CULLOWHEE, N.C. (Jan. 15, 2015) – The Southern Conference slate continues on Thursday night for the ETSU men’s basketball team, as the Buccaneers head on the road to face Western Carolina at 7 p.m. inside the Ramsey Center.
The Bucs (9-5 overall, 4-2 SoCon) need a win to keep pace in the SoCon standings, while Western Carolina currently sits just behind ETSU in the standings at 8-9, 3-2.
ETSU continues to be one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams, while the Catamounts are also very talented on the perimeter. In the last meeting between the two teams earlier this season, both teams combined for 26 made 3-pointers – 15 by the Bucs and 11 by the Catamounts.
For more on Thursday night’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2014-15 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball 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 be back to lead the Bucs, the team will also return starters A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) this season ... One major area of concern for the Bucs will be the frontcourt, as the team lost all of its contributors from a year ago ... Along with the loss of senior Ron Giplaye (Lowell, Mass.) to a knee injury earlier this season, sophomore Isaac Banks, and newcomers such as senior Alex Bates (Greenbelt, Md.), junior Tommy Williams and freshman Karl Overstreet (Lynchburg, Va.) are left to make up for those losses on the inside ... 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
The Bucs return to Cullowhee, N.C., for the first time since the 2004-05 season ... ETSU leads the all-time series 47-23 and has won 16 straight ... The last meeting was earlier this year, a 96-89 victory for the Bucs inside Freedom Hall on Dec. 3, 2014.
Last time out vs. Western Carolina
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 3, 2014) – On a night when the goal was to fill Freedom Hall, ETSU and Western Carolina filled the baskets with a record shooting performance. ... But as he has done on multiple occasions already this season, it was ETSU senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) who landed the decisive blow in the final seconds. ... With a pair of free throws and a clutch 3-pointer that took a tie game and gave the Buccaneers a five-point lead with 1:39 left on the clock, Riley – who finished with a career high 31 points – helped ETSU hold off Western Carolina 96-89 in the Southern Conference opener for both teams in front of 4,287 fans at Freedom Hall. ... Along with helping seal with win, Riley’s final 3-pointer of the game also helped the Bucs match the school record for 3-pointers in a game with 15, while Western Carolina finished with 11 long-range shots of its own on the night. In fact, Western overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 83 before ETSU used a 10-0 run to end the Catamounts’ threat. ... Along with Riley’s 31 points, the Bucs also got 22 points from senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.), 17 from junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) and 16 from sophomore guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson).
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 10, 2015) – Chattanooga’s Casey Jones had made only one 3-point shot in the last two seasons. Unfortunately for the ETSU men’s basketball team, his second came at a terrible time. ... Jones connected on an NBA-range 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in overtime, handing the Mocs a 74-71 win over the Buccaneers in this longtime Southern Conference rivalry matchup inside Freedom Hall. ... The game lived up to the rivalry’s history, as the Bucs had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) missed the mark on a 3-point attempt as time expired. In the overtime period, ETSU tied the game at 71-71 with 49 seconds left following a traditional 3-point play from sophomore guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson). ... ETSU then forced a miss from UTC’s Eric Robertson with 21 seconds left, but Jones made another key play by grabbing the offensive rebound. That set up his heroics following a timeout by Chattanooga head coach Will Wade. ... For the Bucs – a team that entered the game second in the league in free throw shooting percentage – a 9-of-20 effort from the foul line (45 percent) didn’t help the cause against the Mocs. In addition, the Bucs – who also entered the game averaging over 11 made 3-pointers a game – looked on as Chattanooga used that approach to hit 14 threes. ETSU finished with an 8-of-20 clip from beyond the arc. ... For the Bucs, Riley finished with 18 points, while junior Lester Wilson (Knoxville) netted 15 and senior Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) pitched in 14.
Riley rolling in SoCon play, one of nation’s best scorers
In six games against Southern Conference teams this season, senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) has put up impressive scoring numbers ... Riley is averaging 26.2 points per game in SoCon games, while shooting 48 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent at the foul line ... He is also averaging 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game against SoCon teams. ... For the year, Riley is currently first in the SoCon in scoring with 20.4 points per game, and he ranks 11th nationally as well.
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 ... With his two made threes against Chattanooga, Rembert moved into a tie with ETSU great Keith “Mister” Jennings for second place on the ETSU all-time 3-point list ... he also currently stands 25th on the all-time scoring list with 1,129 points ... The quality numbers don’t stop with just scoring and 3-point shooting, as a year ago he set Top 10 single season marks for free throw shooting percentage (.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.
Fourteen games into the season, it’s no secret that the Buccaneers are relying on their 3-point shooting as a major component of the team’s offense this year ... In seven home games so far this season, the team has combined to hit 77 3-pointers, and has tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game (15) two times at home -- and a total of three times all together ... Those numbers have led some people to start calling Freedom Hall by a new moniker -- Three-dom Hall ... As a team, the Bucs currently rank fourth nationally with 10.9 3-pointers per game, and rank 13th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (40.3%) ... Individually, junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), along with senior guards Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) are ranked among the nation’s best in threes per game ... Rembert is 5th (3.8 pg), Wilson is 19th (3.1) and Riley 54thst (2.7).
Bucs rank among best in NCAA in various categories
This season, the Buccaneers are ranking among the best teams and players in the country in various categories ... The chart to the left shows where the Bucs rank following games on Jan. 13.
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 20.4 ppg, Rembert second with 16.8 a contest, and Wilson netting 14.1 ppg.
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 843 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.
McClain making place next to ETSU’s greatest PG
ETSU fans have fond memories over former point guard and All-American Keith “Mister” Jennings, who is considered the program’s greatest player ... What many fans may not realize is that current point guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) is quietly making a place next to Jennings in the ETSU record books ... Currently, McClain ranks No. 2 next to Jennings on the Bucs’ all-time assist/turnover ratio list, making him one of the two best guards in school history for protecting the basketball ... McClain also entered the year ranking in the Top 10 all-time for total assists (10th) and assists per game (6th). ... In his last outing, McClain matched his career high with 11 assists in the loss to Tennessee (12/31). ... Currently, McClain ranks 15th nationally in assist/TO ratio at 3.28.
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 three of their road wins this season, winning at Winthrop, Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky by holding those teams to scoring games in the 60s.
Rembert, Wilson, Riley approaching 1,000-point plateau
Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career, leaving teammates Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), along with junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) aiming to join him in that elite group ... While Rembert now stands at 1,129 for his career, Wilson is at 970 points in his two plus seasons, while Riley will need a strong year offensively to reach 1,000, as he stands now at 754 points so far ... Riley certainly got off to a good start this year, netting 27 in the season opener at Valpo (11/14), 21 against UVa.-Wise (11/18), 31 in the win over Western Carolina (12/3), and 28 in the loss to UNC Greensboro (12/13).
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 217 wins at ETSU ranks second on the Bucs’ all-time list ... In addition, Bartow’s 320 career victories ranks No. 1 among second generation coaches ... Along with his father’s 647 career wins, the Bartow men have combined for 965 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 in upper half of “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.