January 12, 20171st2ndFinal
UNCG434083
ETSU374279
Stats at a GlanceUNCGETSU
FG Percentage.500 (26-52) .490 (25-51)
3P FG Percentage.650 (13-20) .444 (8-18)
FT Percentage.818 (18-22) .808 (21-26)
Offensive Rebounds87
Defensive Rebounds2322
Total Rebounds3129
Turnovers1716
Steals59
Bench Points1425
LeadersUNCGETSU
PointsFrancis Alonso - 24
DESONTA BRADFORD - 17
ReboundsJames Dickey - 7
H. MOSQUERA-PEREA - 7
AssistsDiante Baldwin - 4
DESONTA BRADFORD - 3
StealsJordy Kuiper - 2
JERMAINE LONG - 2
DESONTA BRADFORD - 2
BlocksMarvin Smith - 2
TEVIN GLASS - 1
DAVID BURRELL - 1
ISAAC BANKS - 1
DEVONTAVIUS PAYNE - 1
First-place Bucs host UNCG in SoCon battle Thursday
The Bucs are encouraging fans to #FillFreedom for Thursday night's game with the Spartans.
First-place Bucs host UNCG in SoCon battle Thursday
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 11, 2017) – Currently sitting atop the Southern Conference standings at 13-3 overall and 3-0 in league play, the first-place ETSU men’s basketball team will face second-place UNC Greensboro Thursday night at Freedom Hall.

Tip for this critical SoCon matchup is set for 7 p.m., and the game will air via live video streaming courtesy of ESPN3.com. The Buccaneer Sports Network will also have the live broadcast of the game on its radio affiliates and via the live link at ETSUBucs.com. Fans interested in tickets for this special #FillFreedom game can do so by clicking on the ticket link at ETSUBucs.com.

The Spartans, who are 12-5 overall and 3-1 in SoCon play, are one of four teams tied for second place in the league standings at this early stage of the regular season race. Other teams in the league at 3-1 include Chattanooga, Samford and Furman.

For the Bucs, who enter the game at No. 9 in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll and are the highest ranked SoCon team in the national ranking, this will be another opportunity to maintain the momentum of a 13-3 start to the season and an unblemished record in SoCon play.

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 five 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.), Jason Williams (Detroit), Jermaine Long (New Orleans) and transfer Kanayo Obi-Rapu (Greensboro, N.C.), along with forward David Burrell (Milwaukee).

 

The series vs. UNC Greensboro

The Bucs hold a 14-9 lead in the all-time series against the Spartans, having won the last three meetings, including a 68-65 road victory back on Feb. 6, 2016.

 

Last time out vs. UNC Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. (Feb. 6, 2016) – Welcome home, Deuce Bello. ... The ETSU men’s basketball team’s senior guard – who grew up in Greensboro, N.C. – scored 10 of the Buccaneers’ final 15 points, helping power a game-defining 15-3 run to close out the contest and give ETSU a remarkable 68-65 comeback win over Southern Conference foe UNC Greensboro inside Fleming Gym. ... The Bucs, who trailed by nine points at 62-53 with 3:36 left in regulation, went to their full-court, pressure defense in the final minutes to secure the win. ... During the final ETSU surge, Bello’s order of scoring plays included a made 3-pointer, a dunk, another made 3-pointer, and another dunk off a miss by fellow senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) that made it 68-65. On the possession prior to Bello’s final dunk, Guyn had given the Bucs the lead thanks to a traditional and-one play as he hit a layup,  was fouled, and then sank a  foul shot to make it 66-65. ... Bello finished with a game-high 16 points, while junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.)  itched in 11, and both sophomore guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) and Guyn finished with 11 points apiece. Guyn played 31 minutes despite suffering from a stomach virus. ... For the game, the Bucs shot 50 percent from the field and 56 percent from 3-point range, and held advantages in most all statistical categories including points in the paint (26-16), points off turnovers (19-7), fast break points (12-4) and bench points (37-17). ... For the Spartans, Francis Alfonso matched Bello with 16 points, while and Kayel Locke finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

 

Last time out

MACON, Ga. (Jan. 7, 2017) – Saturday’s game at Mercer was a tale of two halves for ETSU senior T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.). And the second half was a classic. ... Playing in front of a large contingent of friends and family from his nearby hometown, Cromer struggled with his shot in the first half, scoring just four points before the halftime break and going 1-of-6 from the field. However, the 6-foot-3 guard – who entered the game as the Southern Conference’s leading scorer – looked like it after the intermission, going a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and finishing with a team high 23 points, helping the Buccaneers overcome a seven-point second half deficit to race past the Bears 67-58 inside Hawkins Arena. ... With the win, the Bucs return to Johnson City with back-to-back SoCon road victories, improving to 13-3 overall and 3-0 in conference play. Meanwhile, Mercer dropped to 7-10, 1-3. ... Along with Cromer, the Bucs got 15 points from junior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), as the team shot 67 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range in the second half. For the game, the Bucs finished at 51 percent from the floor after shooting just 39 percent in the first half. ... For Mercer, junior transfer Ria’n Holland scored a game high 24 points and was the only Bears’ player in double figures.

 

Cromer named SoCon Player of the Week over holidays

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Jan. 3, 2017) – Senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) has been named the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for all games played Dec. 20 through Jan. 2, as he led the ETSU men’s basketball team to a 2-1 record over the holidays by averaging over 21 points per game. ... The guard scored in double figures in all three games for ETSU, including a season-high 30 points in a 92-71 win over Savannah State on Dec. 29.  The Bucs began Southern Conference play with a 102-75 victory over VMI on Dec. 31, and Cromer once again paced the Bucs with 21 points. ... The senior connected on 50 percent of his field goals over the three games and was 12-of-24 from 3-point range.

 

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

At 13-3 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. ... With the win over Savannah State in their non-conference finale, the Bucs also became the first team since that same 1990-91 squad to secure 10 non-conference wins in a season.

 

Bucs currently ranked 9th by CollegeInsider.com

With their 13-3 start, the Bucs are currently ranked 9th in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, which was released on Monday ... The Bucs are now the highest ranking SoCon team, followed by Chattanooga who dropped to No. 10.

 

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 26th nationally at 48.7 percent ... 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 ... The Bucs currently rank in the Top 50 in multiple categories nationally, including rebound margin, scoring margin, free throws attempted, and 3-point percentage, among others. A complete list of the Bucs’ current position in the national statistics can be found 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 911 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 this season and that trend has continued, thanks in much part to the accurate efforts of the team’s inside players ... For instance, entering the UNC Greensboro game, senior post Isaac Banks (New Orleans) is 34-for-47 from the field this season, ranking first in the country at 72 percent ...  Along with Banks, players like senior Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) is 53-of-87 for a 61 percent mark, while junior David Burrell (Milwaukee) is 52-of-90 for a 58 percent 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 16 games of the year, the Bucs’ bench players have outscored their opponents in 11 of those contests ... For instance, in the road win over The Citadel, Jermaine Long (New Orleans) put together season highs for points (11), rebounds (5) and assists (5) in 20 minutes of play. ... Other players like Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.), who is averaging 8.3 points per game this year, and David Burrell (Milwaukee), who is averaging 8.3 points and 4.1 rebounds a game, have also provided much-needed production.

 

ETSU offense thrives on assists, unselfish approach

With a season high 24 assists in the win over Savannah State, the Bucs continued to post strong numbers in that statistical category ... Through 16 games this season, the Bucs have dished out 264 assists on 451 total made baskets ... In other words, over 60 percent of the time a made shot by the Bucs is coming off an assist ... Five times this season, the Bucs have eclipsed 20 assists, with those games coming against Fordham, Detroit Mercy, South Dakota State, Savannah State and The Citadel.

 

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.