February 09, 20171st2ndFinal
The Citadel323769
ETSU454590
Stats at a GlanceCITETSU
FG Percentage.338 (24-71) .485 (32-66)
3P FG Percentage.375 (15-40) .412 (14-34)
FT Percentage.667 (6-9) .600 (12-20)
Offensive Rebounds1313
Defensive Rebounds2736
Total Rebounds4049
Turnovers2019
Steals810
Bench Points4737
LeadersCITETSU
PointsPreston Parks - 22
T.J. CROMER - 17
ReboundsLeandro Allende - 7
TEVIN GLASS - 8
AssistsFrankie Johnson - 3
Preston Parks - 3
T.J. CROMER - 5
StealsPreston Parks - 3
JERMAINE LONG - 5
BlocksZane Najdawi - 2
H. MOSQUERA-PEREA - 3
ETSU returns home to take on The Citadel Thursday night
ETSU returns home to take on The Citadel Thursday night
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 8, 2017) – The ETSU men’s basketball team opens a key three-game homestand Thursday night as the Buccaneers take on The Citadel. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Freedom Hall.

The Bucs split their most recent road swing as ETSU defeated VMI 81-71 on Thursday night, while suffering a 79-76 setback at Wofford on Monday. Following the split, the Bucs sit at 18-6, 8-3 in the Southern Conference and are one game back of league-leading Furman.

Despite having its four-game win streak snapped on Monday night, ETSU carries a three-game home win streak into Thursday’s matchup with the Bulldogs. Five Buccaneers are averaging double figures in scoring over this three-game stretch with wins over Western Carolina, Wofford and Chattanooga, while the team is averaging 76.7 points and shooting 53 percent (82-for-156) from the field. Senior A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) and junior Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tenn.) are a combined 22-of-40 from the field and 27-for-31 from the free-throw line in ETSU’s last three home games, while senior Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) is averaging 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. Glass is also shooting 77 percent (17-for-22) over this stretch of home games.

Overall, senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) – who picked up his second SoCon Player of the Week award of the season on Tuesday – ranks second in the conference in scoring (18.4) and three-point field goals made (3.0). Cromer and Merriweather both enter Thursday’s game in search of joining the 1,000-point club. Merriweather is 12 points shy of the mark, while Cromer needs 22 points to reach 1,000.

As a group, ETSU ranks among the NCAA Division I national leaders in total steals (16th, 199), free-throw attempts (16th, 611), field-goal percentage (18th, 49.0), steals per game (8.3, 20th), turnovers forced (23rd, 16.1), scoring margin (32nd, 10.9), free-throws made (36th, 416), scoring offense (38th, 80.6) and win percentage (44th, 75.0).

The Citadel has lost its last seven games and enter Thursday’s contest at 9-16, 2-10. Six of the seven games during the Bulldogs’ losing streak have been decided by 10 points or less. The Bulldogs are searching for their first win since knocking off VMI back on Jan. 7, and their first road win since defeating Wofford 104-103 (overtime) on Jan. 2.

The Bulldogs have two players averaging over 15 points per game in freshman guard Preston Parks (15.8 ppg) and sophomore center Zane Najdawi (15.7 ppg). Parks has drained 52 three-pointers, while Najdawi leads the team in rebounds (6.9).

As a team, The Citadel leads the country in scoring offense (93.1) and has scored over 100 points seven times this season. In addition, the Bulldogs rank second in three-point field goals made (306), three-point field goal attempts (910), and total steals (245), third in free-throws made (477) and turnovers forced (18.3), sixth in total assists (436) and offensive rebounds per game (14.3), eighth in free-throw attempts (625) and ninth in turnover margin (4.1).

Thursday marks the 56th all-time meeting between the two programs with ETSU holding a 39-16 advantage in the series ... The Bucs have won the last three meetings, including a 115-71 victory over the Bulldogs last month in Charleston ... ETSU is averaging 94.3 points per game during this three-game win streak over The Citadel ... In three career games vs. the Bulldogs, Cromer is averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 rebounds, while Merriweather is posting 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 61 percent  (14-23) in three career games.

The game will be streamed live on ESPN3 with “Voice of the Bucs” Jay Sandos (play-by-play) and Bruce Tranbarger (color analyst) on the call. Fans can also listen to the call on WXSM-AM 640 The Extreme Sports Monster beginning with the Atmos Energy Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m. Live stats will also be provided via StatBroadcast or by visiting BucsStats.com. For tickets to Thursday’s game, please call the ETSU Ticket Office at (423) 439-3878 or click here to purchase them online. 

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. The Citadel

Thursday marks the 56th all-time meeting between the two programs with ETSU holding a 39-16 advantage in the series ... The Bucs have won the last three meetings, including a 115-71 victory over the Bulldogs last month in Charleston ... ETSU is averaging 94.3 points per game during this three-game win streak over The Citadel ... In three career games vs. the Bulldogs, T.J. Cromer is averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 rebounds, while A.J. Merriweather is posting 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 61 percent  (14-23) in three career games.

Last time out vs. The Citadel

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Jan. 5, 2017) – The Citadel Bulldogs may have entered Thursday night’s game leading the Southern Conference in scoring this season, but it was the ETSU men’s basketball team that put on a show. Scoring a season high 115 points and using a stifling defensive effort to hold The Citadel 29 points below its season scoring average, the Buccaneers took the bite out of the Bulldogs and cruised to a 115-71 win inside McAlister Field House. With the victory, the Bucs improved to 12-3 overall and 2-0 in SoCon play, while the Bulldogs dropped to 8-9, 1-3. Seven ETSU players reached double figures in the win, led by a game high 19 points each from senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) and junior guard Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.). Meanwhile, senior guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) finished with 14 points, senior posts Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) posted 12 points apiece, junior guard Jermaine Long (New Orleans) netted 11, and junior post David Burrell (Milwaukee) collected 10.

Last time out

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Feb. 6, 2017) – Despite leading for the first 32 minutes of the contest, the ETSU men’s basketball team was unable to hold on as Wofford scored 23 points in the final eight minutes to rally for a 79-76 win on Monday night inside Benjamin Johnson Arena. The Bucs – who had their four-game win streak snapped – led 49-39 with 14:15 remaining and by six with nine minutes left, however, Wofford used a 12-0 run to take its first lead since the opening basket and the Terriers never trailed for the final five minutes. After falling behind, the Blue and Gold continued to battle as a pair of free throws by Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tenn.), followed by a Wofford five-second call and a T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) three-pointer from the corner made it a 77-76 game with 18 seconds remaining. The Bucs were forced to foul and Eric Garcia made both free throws, while Bradford’s attempt for a tying three-pointer was off the mark as the buzzer sounded, which secured Wofford’s third straight win. Cromer led the Bucs with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting (5-of-7 from beyond the arc) and added five rebounds in 34 minutes. Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.) both pitched in with 11 points, while Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists. As a team, ETSU shot 50.9 percent (28-55) from the field and 9-of-18 from three, however, 21 turnovers accounted for 25 points for the Terriers. Meanwhile, Wofford finished at 45 percent (24-53) from the field and drained 13 of its 25 three-point attempts, along with being plus-7 at the free throw line. The Terriers were 18-of-24, compared to ETSU’s 11-of-14 clip. The Bucs outscored Wofford in the paint, 36-16. With the loss, ETSU dropped to 18-6, 8-3 and moved one-game back of league-leading Furman, while Wofford improved to 12-13, 7-5. The Terriers have won nine of their 10 home games this season.

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

At 18-6 so far this season, the Bucs are off to the their best start since the 2003-04 ETSU team finished the regular season and tournament with five losses ... That group -- led by the trio of Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.), Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) and Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.)  went 15-0 in SoCon play before falling to College of Charleston in the regular season finale ... The 2003-04 Bucs went on to win the SoCon Tournament and gave Cincinnati a scare in the NCAA Tournament, losing to the Bearcats by three and finishing the year at 27-6 overall, one of the best seasons in school history.

Merriweather, Cromer nearing 1,000 career points

Entering Thursday’s game with The Citadel, senior guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) currently stands at 988 points for his career, while fellow senior T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) stands at 978 points ... Both players are trying to join a group of 38 ETSU players in the 1,000-point club.

Bucs currently ranked 10th by CollegeInsider.com

With their 18-6 start, the Bucs are currently ranked 10th in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, which was released on Monday ... The Bucs are joined in the ranking by Chattanooga (13th) and Furman (19th).

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 18th nationally at 49 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 68.3 clip vs. UDM is the seventh highest percentage in a D-I game this year ... The Bucs currently rank in the Top 50 in multiple categories nationally, including scoring margin, free throws attempted, scoring offense, and steals per game among others. A complete list of the Bucs current position in the national statistics can be found to the left of this note.

To 70...And Beyond

ETSU’s magic number this season is 70... When the Bucs score at least 70 points, the Blue and Gold are 16-2 this season with their two blemishes being an 83-79 setback to UNCG on Jan. 12 and the 79-76 loss at Wofford on Monday.

Bucs Bounce Back Well

For just the sixth time this season ETSU will be entering a game coming off a loss ... In the Bucs’ previous five games following a setback, the Blue and Gold are 5-0, while averaging nearly 80 points per game and defeating their opponents by 15 points per contest.

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 first 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 919 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.  ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.

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 24 games of the year, the Bucs’ bench players have outscored their opponents in 17 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 7.0 points per game this year, and David Burrell (Milwaukee), who is averaging 8.0 points and 3.7 rebounds a game, have also provided much-needed production.

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.

For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2016-17 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.