|January 02, 2016||1st||2nd||Final|
East Tennessee State
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||WCU|
|FG Percentage||.527 (29-55)||.322 (19-59)|
|3P FG Percentage||.533 (8-15)||.107 (3-28)|
|FT Percentage||.615 (16-26)||.862 (25-29)|
CULLOWHEE, N.C. (Jan. 1, 2016) – The ETSU men’s basketball team will begin the new year by opening Southern Conference play Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., traveling across the mountain to take on Western Carolina.
The Buccaneers (6-6) will be looking to even the score with the Catamounts, who ousted ETSU from the 2015 SoCon Tournament last March in Asheville, N.C. Meanwhile, Western Carolina – which had lost 17 straight games to the Bucs before the win last year – will attempt to defend its home court, where the Catamounts (5-8) are a perfect 5-0 on the year.
As for the Bucs they will be trying to pick up only their second win on the road this season (the first came at Georgia Tech back in November). Following Saturday’s game, the Bucs will play their final non-conference game of the season Monday on the road at North Carolina Central.
For more on Wednesday night’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2015-16 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 Steve Forbes era begins
It seems like only yesterday that Steve Forbes was named the 16th head coach in the history of ETSU basketball back on March 30, 2015 ... But seven months later and the Bucs are ready to begin the Forbes’ era ... Having most recently served two seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State where he helped take the Shockers to the Sweet 16 in 2014-15, Forbes has been heralded for his recruiting ties and his extensive background as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level – which included a five-year stop at the University of Tennessee ... Complete bio information on Forbes can be found at ETSUBucs.com and general coaching records and other statistics are available on Page 2 and Page 5 of this media notes package.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 30, 2015) – With senior point guard and leading scorer Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) nursing an injured calf muscle and sitting in street clothes on the bench, the ETSU men’s basketball team built a 22-point second half lead and ultimately held off a furious Morehead State rally in the closing minutes to post a 75-72 win over the Eagles inside Freedom Hall. ... The Buccaneers – who improve to 6-6 on the year – were led by junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.), who scored a game high and career best 25 points, while senior guard Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) came off the bench to net 12 points in the winning effort. Meanwhile, Morehead State dropped to 6-6 on the year and got a team high 20 points from Xavier Moon. ... ETSU fell behind by a score of 9-4 just four minutes into the game, but at that point the Bucs turned on the offensive jets with a 19-3 run that made it 23-12 with just under eight minutes left in the half. The lead grew to as many as 18 late in the first half, and at the break it was 39-21 in favor of the Bucs. ... The defensive effort by ETSU was the key to its first-half success, as Morehead State shot just 28 percent from the floor and committed nine turnovers. ETSU outscored the Eagles 8-0 off those turnovers and held a 17-8 advantage in bench points. ... After holding Morehead State to that low shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes, the Bucs watched the Eagles shoot an impressive 56 percent from the floor in the second half to help power their rally. After falling behind 56-34 with 12:58 left in regulation, the Eagles ultimately outscored ETSU 38-19 the rest of the way. ... Morehead got to within five points at 70-65 with 23 seconds left, and later made it 72-68 with 17 seconds remaining, but ETSU connected on enough foul shots at the end to hold on.
The series vs. Western Carolina
ETSU leads the all-time series 48-24 and had won 17 straight matchups with the Catamounts before losing to Western Carolina 67-61 in the first round of the 2015 SoCon Tournament back on March 7 of last year.
Last time out against Western Carolina
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 7, 2015) – Entering Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup with Western Carolina at the Southern Conference Tournament, the ETSU men’s basketball team had enjoyed 17 straight wins over the Catamounts, a streak dating back to the 1997-98 season. ... Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, they could not make it 18. ... Western Carolina senior guard James Sinclair scored a game-high 30 points – 21 coming in the first half – helping to power the Catamounts past the Bucs in a hard-fought 67-61 overtime win at the U.S. Cellular Center. After trailing for all but the first four minutes of the game, ETSU battled back to makeup a five-point deficit in the final minute of regulation and forced overtime, but the Bucs ran out of steam in the extra five minutes of play. ... Along with Sinclair’s 30-point effort, the Catamounts also got 16 points from junior guard Mike Brown, as both players finished with double-doubles. For the Bucs, junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) finished with a team-high 17 points, while senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) and sophomore guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) netted 14 and 11 points, respectively. Merriweather finished with a double-double courtesy of his 10 rebounds. ... Both teams struggled offensively throughout the game, with ETSU shooting just 32 percent from the field and Western Carolina connecting on just 33 percent of its shots. Both teams finished with 47 rebounds each, but the Bucs were hampered by 19 turnovers in the contest. ... ... After trailing 35-27 at the break, the Bucs cut the Catamounts lead to three points by scoring the first five points of the half, but Western continued to hold the advantage throughout the half and led 56-51 with just over a minute left in regulation. At that point, Sinclair missed the first shot of a one-and-one opportunity, which was followed by the only made 3-pointer of the day for ETSU senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), who finished his final game at ETSU with eight points on 2-of-11 shooting from the floor. ... The Bucs again sent the Catamounts to the line seconds later, but Brown missed the one-and-one opportunity, setting up a game-tying basket by Wilson. After a Western timeout, Sinclair then missed a contested jumper at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. ... In the extra period, Western went up quickly 60-56, but sophomore guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.) made three of four free throw attempts to make it 60-59 with 1:13 left. Unfortunately for the Bucs, they could never gain the lead and ultimately fell 67-61.
Ge’Lawn doing it all for Bucs
Senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn’s game-winning shot at Georgia Tech (11/22) is just the most obvious indictation of the play and leadership he has displayed so far at ETSU ... Heading into the Western Carolina matchup, Guyn leads the Bucs in scoring (18.4 ppg) and blocks (0.9 bpg), and is second in steals (1.3 spg) ... He is also third in assists (2.2 apg), and fourth in rebounding (3.8 rpg).
Cromer meeting expectations as offensive threat
When transfer junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) joined the Buccaneers, he was touted as a scoring threat and a player that would provide some offensive bunch ... Cromer has lived up to that billing, and is currently second on the team with 15.2 points per game. ... Cromer scored a career high 25 points in the Bucs most recent win over Morehead State (12/30), and in the Bucs’ win over Eastern Kentucky, he showed a balanced offensive attack with 22 points, five assists, seven rebounds and eight free throws.
Bucs make history with win at Georgia Tech
While ETSU has enjoyed its share of wins over “major” opposition in the past, the Bucs’ win over Georgia Tech earlier this season marked the programs first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference school since defeating N.C. State back in 1991 ... It was also the team’s first win over a “Power 5” Conference team since dropping Arkansas back during the 2009-10 season, and the first win over Georgia Tech since the 1978-79 campaign.
It is a new day for the ETSU men’s basketball program, as the Buccaneers welcome first-year head coach Steve Forbes and his assistant coaching staff to the program for the 2015-16 season ... Forbes, a highly successful assistant coach at the Division I level at programs such as Tennessee, Wichita State and Texas A&M, wasted no time revamping the ETSU roster, as the program’s lineup has not seen this much restructuring since the start of the 1997 season ... Returning just six players from last season’s squad, Forbes and company have utilized their vast recruiting ties to bring in 10 new players to the program … This group of 10 will include four transfers from Division I programs such as Cincinnati, Indiana, Missouri and Witchita State, along with four junior college transfers and two incoming high school prospects
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 871 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.
Bucs postseason resume ranks among mid-major bests
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) ... The Bucs made their second trip all-time to the CIT Postseason Tournament in 2014, marking the program’s 13th postseason tournament appearance all-time ... In the Bucs first CIT appearance in 2011, 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 ... In 2014, the Bucs went 1-1, defeating fellow Southern Conference member Chattanooga before falling to Towson in the quarterfinals.
Bucs picked 4th; Merriweather named All-SoCon
The ETSU men’s basketball team has been picked to finish fourth in the Southern Conference standings by both the league’s coaches and media, according to the preseason polls released by the league office on Thursday. ... While Chattanooga was tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the league and the Mocs’ Casey Jones was selected as the preseason player of the year, ETSU junior guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) was named to the SoCon preseason all-conference team. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams or student-athletes.
Returning players to be counted on in ’15-16
As for returning players from last year’s squad who are expected to provide valuable minutes this year, junior forward A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) leads the group after averaging 10.3 points and 6.1 rebounds a year ago, while providing the Bucs valuable defensive skills with a 1.3 steals per contest … Along with Merriweather, the Bucs also return senior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), who averaged 12.6 points a game last season, senior guard Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.), who finished with a team-high 3.1 assists per contest, sophomore guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), who averaged 4.1 points per game, and junior forward Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.), who finished with 2.9 points and 4.9 rebounds a game in limited action a year ago.
Newcomers galore for Forbes and company
While Merriweather, McClain, Wilson and Bradford return in the backcourt, the Bucs have also added a wealth of talent at those positions with the addition of a pair of Division I senior transfers Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) from Cincinnati and Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) from Missouri … Both Guyn and Bello completed their degrees at their previous schools, meaning both are eligible to compete immediately at ETSU, and both are expected to play extensive minutes this season … In addition, junior college transfer T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) joins the Bucs after a successful career as a point producer at Columbia State, and true freshman Shemar Johnson (Columbus, Miss.) brings exceptional height to the wing position at 6-foot-6 … In the frontcourt, Banks is the lone returning player but is joined by 7-foot center Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan), who sat out last season with ETSU after transferring from Indiana … Along with those two, the Bucs have also added help for the inside game this season by signing junior college transfers Nigel Holley (Wilmington, N.C.) and Abednego “Benny” Lufile (Burlington, Ontario, Canada), as well as true freshman post Toriano Stokes (Memphis, Tenn.) … Beyond those players that will be eligible this season, the Bucs have also added Indiana transfer Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Wichita State transfer Tevin Glass (Greensboro, N.C.) who will miss this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Wilson eyeing program’s 3-point record
Already a 1,000-point scorer, senior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) has an opportunity to put his name in the ETSU basketball record books again this season as the most prolific 3-point shooter in school history ... Currently tied for third on the career list with 223 makes from beyond the arc, Wilson finds himself 53 makes behind the program leader Courtney Pigram (Memphis), who made 276 3-pointers during his career from 2005-09 ... Wilson has averaged 70 makes a year during his previous three seasons at ETSU, meaning if he can replicate his “average” this year he should have a shot to take the top spot. ... Unfortunately for Wilson, at this point of the season he is averaging just one 3-pointer a game.