way. ... For the game, ETSU outscored Campbell 24-11 off turnovers. The Bucs also committed just 11 turnovers against a Campbell team that has thrived on forcing turnovers on steals.

Williams chasing 1,000; Smith moving up scoring list
While senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) is already a member of the 1,000-point club, fellow senior Micah Williams has a shot at making it to the group., Meanwhile, Smith continues to climb the all-time scoring chart. Below are numbers for both players:
Name            Current Points
Micah Williams               846
With those point totals, Williams would need to average 8.4 points a game for the Bucs' final 19 regular season games to reach 1,000. Smith stands at 1,353 points, and just recently overtook former Buccaneer great Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) for No. 10 on the ETSU all-time scoring list. Here are is the breakdown:
Name                Place     Points
Zakee Wadood No. 8    1,382
Harley Swift       No. 9    1,367
Mike Smith        No. 10 1,353
Jerald Fields      No. 11 1,351

Sollazzo rolling in last three for ETSU
Junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has really found his rhythm in the last three games, leading the team with an average of 15.3 points per game, while shooting an astounding 19-of-26 from the field for a 73 percent clip ... He is also averaging four rebounds and five assists a game during this stretch.

Bucs' Smith earns A-Sun Player of the Week
ETSU's Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) seemed to thrive in the warm weather of Cancun, Mexico, and the senior guard's play during the Cancun Governor's Cup has earned him the program's first Atlantic Sun Player of the Week honor for 2010-11, as announced by the league office on Tuesday. ... Smith, who was named to the event's all-tournament team, averaged a near double-double during the three games in three days, posting 14.3 points and nine rebounds per contest. He also shot 60 percent from the floor for the tournament. ... The most impressive performance for Smith came in the Bucs' 79-51 win over former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State. Against the Mountaineers, Smith netted 20 points and a career high 16 rebounds. ... He was joined on the all-tournament team by Colorado State's Travis Franklin, Ole Miss' Zach Graham, St. Louis' Brian Conklin, and Southern Miss' Gary Flowers.

"Big 3" hitting on all
cylinders key to
Bucs' success
Coming into this season, the Bucs were counting on quality offensive production from their "Big 3" senior guards in Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) and Micah Williams (Manchester) ... All three have had double-figure scoring seasons in the past, and expectations were for much of the same in 2010-11 ... However, so far this season, six of the Bucs' seven losses have coincided with poor output from the trio ... In fact, when all three score in double figures, the Bucs have won each of those games (Tennessee Tech, Milligan and Dayton) ... But when one or two is having an off night, the Bucs have issues winning.

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.

Bucs help bolster A-Sun to strong RPI standings
With a pair of signature wins already this season, the ETSU men's basketball team - along with other members of the Atlantic Sun Conference - is doing its part to put the league in some impressive company on the national hoops stage. ... With wins over Atlantic 10 Conference stalwart Dayton and Southeastern Conference West Division favorite Mississippi State, the Buccaneers have helped the A-Sun generate plenty of waves across the board in the national RPI rankings. As a result, one month into the 2010-11 NCAA men's basketball season, the Atlantic Sun Conference is ranked ahead of other mid-major leagues including the Southern, Ohio Valley, Big South, West Coast, Mid-American, WAC and Sun Belt. ... The A-Sun remains among the top half of the conferences in the country. CollegeRPI.com ranks the A-Sun 14th, immediately behind the Horizon, Conference USA and Missouri Valley, and ahead of the conferences mentioned above. Against the Southern, Big South, Sun Belt and Ohio Valley conferences, the A-Sun owns a 15-8 mark. ... The conference has more than held its own against the BCS conferences. With ETSU's win at Mississippi State, the conference grabbed its fifth win against the "Power-6" leagues. No conference eligible for consideration for the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll owns as many BCS wins as the A-Sun. The five wins represent the most for the league since they also picked up five wins in 2007-08.