SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Feb. 28, 2014) – With seeding in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament on the line, the ETSU men’s basketball team will travel to take on USC Upstate in the regular season finale for both teams tonight in G.B. Hodge Center.
Tip is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be aired on regional cable television courtesy of CSS, while ESPN3.com will carry the game worldwide via live web streaming.
The Bucs and Spartans enter the game with identical records, with the winner taking third place in the conference standings heading into next week’s tournament. Teams finishing in the top four of the league standings will host a tournament quarterfinal game next Tuesday, March 4.
For more on tonight’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2013-14 season, 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 University 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.
The ETSU men’s basketball program was glad to see the 2012-13 campaign come to an end, following a season which saw the team face multiple obstacles and challenges -- such as a brutal schedule that featured the likes of North Carolina, Arizona, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Hawaii ... Other issues for the team included senior post Lukas Poderis (Port Richey, Fla.) missing the season with an ankle injury that he suffered in the preseason, senior guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis) being academically ineligible for the first two months of the year, and two other senior guards who were expected to be major contributors were dismissed from the team in early November for violations of team rules … This left head coach Murry Bartow and his coaching staff with a young, inexperienced group of underclassmen, several true freshmen, one redshirt freshman and a pair of junior college transfers … Those obstacles proved to be tough to overcome, as the Buccaneers posted a 10-22 record and finished 8-10 in Atlantic Sun Conference play … It was the toughest campaign in Bartow’s 10 seasons at ETSU, a tenure that has produced many championships, postseason tournament appearances and 20-win campaigns … In all, Bartow’s teams have earned three NCAA Tournament invitations (2004, 2009 and 2010), one NIT appearance (2007), and one CIT berth (2011), and the Bucs have eclipsed 20 wins five times.
The series vs. USC Upstate
ETSU holds an 8-5 all-time record against the Spartans ... Upstate has won the last three meetings, including an 75-63 victory back on Feb. 10, 2014.
Last time out vs. USC Upstate
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 10, 2014) – When combining the start of both halves Monday night, the ETSU men’s basketball team was outscored a combined 29-4 by USC Upstate. It was simply too much to overcome. ... In a battle of two teams that entered the game tied for third place in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Spartans took advantage of the Buccaneers’ slow offensive starts to take sole possession of third place in the league with a 75-63 victory inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. ... The Bucs got a game-high 26 points from junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) and a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville). However, USC Upstate’s individual efforts were even better, as seniors Torrey Craig and Ricardo Glenn both posted double-doubles, combining for 40 points and 30 rebounds. ... ETSU got off to a slow start in the first half, scoring just three points over the first seven minutes of play and falling behind by as many as 10 points. However, a 13-2 ETSU run midway through the half and another 17-7 burst just before the intermission led to a 33-31 halftime lead when an alley-oop slam dunk by Wilson with 28 seconds left capped the scoring. ... After the intermission, the Bucs again struggled, as USC Upstate opened on a 17-4 run and later built a lead of as many as 18 points at 64-46 with six minutes left in the contest.
Last time out
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2014) – Junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) hit two free throws with 3.2 seconds on the clock and North Florida’s Beau Beech missed an opportunity to tie the game with .3 seconds left, as the ETSU men’s basketball team escaped UNF Arena Saturday night with an 88-85 Atlantic Sun Conference victory over the Ospreys. ... Beyond the emotions of the win, ETSU senior Hunter Harris (Nashville) also learned that his father was sick prior to the game, and later got news at halftime that he had passed away. Harris still played the second half and finished the game with 18 points and a team-high seven rebounds. ... Meanwhile, Riley finished with a game-high 19 points, while junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) set the single-season record for 3-pointers with a shot at the 9:12 mark of the second half and finished with 18 points as well. ... The game was full of dramatic moments at the end, as North Florida overcame an 85-77 deficit with an 8-0 run that was capped by senior Travis Wallace’s two free throws, tying the game at 85 with 12.1 seconds left. At that point, Riley was fouled as he raced to the basket and promptly hit two free throws to make it 87-85 with 3.2 seconds left. ... UNF then inbounded the ball and senior Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) intercepted the pass. He was quickly fouled and with 1.2 seconds left went to the foul line, hitting one of two shots at the stripe. However, at that point, North Florida again made a long pass and found Beach open for a deep 3-point attempt. Gadsden-Gilliard fouled Beach on the play, but the sophomore forward went to the line and missed his first two attempts, sealing the win for the Bucs.
Resurgent Wilson giving Bucs a lift on offense
With his career high 31 points and seven made 3-pointers in the Jacksonville game (2/20), sophomore Lester Wilson (Knoxville) continued his recent resurgence as a major offensive weapon for the Bucs ... Since Jan. 25, Wilson is averaging 15.7 points and 5.1 rebounds a game, while shooting 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range, and 95 percent at the foul line ... By comparison, before his recent streak, Wilson had averaged 7.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game on just 33% shooting from the field and 26% shooting from 3-point range.
Rembert making place in history during 2013-14
Junior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) has become one of the most feared shooters in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and this season he has rewritten ETSU’s record books ... With 88 3-pointers so far this season, Rembert has eclimpsed the program record of 86 makes in a season, set by Courtney Pigram (Memphis) in 2006-07. ... Rembert’s numbers are also some of the best in the nation for an outside shooter ... For those statistics, see Page 4 of this notes package.
Riley breaks out; continues great “sixth man” play
For weeks, those around the ETSU men’s basketball team have argued that junior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) may be the best “sixth man” in the league ... Recently, Riley has been proving those people right ... In his last nine games -- which includes a career-high, 30-point effort against Lipscomb (2/8) -- the junior guard has eclipsed double digits each time, averaging 17.2 points a game, while shooting 45 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and 89 percent at the foul line.
Free throws key to ETSU victories this season
What a difference a year can make ... Last season, the Buccaneers struggled for consistency at the foul line, but this year has been a different story ... The Bucs currently lead the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 75 percent shooting clip from the charity stripe, and their numbers are also good enough to rank 9th in the country in free throws made as of Feb. 23 with 568 ... In fact, the Bucs matched the program record for free throw percentage in a game against Jacksonville (2/20), going 18-of-18 for 100 percent at the charity stripe ... Earlier this year the Bucs hit a remarkable 32-of-33 free throws in the win over North Florida (1/23).
Bartow gets win No. 300 overall and No. 200 at ETSU
ETSU head coach Murry Bartow won his 300th career game on Jan. 4 against Kennesaw State, and captured his 200th win on the ETSU bench on Jan. 25 against Jacksonville ... Bartow is the second winningest coach in program history, behind only legend Madison Brooks’ 370 victories for the Blue and Gold. In addition, Bartow’s .581 winning percentage also ranks second in the modern era for the Bucs, behind only Alan LeForce’s .607 percentage.
Difference between winning and losing for ETSU
Rebounding has been a particular indicator for the Bucs this season when it comes to wins and losses ... The statistics below show the differences for the Bucs is several important categories so far this season.
Statistical category Wins (17-0) Losses (0-13)
ETSU scoring 83.8 PPG....................... 67.9 PPG
Opponent scoring 73.2 PPG........................ 79.5 PPG
Rebounding margin +0.7....................................... -8.2
Shooting % .479.................................... .385
3-pt. shooting % .410................................... .320
Assists 13.2 APG..................... 11.3 APG
Merriweather continues to shine, posts double-double
Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) has certainly made an impression this season, and he continued to make more news with his third career double-double in the win over Kennesaw State (1/4) ... In that game, Merriweather also netted a career high with 19 points, while grabbing 10 rebounds ... His current team ranks are first in rebounding (6.4 rpg), fifth in scoring (10.1 ppg), first in steals (1.5 spg), and third in minutes played (26.8 mpg). ... He followed that effort with a career high 20 points in the loss at Mercer (1/6).
Bucs have tradition of postseason appearances, success
The ETSU men’s basketball team has enjoyed its share of postseason success and ranks as one of the nation’s most prestigious basketball programs ... The Buccaneers have earned berths to the NCAA Tournament nine times (1969, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) and NIT twice (1983, 2007) ... In 2011, the Bucs made their first ever appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, winning twice and advancing to the semifinals of that event ... It was the program’s 12th postseason tournament appearance all-time.
Three-point streak for Bucs dates back nearly 20 years
Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 824 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA, just behind Arkansas and ahead of Oakland.
Shuffling starters was the “new normal” for Bucs
Last season, ETSU head coach Murry Bartow used 17 different starting lineups in the team’s 33 games ... Injuries and dismissals left ETSU’s coaches searching for the right combination all season. ... Bartow hoped to find more stability with his rotation in 2013-14, but he had used five different starting lineups in the first five games of the year. ... Since that time, he has played with the same starting lineup in 20 of the last 24 games, with the team going 12-8 in those contests.
ETSU picked among nation’s best “Prestige” programs
In 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 Bucs -- who have enjoyed nine NCAA trips, one NIT and one CIT berth, 14 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 team, as well as former SoCon rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. … In addition, at that time the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn, as well as programs such as Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson and Fla. State.