JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2015) – Fresh off a road win in Southern Conference play, the ETSU men’s basketball team will return to Freedom Hall for its final two home games of the 2014-15 regular season beginning with Saturday’s matchup with longtime rival Furman.
The matchup with the Paladins is set for 4 p.m. and will be part of a doubleheader at Freedom Hall, as the ETSU women’s team will host Western Carolina at 1 p.m. The games will also be airing on ESPN3.com, and fans can also listen to the games via the Buccaneer Sports Network presented by East Coast Wings.
The Buccaneers (14-10 overall, 7-7 SoCon) are coming off a 65-62 victory over UNC Greensboro on Thursday night and will be looking to improve its league standing with a win over the Paladins. The all-time series between the Bucs and Furman currently stands knotted at 24-24.
For more on Saturday’s games, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link located on 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. Furman
The Bucs and Paladins have a long history dating back to 1962, with most of the games played during ETSU’s previous tenure in the SoCon ... In all, the series is tied 24-24 ... The Bucs lost the last meeting 59-55 back on Jan. 29 of this year in Greenville, S.C.
Last time out vs. Furman
GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 29, 2015) – Relinquishing a slim lead in the final two minutes, the ETSU men’s basketball team looked on as Southern Conference foe Furman completed an upset victory over the Buccaneers 59-55 inside Timmons Arena. ... 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.
Last time out
GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 12, 2015) – It may not have been pretty at times, but somehow, someway the ETSU men’s basketball team got it done. ... Despite being outscored 30-7 during one stretch in the middle of the game, the Buccaneers never relented, methodically battling back and overcoming a 12-point second half deficit to down UNC Greensboro 65-62 in Southern Conference hoops action at the Greensboro Coliseum. ... Utilizing a smaller lineup and going to its pressure defensive package seemed to energize the Bucs midway through the second half, as ETSU rallied from a 42-30 deficit to pick up the victory. The Bucs were led by a game-high 21 points from senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), while sophomore guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.) finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his third career double-double effort. ... After Riley made a pair of free throws and then hit a 3-pointer to make it 63-58 with 2:30 left in the game, the Bucs still had to hold on for the win. With the game 63-62 in favor of ETSU, senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to make it a 65-62 contest. UNCG had two opportunities to hit a 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds, but both shots missed the mark. ... For the game, ETSU shot just 34.5 percent from the field and were an uncharacteristic 3-of-18 from 3-point range (17 percent). However, the Bucs did out-rebound the Spartans 37-29 and forced UNCG into 16 turnovers. ETSU also outscored the Spartans 28-18 in the paint and 39-17 in bench points. ... After trailing 30-28 at halftime, it didn’t get any better for the Bucs in the early going of the second half, as UNCG outscored ETSU 12-2 in the first eight minutes and led 42-30 with 12 minutes left in the game. However, at that point Riley hit a pair of free throws to make it 42-32 and the Bucs went on a 15-5 run to tie the game at 47. Riley then went on a 10-2 run on his own late in the game, capped by the 3-pointer that made it 65-62.
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 1,266 for his career and Wilson is at 1068 points in his two plus seasons, Riley currently sits at 943 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 14 games against SoCon teams this season, guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) has put up impressive scoring numbers ... Riley is averaging 21.8 ppg in SoCon games, while shooting 42 percent from the field, 36 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent at line ... In those games, he is also averaging 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals ... For the year, Riley is first in the SoCon in scoring with 19.8 points per game, and he ranks 15th 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 250 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 14th on the all-time scoring list with 1,266 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 also averaged 36.1 minutes per game last year, the fourth highest total in program history.
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 Feb 12.
Despite struggles, Bucs are “right there” in SoCon
While the Bucs currently stand 7-7 in SoCon play and are fifth in the standings, a quick glance at the results of those losing contests show just how close the team has been to moving up in the standings ... In the Bucs’ seven SoCon losses, their combined scoring margin is just -35 points, or an average of 5.0 points per game ... In fact, four of those losses were by four points or less, and the largest deficit was a 10-point loss to first-place Wofford ... Additionally, for the year the Bucs have not lost more than two games in a row, so they will be trying to keep that stat intact by picking up a win at UNCG and breaking their current two-game skid.
This 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 12 home games so far this season, the team has combined to hit 220 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 7th nationally with 9.7 3-pointers per game, and rank 46th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (37.9%) ... Individually, senior guards Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) are ranked among the nation’s best in threes per game ... Rembert is 6th (3.3 pg) and Riley is 43rd (2.7).
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 853 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.
Harris steps up game in win over UNC Greensboro
Setting career highs for points (13), field goals (5) and minutes played (28), sophomore guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.) also enjoyed his third career double-double thanks to 10 rebounds in the win over UNC Greensboro (2/12) ... That outing only continues to show Harris’ growth as a player, as he had consistently provided valuable minutes throughout the year ... He currently ranks second on the team in rebounding (5.6 rpg) and ranks fifth in scoring (6.0 ppg).
Bradford provides spark, shows signs of a bright future
With the Bucs trailing Wofford on Feb. 5, freshman guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) gave fans a glimpse of what could be a bright future for the former Mr. Basketball winner from the state of Tennessee ... During the final five minutes of that contest, Bradford scored all 14 of his points in the game, while also collecting three steals ... He powered a strong ETSU comeback that challenged the SoCon’s first place team.
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 19.8 ppg, Rembert second with 15.5 a contest, and Wilson netting 12.3 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 15th nationally in assist/TO ratio at 3.0, and is third in the SoCon in assists per game with 4.0 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 222 wins at ETSU ranks second on the Bucs’ all-time list ... In addition, Bartow’s 325 career victories ranks No. 1 among second generation coaches ... Along with his father’s 647 career wins, the Bartow men have combined for 971 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.