December 22, 20161st2ndFinal
Tennessee324072
ETSU234568
Stats at a GlanceUTETSU
FG Percentage.436 (24-55) .375 (24-64)
3P FG Percentage.316 (6-19) .471 (8-17)
FT Percentage.667 (18-27) .706 (12-17)
Offensive Rebounds1715
Defensive Rebounds2720
Total Rebounds4435
Turnovers1713
Steals68
Bench Points4315
LeadersUTETSU
PointsMostella - 25
T.J. CROMER - 14
DESONTA BRADFORD - 14
ReboundsWilliams - 9
H. MOSQUERA-PEREA - 6
A.J. MERRIWEATHER - 6
AssistsParker - 4
DESONTA BRADFORD - 8
StealsHubbs III - 2
DESONTA BRADFORD - 2
A.J. MERRIWEATHER - 2
BlocksWilliams - 4
H. MOSQUERA-PEREA - 2
Full house ready for Bucs vs. Vols Thursday
Senior A.J. Merriweather and the rest of the Buccaneers will host Tennessee Thursday night for the first time in 53 years.
Full house ready for Bucs vs. Vols Thursday
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2016) – The 53-year wait is nearly over.

For the first time since the 1963-64 season, the ETSU men’s basketball team will host the Tennessee Volunteers Thursday night inside Freedom Hall. A sold out crowd of 6,000 plus will be on hand in support of the Buccaneers, as the team looks to improve on its already impressive 9-2 start to the season.

For those unable to acquire tickets for the game, the contest will air live on both video streaming courtesy of ESPN3.com, and on local television in the Tri-Cities, Knoxville and Nashville. The game will air locally on WEMT Fox 39, while WVLT’s MyVLT in Knoxville and WUXP’s MyTV in Nashville will also carry the game. On the radio, the Buccaneer Sports Network will air on flagship WXSM-AM 640 and affiliate station NASH ICON-FM 104.9, as well as on the live audio link located at ETSUBucs.com.

Tennessee enters the game at 6-5 on the year and the Vols have won three of their last five games. Meanwhile, ETSU enters the contest ranked ninth nationally in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, and having won seven of its last eight games.

For more on Thursday’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 2016-17 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.

 

Buc bits

In his first season as head coach of the ETSU men’s basketball program in 2015-16, Steve Forbes wasted little time reinvigorating the Buccaneers’ program with an energetic style of play, an engaging approach with the fan base, and plenty of success on the court … In all, the Bucs finished the with 24 wins – which marks the program’s third highest win total in the modern era – and collected 14 victories in Southern Conference play, which is second only to the 15 collected by the Bucs’ 2003-04 squad … ETSU also reached the Southern Conference Tournament finals, which marked the 12th time the program has played in a conference championship game, and the team also earned a postseason tournament berth for the 14th time with an invite to the inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament … Heading into the 2016-17 season, the Bucs will be losing players such as first-team All-SoCon performer Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.), 1,000-point club member Lester Wilson (Knoxville), high-flying dunk specialist Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.), and steady point-guard presence Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) … Last year, Guyn averaged 18.3 points per game, while Bello and Wilson combined for another 16 points a contest … However, not all of the production from a year ago is gone, as All-SoCon selection T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) returns after averaging 14.9 points and a team high 3.1 assists per game a year ago … In addition, players such as All-SoCon Tournament selection Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), who averaged 7.6 points and 2.9 rebounds a year ago, and veterans like A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.) will be back on the court for the Bucs … Post Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) will also return after a season in which he showed marked improvement throughout and finished averaging 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game … Fans will also get to see two new players on the floor this year that sat out as redshirts a year ago … This duo includes transfers Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) from Indiana and Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) from Wichita State … Perea and Glass are both post players who will quickly add depth and talent in the paint … Along with these eight returning players, the Bucs will also be adding six new recruits to the team, a group that includes a couple of Junior College All-Americans and a great deal of offensive firepower … The class is comprised of guards Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.), Julian Walters (Madison, Wis.), Jason Williams (Detroit), Jermaine Long (New Orleans) and transfer Kanayo Obi-Rapu (Greensboro, N.C.), along with forward David Burrell (Milwaukee).

 

The series vs. Tennessee

In a series that dates back to 1960, the Volunteers hold a 14-2 advantage over the Buccaneers all-time ... ETSU’s two wins came in back-to-back meetings in 1989 and 1991, but the Bucs have since dropped nine straight to Tennessee, including several tightly-contested games, such as a 66-63 loss back on Dec. 23, 2011 and a 76-67 loss to the Volunteers in Knoxville exactly one year ago on Dec. 22, 2015.

 

Last time out against Tennessee

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. ... The Bucs got a game-high 22 points from seniorguard 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. ... 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 decisive  3-pointer on the right wing.

 

Last time out

MOREHEAD, Ky. (Dec. 17, 2016) – With a last-second win in its previous game against Southeastern Conference opponent Mississippi State and a long awaited home contest with Tennessee looming on the horizon next week, Saturday’s game with Morehead State seemed like a perfect trap game for the ETSU men’s basketball team. ... But the Buccaneers would have none of that. ... Building a lead of as many as 23 points in the first half, the Bucs held off a pair of comeback attempts in the second half and bested the Eagles 78-68 Saturday afternoon inside Ellis Johnson Arena. With the win, the Bucs have won seven of their last eight games and improved to 9-2 on the season, while Morehead State dropped to 2-8. ..

Shooting 50 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3-point range for the game, the Bucs were led by senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) with 23 points and seven assists, while fellow senior Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and junior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) finished with 13 points apiece.

 

Off and running: Bucs’ start one of the best ever

At 9-2 so far this season, the Bucs are off to their best start since the 1990-91 ETSU team opened the year at 14-1 ... That group -- led by ETSU legend and current Lees-McRae assistant coach Keith “Mister” Jennings   -- went on to go 21-2 through their first 23 games and reached No. 10 in the national rankings ... That team also won a third straight Southern Conference Tournament title and advanced to the NCAAs for the third of four straight trips to March Madness.

 

Bucs currently ranked 9th by CollegeInsider.com

With their 9-2 start, the Bucs have moved up to No. 9 in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, which was released last Monday.

 

Bucs picked second; Cromer, Mos.-Perea earn honors

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Oct. 26, 2016) – The ETSU men’s basketball team was picked to finish a close second behind Chattanooga in both the preseason coaches and media polls released earlier in the year by the Southern Conference. ... ETSU was slotted second (74) and received two first-place votes in the coaches poll, along with four first place votes in the media poll. Head coach Steve Forbes led the Bucs to a 24-12 mark in his first season at ETSU. The Bucs went 14-4 in league play and advanced to the title game of the league tournament. ETSU advanced to the postseason in 2016 and participated in the Vegas 16 tournament. ... In addition, the Buccaneers’ placed senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) and senior post Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) on the preseason All-SoCon team. Cromer was an all-conference selection a year ago, while Mosquera-Perea is entering his first season at ETSU.

Bucs ranking among nation’s best statistically

Entering November’s Sanford Pentagon Showcase, the Bucs led the nation in field goal percentage, shooting a blistering 58.8 percent from the floor three games into the season ... Currently, ETSU ranks 33rd nationally at 48.8 perent ... With a 68.3 percent clip in the game against UDM, ETSU came up just half a percentage shy of the program’s single game record ... Other categories where the Bucs are excelling include rebound margin, free throw attempts and win-loss percentage ... A complete list of the Bucs’ current position in the national statistics can be found in the column to the left of this note.

 

Back-to-back seasons with wins over “Major” opponents

While ETSU has enjoyed its share of wins over “major” opposition in the past, the Bucs’ have now posted back-to-back seasons with wins over teams from “Power 5” Conferences ... The Bucs dropped Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech last season, and followed that victory with a win over Mississippi State earlier this year ... The win over GT  was the firs over an ACC foe since defeating N.C. State back in 1991 ... The MSU win was the first since dropping the same Bulldogs back in 2010.

 

Bucs continue on 3-point streak list

Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 906 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.  ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.

 

Banks money so far this season from the field

The Bucs posted high shooting percentages in two of their first three games theisseason, and much of that is due to the accurate efforts of the team’s inside players ... For instance, entering the Tennessee game, senior post Isaac Banks (New Orleans) is 27-for-34 from the field this season, ranking first in the country at 79 percent from the field ...  Along with Banks, players like fellow senior post Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) is 38-of-63 from the field for a 60percent clip from the field.

 

Depth, bench play coming through in the clutch for Bucs

The depth of the ETSU bench is becoming more apparent with each game this season ... Through the first 11 games of the year, the Bucs’ bench players have outscored their opponents in eight of those contests ... For instance, in the win over UC Irvine (11/27), junior guard Julian Walters (Madison, Wis.) came off the bench to hit three critical 3-pointers in the game, and in the win over South Dakota State Jermaine Long (New Orleans) entered the game to post five rebounds, five points and two asissts in just 11 minutes of game action. ... Other players like Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.), who is averaging 7.6 points per game this year, and David Burrell (Milwaukee), who is averaging 8.3 points and 3.7 rebounds a game, have also provided much-needed production.

 

ETSU offense thrives on assists, unselfish approach

Through nine games this season, the Bucs have dished out 176 assists on 299 total made baskets ... In other words, 59 percent of the time a made shot by the Bucs is coming off an assist ... Three times this season, the Bucs have eclipsed 20 assists, with those games coming against Fordham, Detroit Mercy  and South Dakota State.

 

Basketball Times’ ranks ETSU JuCo recruiting class #2

In a Basketball Times’ story by Tony Jimenez earlier this year, ETSU head coach Steve Forbes and his staff are were praised for their recruiting efforts at the junior college level. ... In fact, the Bucs’ 2016-17 recruiting class -- which includes JuCo first team All-Americans -- was ranked No. 2 in the nation behind only Southeastern Conference member Arkansas ... In all, the Bucs’ seven-player recruiting class for this year included five junior college additions.

 

Forbes makes USA Today list of “coaches on the rise”

ETSU head men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes was recently named to USA Today’s list of 10 coaches on the rise heading into the 2016-17 season. Below is an excerpt from the story by Jon Rothstein and a link to the entire list: Which coaches are on the rise in college basketball? Check out our list below as we look at 10 coaches in the sport trending upwards. In no particular order … Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State: Forbes won 24 games in his first season as a head coach in Division I and should be a perennial contender in the SoCon. A tenacious recruiter when he was an assistant at both Tennessee and Wichita State, Forbes knows how to find players. The Bucs currently have three players on their roster — Peter Jurkin (Indiana), Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Indiana), and Tevin Glass (Wichita State) that were all recruited to play at a significantly higher level before Forbes lured them to East Tennessee State.