Bucs look to make up ground on Belmont; take on Bruins Thursday evening
Bucs look to make up ground on Belmont; take on Bruins Thursday evening
Thursday, February 17, 2011

NASHVILLE (Feb. 17, 2011)
-- In yet another highly-anticipated meeting, the ETSU men's basketball team will hit the road to take on Atlantic Sun Conference rival Belmont Thursday evening at 8 p.m. (EST) inside the Curb Event Center.

The Buccaneers (19-9 overall, 14-3 A-Sun) currently trail the Bruins by two games in the race for the conference regular season title, and ETSU hopes to keep its title hopes alive with a win in Music City. Belmont is the first of two important games in Nashville this weekend, as the Bucs will meet Lipscomb on Saturday.

For more on Thursday's game, click on the game notes link above or read the game notes below. For more on ETSU men's basketball as the Buccaneers close out the regular season and begin to prepare for the A-Sun Tournament, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops 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.


Weekly ETSU update

The ETSU men's basketball team went 2-0 in play last week, dropping Jacksonville 80-64 on Feb. 11, followed by a Senior Day win over North Florida 80-57 on Feb. 13 ... The Bucs remain two games back of league-leading Belmont, but hold a two-game edge over Jacksonville for second place in the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) won his fourth A-Sun Player of the Week honor this week, marking the first time in recorded A-Sun history that a player has accomplished that feat ... He currently leads the team in scoring and is second in rebounding ... He averaged 25 points a game last week and set a career high with 29 points against North Florida ... ETSU will look to cut into Belmont's lead in the conference race when they meet on Feb. 17 in Nashville, and the Bucs will then meet Lipscomb on Feb. 19 ... For more on ETSU basketball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's hoops link.


The series versus Belmont

The Bucs and Bruins have met 19 times in their histories, with the Bucs trailing the series, 8-11 ... The Bucs were a perfect 5-0 against Belmont prior to 2005, when ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Since that time, ETSU is 3-11 against Belmont ... Three of those games have gone to overtime, with ETSU going 1-2 in those contests, ... The last meeting between the two was a 72-62 Belmont win back on Jan. 23 inside the Dome.


Last time against Belmont

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 23, 2011) - Overcoming a 12-point, first-half deficit to tie the game in the second half and trail by only two points with six minutes left, the ETSU men's basketball team looked on as the Belmont Bruins made critical baskets down the stretch and defensive stops when they needed them to pull away with a 72-62 win in Atlantic Sun Conference play inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Bucs played without the services of its best on-ball, man-to-man defender, as senior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) missed the game after suffering an ankle injury against Lipscomb two days earlier. In Tubbs' absence, Belmont took advantage by shooting 46 percent from the floor and an even more impressive 46 percent from 3-point range. ... In addition, the Bruins enjoyed a gaudy 29-2 edge in points off the bench. ... The Bucs got a game-high 22 points from senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester), while fellow senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) and junior forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) scored 11 apiece. ETSU also got 10 points from sophomore guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa, Fla.) ... For Belmont, Jon House led the way with a team-high 17 points and six assists. ... In the first half, the game stood tied at 11-11 before the Bruins built a 12-point edge at 32-20 with four minutes left before the break. ETSU battled back to cut that deficit to eight at the break, 37-29. ... After the intermission, the Bucs outscored the Bruins 23-15 over the first 11 minute of play to tie the game at 52-52. Belmont held a 60-58 lead with 6:33 left on the clock before going on a 12-4 run to close out the win.

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 13, 2011) - Senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) scored a career high 29 points in a double-double effort, and his fellow classmates enjoyed a victorious Senior Day as the ETSU men's basketball team cruised to a 75-53 win over North Florida in Atlantic Sun Conference play Sunday inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... In the 2010-11 home finale for the Buccaneers, Smith and fellow seniors Micah Williams (Manchester), Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) and De'Shaud Johnson (Riverdale, Ga.) were all in the starting lineup and blitzed out to a 28-11 lead. ... While Smith finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds to pick up his 14th career double-double, junior Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.) netted 18 points, and Williams pitched in 15. ... In the first half, ETSU got off to a great start as all four seniors were in the starting lineup to begin the game. Over the first 12 minutes, the Buccaneers built a lead of as many as 21 points at 32-11, but at that point UNF put together a small offensive run and outscored the Bucs 12-2 over a five minutes stretch to make it 34-23 with 2:59 left on the clock. ... From there, ETSU ultimately led 41-26 and Smith had already scored 18 points. In his last six games, Smith has scored a total of 86 points in the first half - an average of 14.3 points per game in the first 20 minutes. ... The second half was much of the same for the Bucs, who went on to lead by as many as 28 points at 74-46 with just 5:07 left in the contest.


Smith wins record fourth A-Sun POTW honor

ETSU senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) capped his career at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center with a career-best scoring performance to earn his fourth Atlantic Sun Player of the Week honor, as announced Tuesday by the conference office. ... Smith is the only A-Sun player on record to have won four POTW awards in the same season. ... The 6-foot-6 guard scored 29 points in the win over North Florida on Feb. 13, and for the week he helped the Buccaneers to a 2-0 record. He averaged 25 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in those two games, while also collecting a double-double against the Ospreys thanks to his 11-rebound effort. ... Smith did much of his damage in the first half of those games, scoring 18 points against UNF and 17 points against Jacksonville prior to the intermission. For the week, he shot 49 percent from the floor, 38 percent from 3-point range, and 81 percent at the foul line.


Buccaneers place two plays on ESPN Sportscenter

The ETSU men's basketball team is making a habit of garnering airtime on ESPN Sportscenter's Top Plays. ... Just three weeks ago, ETSU senior Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) was selected as the No. 1 play of the day with his 360 degree slam dunk against Lipscomb on Jan. 21 in the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Well, the Buccaneers took it a step further on Friday night inside the Dome against Jacksonville, placing two plays in the Top 10 and once again taking the top slot. ... Senior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) threw down a one-handed, alley-oop slam on a pass from his roommate and fellow senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.). That play was picked fourth in the countdown. ... Meanwhile, Tubbs again took the show after receiving a pass from junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa). Going toward the opposite end of the floor from where he dunked against Lipscomb, Tubbs executed the same 360-degree slam with even more flair. The Sportscenter hosts described it as a Winter X Games style dunk.


Williams eclipses 1,000; Smith moving up list

While senior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) was already a member of the 1,000-point club, fellow senior Micah Williams (Manchester) joined his roommate on the list against Kennesaw State (1/29) ... With a 3-pointer from the left wing at the 17:55 mark of the second half, Williams went over 1,000 for his career, becoming the 33rd ETSU player all-time to reach that number ... Meanwhile, Smith joined another select group by eclipsing 1,500 points for his career in the win over USC Upstate (1/25) ... Below is where both players stand in the all-time scoring list:

Name Place Points

Mike Smith No. 8 1,648

Micah Williams No. 33 1,099


Sollazzo rolling in last 18 games for ETSU

Junior guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) has really found his rhythm in the last 18 games, leading the team with 4.3 assists per game, and ranking third on the team with 11.7 points per game ... He has netted double figures in 11 of those 18 games ... In those contests, Sollazzo is shooting an impressive 71-of-127 from the field for a 56 percent clip ... he is also averaging 3.2 rpg in this stretch ... The Bucs are 15-3 in this span.


Smith's 20/20 vision leads Bucs over FGCU

With his 20-point and 20-rebound effort against Florida Gulf Coast on Jan. 8, 2011, senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) made history ... According to the statistics available to the ETSU media relations office, Smith was the first Buccaneer since Feb. 14, 1959 to post a 20/20 effort ... The last was Buc great Tom Chilton, who scored 35 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in a win over Wofford during the 1959 season. ... In addition, Smith is only the third player nationally to achieve that mark this season.


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 2007-08.


Bartow gets wins No. 250 overall and 150 at ETSU; ranks among best coaches in last five years

With his team's win over Florida Gulf Coast on Jan. 8, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow picked up his 250th career victory ... He then collected his 150th win at ETSU when the Bucs downed Jacksonville on Jan. 15 ... 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.