January 04, 20161st2ndFinal
N.C. Central284068
Stats at a GlanceETSUNCCUM
FG Percentage.439 (25-57) .434 (23-53)
3P FG Percentage.238 (5-21) .316 (6-19)
FT Percentage.708 (17-24) .615 (16-26)
Offensive Rebounds128
Defensive Rebounds3024
Total Rebounds4232
Bench Points3232
PointsISAAC BANKS - 12
T.J. CROMER - 12
COLE - 22
ReboundsISAAC BANKS - 12
AssistsT.J. CROMER - 4
GRAF - 5
GRAF - 1
BlocksGE'LAWN GUYN - 1
Bucs set for final non-conference game Monday at N.C. Central
The ETSU men's basketball team has won three of its last four games and is aiming to keep that momentum going Monday at N.C. Central.
Bucs set for final non-conference game Monday at N.C. Central
Sunday, January 3, 2016

DURHAM, N.C. (Jan. 4, 2016) – Fresh off arguably its most complete effort of the season, the ETSU men’s basketball team will hope to keep that momentum going as the Buccaneers face another road contest Monday night at North Carolina Central.

Tip is set for 8 p.m. inside McDougald-McLendon Gym and the game can be heard on any of the Buccaneer Sports Network’s radio affiliates, or through live audio streaming at ETSUBucs.com.

This will be the final regular season non-conference game of the year for the Bucs, who are looking to pick up their third road win of the year after having opening up Southern Conference play with an 82-66 road victory over Western Carolina on Saturday. In that game, the Bucs posted a season high with 19 assists, while also holding the Catamounts’ offense to just 32 percent shooting for the game.

For more on Monday’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.


Game Notes

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

CULLOWHEE, N.C. (Jan. 2, 2016) – The ETSU men’s basketball team opened its 2016 Southern Conference schedule in style, putting together one of its most complete efforts of the season in an 82-66 road win over Western Carolina at the Ramsey Center. ... Offensively, the Buccaneers (7-6 overall, 1-0 in SoCon play) built a 21-point first-half lead and finished the game shooting 53 percent from both the field and 3-point range. Defensively, ETSU held the Catamounts (5-9, 0-1) to 32 percent shooting from the field and just 11 percent from beyond the arc. The Bucs also posted a season-high 19 assists. ... The Bucs got a team-high 16 points from junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.), while senior guards Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) and Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) pitched in 15 and 10 points, respectively. On the inside, junior forward Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.) had a strong game with 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds. ... The first half script played out perfectly for the Bucs. With a balanced inside-outside offensive attack and a lockdown defensive effort, ETSU shot 63 percent from the floor and forced the Catamounts into nine turnovers, racing out to a quick double-digit lead in the opening minutes of the game. ... The Bucs’ advantage ultimately grew to as many as 21 points at 41-19 before Western tried to respond with a 10-3 run in the waning minutes of the half, cutting the ETSU lead to 15 at 44-29. However, by the end of the half, the Bucs still led by 16 at 48-32. ... In the first 20 minutes, the Bucs got a team-high 10 points and four rebounds from Banks, while Cromer and senior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) each had eight in the opening half. ... After the intermission, ETSU increased its lead to 19 at 53-34, but Western Carolina rallied to put together a quick 11-2 burst and make it 55-45 with 12 minutes left in regulation. ETSU weathered rally well, and ultimately ended the game with the same 16-point advantage it held at halftime.


The series vs. N.C. Central

This will be just the third meeting ever between the Bucs and N.C. Central, with ETSU holding a 2-0 lead in the series ... The first meeting was an 85-66 Bucs’ win back during the 1978-79 season, while ETSU picked up a 61-59 victory last season back on Jan. 31, 2015 inside Freedom Hall.


Last time out against N.C. Central

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2015) – Senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.) scored the final 12 points and finished with a game-high 24, as the ETSU men’s basketball team closed on a 15-1 offensive run to cap a dramatic 61-59 comeback win over North Carolina Central inside Freedom Hall. ... Riley hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in regulation, and the Bucs defense then held the Eagles on their final offensive possession of the game. With the win, ETSU improved to 13-8 on the season while also snapping the Eagles 10-game winning streak. With the loss, North Carolina Central dropped to 16-6 on the year. ... The Bucs trailed by double digits throughout most of the second half and were facing a 12-point deficit at 58-46 with 5:44 left in regulation. At that point, sophomore guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.) made three of four free throws on back-to-back possessions, and Riley hit a 3-pointer to make it 58-52. ... N.C. Central’s Anthony McDonald then made one of two at the foul line before Riley closed the game with nine straight points, including the game-winning 3-pointer. The Eagles had one last opportunity to tie or win, but the Bucs forced N.C. Central’s Karamo Jawara to force up a desperation 3-pointer that missed the mark at the buzzer.

... For the game, Riley was joined in double figures by junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), who finished with 10. The Eagles got a team-high 22 from McDonald, while Jordan Parks and Jawara netted 14 and 10 points, respectively. ... ETSU finished the game with a season-low four turnovers, shooting 36 percent from the floor and holding its own on the glass, as the Eagles held a 34-33 edge in the paint. ... N.C. Central finished the game shooting 46 percent from the floor.


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 (17.7 ppg), blocks (0.9 bpg) and steals (1.2 spg) ... He is also third in assists (2.3 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’ 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. ... In ETSU’s last outing, Cromer scored a team-high 16 points in a win over Western Carolina.


Dishing out the assists

As the Bucs adjust and learn the new offensive system of first-year head coach Steve Forbes, the “buy-in” is starting to show up in the stat sheets ... In ETSU’s last game against Western Carolina, the Bucs posted a season high 19 assists, compared to the team’s season average of 12.6 assists per contest.


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.


Buc bits

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 872 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 ... Wilson recently passed ETSU legend Keith “Mister” Jennings for sole possession of third place on the all-time list with 225 makes from beyond the arc ... Wilson finds himself 51 makes behind the program leader Courtney Pigram (Memphis), who had 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 over one 3-pointer a game.