JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2015) – After struggling in recent games, the ETSU men’s basketball team will begin a stretch that includes five home contests over the next six matchups, as the Buccaneers look to right the ship when they host North Carolina Central in non-conference play Saturday evening inside Freedom Hall. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
The Bucs (12-8) and Eagles (16-5) are meeting for just the second time in the programs’ histories, with ETSU winning that earlier matchup back in 1979. NCCU will pose a serious challenge for the Bucs, as the Eagles enter the contest having won 10 straight games.
Meanwhile, ETSU has lost four of its last seven games, including a 59-55 upset defeat at Furman on Thursday night.
For more on Saturday’s matchup, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link 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 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. N.C. Central
This will be just the second meeting ever between the Bucs and N.C. Central ... ETSU won the previous matchup 85-66 back during the 1978-79 season.
Last time out
GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 29, 2015) – Relinquishing a slim lead in the final two minutes, the ETSU men’s basketball looked on as Southern Conference foe Furman completed an upset victory over the Buccaneers 59-55 Thursday night inside Timmons Arena. ... With the loss, the Bucs fall to 12-8 overall, 6-5 in SoCon action. ETSU was led in scoring by 21 points from junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), while the Paladins’ got a double-double effort from junior guard Stephen Croone, who finished with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds. ... The Bucs led 53-51 with 1:29 left, but at that point, ETSU missed shots on back-to-back possessions and also committed a turnover. The Paladins used those miscues to go on a 6-0 run and take a 57-53 lead with six seconds left. Furman then fouled freshman guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) on a 3-point attempt, and Bradford hit the first two free throws. He intentionally missed the third shot, but the ball was knocked out of bounds off an ETSU hand, ultimately ending any hopes of a miracle comeback. ... Along with Wilson, senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) was the only other ETSU player in double figures with 10 points. For Furman, guards Larry Wideman and Devin Sibley had 14 and 11 points, respectively. ... For the game, ETSU shot just 38 percent and was only 4-of-6 from the foul line. Meanwhile, the Paladins used a 14-of-22 clip at the charity stripe to overcome an 18-of-44 effort from the field. ... In the first half, Furman rushed out to a quick 11-2 lead thanks to three straight 3-pointers from Croone. The Bucs responded with a 10-0 run to take their only lead of the half at 12-11, but Furman ultimately pulled ahead by as many as 10 at 29-19.
Despite shooting just 33 percent from the field in the first half, the Bucs did get to within five at 29-24 at halftime.
Will the Bucs make it a “trio” in the 1,000 point club?
Both senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for their careers, leaving teammate Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) aiming to join them in that elite group. ... While Rembert now stands at 1,217 for his career and Wilson is at 1034 points in his two plus seasons, Riley currently sits at 868 points ... Riley’s current scoring average would easily get him to over 1,000 points by the end of the season.
Riley rolling in SoCon play, one of nation’s best scorers
In 11 games against SoCon teams this season, guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) has put up impressive scoring numbers ... Riley is averaging 23.1 ppg in SoCon games, while shooting 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent at line ... In those games, he is also averaging 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals ... For the year, Riley is first in the SoCon in scoring with 20.0 points per game, and he ranks 16th nationally as well. ... Riley has produced these numbers despite not starting much of the season, instead coming off the bench.
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 ... Rembert now stands at 242 career makes from behind the arc, which puts him second on the Bucs’ all-time list ahead of all-time great Keith “Mister” Jennings ... Rembert will now set his sights on first place, which is held by Courtney Pigram (Memphis), who made 276 3-pointers from 2005 to 2009 ... Rembert also currently stands 19th on the all-time scoring list with 1,211 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 last year, averaging 36.1 minutes per game, the fourth highest total in program history.
Twenty games into the season and 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 nine home games so far this season, the team has combined to hit 196 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 fifth nationally with 10.3 3-pointers per game, and rank 34th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (38.8%) ... 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 4th (3.6 pg) and Riley is 41st (2.8).
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 849 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.
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. 26.
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 20.0 ppg, Rembert second with 16.2 a contest, and Wilson netting 13.1 ppg.
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 fact, McClain matched his career high with 11 assists in the loss to Tennessee (12/31). ... Currently, McClain ranks first in the SoCon and 28th nationally in assist/TO ratio at 2.8, and is second in the SoCon in assists per game with 4.3 a contest.
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 220 wins at ETSU ranks second on the Bucs’ all-time list ... In addition, Bartow’s 323 career victories ranks No. 1 among second generation coaches ... Along with his father’s 647 career wins, the Bartow men have combined for 970 victories, ranking fourth on the all-time win list for Father/Son coaches.
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.
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.