JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 1, 2014) – Off to its best start in over a decade, the ETSU men’s basketball team will be aiming for its fifth straight win as the Buccaneers open Southern Conference play when they host Western Carolina on Wednesday night inside Freedom Hall.
The #FillFreedom game is scheduled to tip at 8 p.m. and will air on national television courtesy of the American Sports Network. Multiple promotions and special ticket prices are being offered as the Bucs hope to create a great atmosphere inside Freedom Hall for the first game back in the Southern Conference since the 2004-05 season.
The Bucs, who improved to 4-1 with their win over Morehead State on Monday, have used a high-scoring offensive attack and some solid defensive performances to win four in a row. Currently, the Bucs’ 83.4 points per game average ranks 17th in the country.
Meanwhile, Western Carolina is coming off a 2013-14 season in which the Catamounts reached the finals of the Southern Conference Tournament, before eventually losing to Wofford. The Bucs lead the all-time series against the Catamounts 46-23 and have won 15 straight games.
For more on the game, read the game notes below or click on the links provided to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2014-15 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 enjoyed a solid campaign in 2013-14, winning 19 games on the year and earning a berth into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament ... The trip to the CIT marked the sixth postseason trip for the Bucs in head coach Murry Bartow’s 11 seasons at ETSU (three NCAAs, one NIT and two CIT trips) ... In addition, the Bucs enjoyed a first round postseason tournament victory over Lipscomb in a thrilling double overtime game, while also giving Florida Gulf Coast a scare in the tournament semifinals in Fort Myers, Fla. ... ETSU went on to defeat longtime rival and newly-renewed conference foe Chattanooga in the first round of the CIT at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center ... The key to success for the Bucs in 2013-14 was the play of an impressive backcourt and that group will return this year led by rising seniors Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), along with rising junior Lester Wilson (Knoxville) ... While that trio will return to lead the Bucs, the team will also return starters A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) this season ... The one area of concern for the Bucs will be the frontcourt this year, as the team lost all of its contributors from a year ago ... This will leave a group that consists of returners like senior Ron Giplaye (Lowell, Mass.) and sophomore Isaac Banks, along with newcomers such as senior Alex Bates (Greenbelt, Md.), junior Tommy Williams and freshman Karl Overstreet (Lynchburg, Va.) to make up for those losses ... Other players who are expected to contribute this season include sophomore guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.), who showed great potential at the end of last season, and freshman guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), who was a Mr. Basketball selection during his senior year of high school.
The series vs. Western Carolina
Tonight’s game renews a long-standing series between the Bucs and Catamounts that dates back to ETSU’s time in the Southern Conference ... ETSU leads the all-time series 46-23 and has won 15 straight ... The last meeting was back on Feb. 14, 2005, a 92-83 win for the Bucs.
Last time out vs. Western Carolina
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2005) - Thanks to a career high 23 points from junior Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) and a double-double from junior forward Dillion Sneed (Chicago), the East Tennessee State men’s basketball team picked up its second straight win with a 92-83 victory over Western Carolina Monday night in front of 4,364 fans at Memorial Center. ... With the win, the Buccaneers improved to 8-16 overall, 4-10 in Southern Conference play, while Western Carolina dropped to 8-18, 3-10. ... The Bucs, who were coming off a 105-78 win over UNC Greensboro on Saturday, scored 64 points in the first half of that win over the Spartans. The same offensive intensity was there from the outset again against the Catamounts, as the Bucs built a lead of as many as 23 points at 43-20 with 5:29 remaining before the intermission. ... However, the Catamounts - who have now lost 15-straight to the Bucs - clawed back into the contest with a 19-6 run the rest of the way to make it 49-41 at the break. ... In the second half, Western Carolina continued to pester the Bucs and pulled to within five points twice with just over four minutes to play. In fact, the Catamounts cut the lead to four thanks to a 3-pointer by guard Trey Hopkins with 2:52 left in the game. However, from there, junior guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) connected on a floater, and a steal by sophomore guard Travis Strong (Memphis) led to an easy layup by senior guard James Anthony (Tampa) to make it 89-81. That would be all the lead the Bucs would need the rest of the way. ... For Western Carolina, Hopkins finished with a game-high 25 points.
Last time out
MOREHEAD, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) – Despite losing its starting point guard to an injury early in the game, having its back-up point guard in foul trouble throughout the second half, and shooting just 35.7 percent from the field for the game, the ETSU men’s basketball team still found a way to drop Morehead State 63-59 Monday night inside Johnson Arena. ... The Buccaneers can thank junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) and senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) for overcoming all those odds. Wilson made multiple defensive plays down the stretch and hit three straight 3-pointers over the final four minutes to finish with 18 points, while Riley scored a team-high 21 despite playing much of the second half with four fouls. ... Junior guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) departed the game early in the first half after apparently injuring his left ankle. But fortunately for the Bucs, it was a struggle for both teams offensively before the break. ... ETSU did not have a made field goal until a 3-pointer by Riley with 10:48 left before the intermission, but the Eagles were equally ineffective and allowed the Bucs to stay in the game. ... The Bucs managed to lead 22-21 at halftime, but ETSU shot just 25 percent from the field compared to the Eagles 30 percent shooting clip. ... After the break, ETSU fell behind by four at 47-43 but after a pair of free throws from Riley, Wilson blocked a shot on one end of the floor and then sprinted to the other end to sink a corner 3-pointer that gave the Bucs a 48-47 lead with 3:20 left in the game. Wilson followed with two more long range bombs, including one that came with 42 seconds on the clock and made it 59-54. ... Morehead didn’t go away at that point, but they were unable to get closer than three over the last minute. In the end, ETSU senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) also joined Riley and Wilson in double figures with 10 points on the night. ... The Eagles got a team-high 13 points from Angelo Warner, while teammates Corban Collins and Lyonell Gaines each added 12 points. Morehead finished the night shooting just 37 percent from the floor and 28 percent from 3-point range, while the Bucs at 44 percent from beyond the arc.
Perimeter trio accounts for signiciant offensive output
The trio of senior guards Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), along with forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), accounted for over 50 percent of the team’s offensive production a year ago, with Rembert and Riley leading the team with 16.8 and 13.4 points per game, respectively, while Wilson pitched in 10.1 points per game. ... That same group has picked up where it left off a year ago, with Riley leading the team with 19.0 ppg, Rembert second with 15.6 a contest, and Wilson netted 14.8 ppg. ... In the SoCon, Wilson currently leads the league with 3.6 3-pointers a game, while Rembert is 5th in the league with 3.0 a contest, and Riley averages 2.8 a game.
Record-setting night for ETSU shooters against UNCA
Combining to hit on 15 3-pointers against Asheville, the ETSU men’s basketball team tied the school record for long-range shots in a single game ... The Bucs matched previous teams that hit 15 against Memphis back on Feb. 18, 1991 and against UNC Greensboro back on Feb. 12, 2005. ... In addition, senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa) tied his own career best with eight makes from beyond the arc, tying the mark he set back on Feb. 28, 2014 against USC Upstate ... Rembert’s eight makes are tied for second on the single game list with former Bucs James Anthony (Tampa) and Courtney Pigram (Memphis) ... In fact, Pigram holds the single-game record with 10 in a contest against Mercer back on Feb. 28, 2009.
Bucs need to get defensive this season
A year ago, ETSU’s offensive production was one of the best ever, as the team finished third on the all-time list with 2,689 points on the year ... However, despite averaging 76.8 points per game, the team also allowed opponents to score an average of 76.1 a game ... Even though Coach Murry Bartow’s team can score the basketball, key to success this year will be the Bucs’ improved defensive effort. ... The Bucs have been effective defensively in their last two games, winning at Winthrop and Morehead State by holding those teams to scoring games in the 60s.
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 834 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.
Rembert, Wilson, Riley approaching 1,000-point plateau
Senior guards Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), along with junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) are each within range of topping the 1,000-point mark for their careers this season ... Rembert and Wilson have the best chance to top 1,000, as Rembert currently stands at 972 points for his career, while Wilson has 846 points in his two plus seasons ... Riley will need a strong year offensively to reach 1,000, as he stands at 564 points so far ... He certainly got off to a good start this year, netting 27 in the season opener at Valpo (11/14) and 21 against UVa.-Wise (11/18).
Rembert making his place in ETSU hoops history
Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) has become one of the most feared shooters in the country over the last two years, and after a 2013-14 season in which he led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring (16.8 ppg) while also setting a new ETSU program record for 3-pointers in a season with 108, expectations are high as the 2014-15 campaign begins ... The quality numbers don’t stop with purely scoring and 3-point shooting, as he posted a Top 10 ETSU single season mark for free throw shooting percentage last season (.842), while also helping the Bucs finish with the top season marks ever for free throws made (656) and attempted (877) ... Rembert was also an Ironman on the floor, average 36.1 minutes per game, the fourth highest total in program history ... A preseason All Southern Conference pick, Rembert will be the focus of many defensive game plans this year.
Rembert named Lou Henson award finalist
Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) has been selected as a candidate for the Lou Henson Award, which is presented annually to the Division I “Mid-Major” Player of the Year ... The award is named in honor of Henson who retired after a spectacular coaching career that lasted 41 years. When he left the game in 2005 he was sixth all-time in career Division I wins with 779. He is the winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State. He is one of only 12 coaches in the history of the game to take two schools to the Final Four. ... The 2015 recipient will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet on April 3 in Indianapolis, site of the 2015 men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.
Bartow atop list of second generation coaches
Murry Bartow’s coaching lineage is undeniable ... As the son of the late Gene Bartow, he had the fortunate opportunity to grow up learning from one of the most successful basketball coaches in college history ... Setting off on his own career, Bartow has carried on the tradition. ... His 212 wins at ETSU ranks second on the Bucs’ all-time list ... In addition, Bartow’s 315 career victories ranks No. 1 among second generation coaches ... Along with his father’s 647 career wins, the Bartow men have combined for 962 victories, ranking fourth on the all-time win list for Father/Son coaches.
Bucs adds to postseason resume in 2013-14
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) ... A year ago, the Bucs made their second trip all-time to the CIT Postseason Tournament, marking the program’s 13th postseason tournament appearance all-time ... In the Bucs first CIT appearance, ETSU went 2-1 with wins over Furman and Ohio, advancing to the tournament semifinals before losing to Iona in a hard-fought 83-80 contest at the Dome ... Last year, the Bucs went 1-1, defeating fellow Southern Conference member Chattanooga before falling to Towson in the quarterfinals.
ETSU picked to “Prestige” programs list
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, with back-to-back NCAA appearances in 2009 and 2010, followed by CIT appearances in 2011 and 2014 … Since the 1984-85 season, the Buccaneers, who have enjoyed nine NCAA Tournament trips, two NIT berths, two CIT berths, 11 20-win seasons, and a slew of conference regular season and tournament championships in that time, 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 current and 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, as well as other major programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.