JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 23, 2011) - Senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) scored a game-high 22 points and eclipsed 1,500 points for his career, leading the ETSU men's basketball team to a 67-52 win over Atlantic Sun Conference foe USC Upstate Tuesday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
Along with Smith's 22, the Buccaneers got 18 points from junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and 16 points from senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester). With the win, ETSU improves to 14-8 overall, 9-2 in A-Sun action, having won 10 of its last 11 games. Meanwhile, Upstate drops to 2-18, 1-9.
"After the emotions of the Belmont game, it was good for us to get back out there and get a win," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team will continue a five-game homestand Saturday afternoon with a 4 p.m. meeting against Kennesaw State. "Mike picked up his game especially in the second half, and our guard play was the key for us tonight offensively. We have to keep taking care of business at home over the next two games before heading back on the road."
Smith, Williams and Sollazzo, along with sophomore guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) accounted for 62 of the Bucs' 67 points on the night. ETSU shot 46 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range, while also connecting on 79 percent of its shots from the foul line.
Meanwhile, the ETSU defense was stifling, forcing 14 turnovers and holding the Spartans to just 31 percent shooting from the floor and 17 percent from 3-point range. However, the Bucs were outrebounded by nine (39-30).
The Bucs overcame a sluggish start in the first half after falling behind by as many as five points at 15-10 with just over 12 minutes left before the intermission. Breaking out its "white" pressing defense, ETSU gave the Upstate offense fits, creating multiple turnovers and putting together a 7-0 run to close out the half and enjoy a 31-24 lead heading to the locker room.
In the first half, both teams struggled to score with the Spartans shooting just 33 percent and committing eight turnovers. Meanwhile, ETSU shot just 38 percent from the floor and 22 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Upstate out-rebounded the Bucs 19-17, but ETSU was a perfect 7-of-7 from the foul line.
After the intermission, ETSU raced ahead by 12 at 48-36 but Upstate answered with a 10-5 run to cut the lead to six at 55-49 with four minutes left in the game. From there, though, the Bucs ramped up the defensive pressure and outscored the Spartans 12-3 the rest of the way.
Upstate got a team high 11 points each from Torrey Craig and Carter Cook.
The Bucs will now turn their attention to Kennesaw State on Saturday. For more on ETSU men's hoops throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.