|December 22, 2015||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||UT|
|FG Percentage||.368 (25-68)||.397 (25-63)|
|3P FG Percentage||.296 (8-27)||.333 (6-18)|
|FT Percentage||.750 (9-12)||.645 (20-31)|
DEUCE BELLO - 4
Guyn - 1
DEUCE BELLO - 1
DESONTA BRADFORD - 1
DESONTA BRADFORD - 1
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 22, 2015) – For 36 minutes, the ETSU men’s basketball team put itself in position to enjoy a holiday victory over the Tennessee Volunteers. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the final four minutes of the game did not go as planned.
Leading the Vols 65-61 with 4:35 left in regulation, the Bucs looked on as Tennessee closed the game with a 15-2 offensive run to take a 76-67 win over ETSU Tuesday evening inside Thompson-Boling Arena. With the victory, UT improves to 6-5 on the season, while the Bucs dropped to 5-6.
“I was proud of the way we played and fought tonight, but I hate it for our players and fans that we couldn’t get it done,” said ETSU head coach Steve Forbes. “We were in really good position late in the game and just didn’t make plays. That’s my fault and we can correct those mistakes. This team is coming together and showing a lot of improvement. We know what we need to do.”
The Bucs got a game-high 22 points from senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.), while junior guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) pitched in 11. In addition, senior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) had his best game of the year so far with nine points and five rebounds in just nine minutes of action.
Early in the game, Guyn provided the Bucs with their offense, scoring the Bucs’ first 11 points of the contest and helping ETSU stay close at 14-11 with 14 minutes left before the break. Later on, with the score 16-15 in favor of UT, the Vols went on a 12-2 offensive run to take a 28-17 lead with 8:14 on the clock.
The Bucs kept the deficit in single digits the rest of the first half, but still trailed 42-33 at the break. However, before leaving the floor, Forbes was called for a technical foul following a brief conversation with an official. That technical would provide inspiration for the Bucs in the second half.
After Tennessee made one of two free throws on the technical foul, the Bucs found a renewed energy and opened the second half by outscoring the Vols 14-4 to take the lead 47-46 on a thunderous dunk by Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) with 14 minutes to go in the game.
Both teams went back-and-forth from there, but with four minutes left back-to-back jumpers by T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) lifted the Bucs to a 65-61 lead. From there, the Vols regained the advantage with a 6-0 run, but a layup by Bello made it 67-67 with two minutes remaining. After trading possessions, UT had the ball with 1:11 left and got guard Detrick Mostella open for a made 3-pointer on the right wing.
Down 70-67, the Bucs designed a play to try and tie the game with a 3-pointer, but a turnover by Guyn led to a dunk by Punter with 39 seconds left. Down five, the Bucs were unable to muster a comeback at that point.
Tennessee had four players in double figures, led by a team-high 17 points from Mostella and 14 from senior forward Armani Moore.
ETSU held its own on the glass against the Vols, being out-rebounded just 46-45. However, Tennessee did hold significant advantages on points in the paint (34-26), fast break points (17-2), and bench points (33-23).
The Bucs will now enjoy an eight-day break for the holidays, and will return to action Wednesday, Dec. 30 at home against Morehead State. Tip at Freedom Hall is set for 7 p.m.
For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2015-16 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.