February 11, 20171st2ndFinal
Mercer274471
ETSU444488
Stats at a GlanceMERETSU
FG Percentage.511 (23-45) .534 (31-58)
3P FG Percentage.375 (6-16) .480 (12-25)
FT Percentage.704 (19-27) .700 (14-20)
Offensive Rebounds311
Defensive Rebounds2225
Total Rebounds2536
Turnovers1011
Steals46
Bench Points1829
LeadersMERETSU
PointsJordan Strawberry - 16
T.J. CROMER - 28
ReboundsStephon Jelks - 7
T.J. CROMER - 8
AssistsStephon Jelks - 2
Rashad Lewis - 2
Jordan Strawberry - 2
DESONTA BRADFORD - 7
StealsRia'n Holland - 3
A.J. MERRIWEATHER - 2
BlocksStephon Jelks - 1
Cory Kilby - 1
Andrew Fishler - 1
ISAAC BANKS - 1
T.J. CROMER - 1
A.J. MERRIWEATHER - 1
DESONTA BRADFORD - 1
Bucs-Bears to clash Saturday afternoon on ESPN3
Bucs-Bears to clash Saturday afternoon on ESPN3
Friday, February 10, 2017

Postgame autograph session planned for Fan Appreciation Day

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 10, 2017) – As seniors T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) and A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) eye the 1,000-point milestone, the ETSU men’s basketball team looks to extend its home win streak as the Bucs host Mercer Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. inside Freedom Hall.

Following Saturday’s game, the ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will hold a postgame autograph session on the court for its Fan Appreciation promotion. Fans will receive a Buccaneer Basketball poster and will be given the chance to meet the players and coaching staff.

Both Cromer and Merriweather look to become the 39th and 40th players in program history to reach the 1,000-point club. Cromer is five points off the mark as he has scored 995 points in 61 career games, while Merriweather is six points with 994 points in 110 career games. The last Buccaneer to reach the 1,000-point milestone was Lester Wilson back on Jan. 22, 2015.

ETSU (19-6, 9-3 Southern Conference) is coming off a 90-69 win on Thursday night over The Citadel. Four players scored in double figures as the Bucs extended their home win streak to four straight games. Cromer scored a team-high 17 points, while the bench produced 37 points – including an 11-point, 5-rebound effort by David Burrell (Milwaukee, Wis.). Freshman Jason Williams (Detroit, Mich.) had his best collegiate game as he set career highs in points (9), three-pointers made (3), steals (2) and minutes played (22).

During its four-game home win streak, ETSU’s five starters (T.J. Cromer, Desonta Bradford, Hanner Mosquera-Perea A.J. Merriweather and Tevin Glass) are all averaging double figures in scoring, while the team is averaging 80.0 points per game and winning by 14 points. The Bucs are also shooting over 50 percent from the field (51.4) and out-rebounding the opposition by nine (38.5-29.5).

Mercer (12-14, 6-7) has won four of its last six games and is coming off an 81-51 win at VMI on Thursday night. Five players scored in double figures in the win over the Keydets, while the Bears shot 53 percent (28-53) from the field and 85 percent at the free-throw line (17-20). Junior guard Ria’n Holland scored a team-high 18 points, while red-shirt junior Desmond Ringer just missed a double-double (10 points/9 rebounds).

Holland leads the team in scoring (17.7), steals (26), three-pointers made (66) and free-throws made (80), while Jordan Strawberry is averaging 11.2 points and 4.1 assists per game. As a team, Mercer leads the SoCon in field goal percentage defense (.405) and rebound margin (+6.2), while they also rank second in scoring defense (66.9) and free throw percentage (.766).

Five of Mercer’s seven conference losses have been decided by three points or less, while the Bears are 3-3 in SoCon road games.

The Bucs lead the all-time series over Mercer 17-8 ... The majority of the past 25 matchups were played over a nine-year span from 2005-2014, as the two teams were previously members of the Atlantic Sun Conference ... The Bucs have won the last four meetings between the teams, including a 67-58 win over the Bears last month in Macon ... Three of the last four games have been decided by nine points or less, including two decided by two points … T.J. Cromer is averaging 17.5 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists in four career games versus the Bears.

Saturday’s 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. Mercer

The Bucs lead the all-time series over Mercer 17-8 ... The majority of the past 25 matchups were played over a nine-year span from 2005-2014, as the two teams were previously members of the Atlantic Sun Conference ... The Bucs have won the last four meetings between the teams, including a 67-58 win over the Bears last month in Macon ... Three of the last four games have been decided by nine points or less, including two decided by two points … T.J. Cromer is averaging 17.5 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists in four career games versus the Bears.

Last time out vs. Mercer

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. 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.

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 9, 2017) – Coming off a tough three-point loss at Wofford on Monday, the ETSU men’s basketball team was in search of bouncing back into the win column. The Bucs did just that as four players scored in double figures – including a team-high 17-point effort by senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) – as ETSU capped off the season sweep over The Citadel with a 90-69 victory on Thursday night inside Freedom Hall. Joining Cromer in double figures were juniors Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tenn.) and David Burrell (Milwaukee, Wis.), along with senior Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia). Bradford and Mosquera-Perea both finished with 12 points, while Burrell – who was celebrating his 22nd birthday – added 11 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. Perea ended a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and totaled four rebounds and three blocks, and Bradford pulled down six boards and dished out four assists. To go with his 17 points, Cromer also filled up the stat sheet with five rebounds and five assists. Cromer and A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) just missed reaching the 1,000-point milestone as Cromer is now five points shy and Merriweather is six away. Overall, 11 different Buccaneers reached the scoring column in the 21-point win. As a team, the Buccaneer defense held the nation’s leading scoring team 24 points below their single-game average, along with limiting them to 34 percent shooting (24-for-71). ETSU’s offense shot 49 percent (32-for-66), while the Bucs’ 14 three-pointers were one shy of tying a single-game program record. Burrell and Jason Williams (Detroit, Mich.) combined for 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. ETSU also moved the ball well as they assisted on 18 of its 32 makes, while the bench generated 37 points.

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

At 19-6 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 Saturday’s game with Mercer, senior guards A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) currently stands at 994 points for his career, while fellow senior T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) stands at 885 points ... Both players are trying to join a group of 38 ETSU players in the 1,000-point club ... The last Buccaneer to reach the 1,000-point milestone was Lester Wilson back on Jan. 22, 2015.

Bucs currently ranked 10th by CollegeInsider.com

With their 19-6 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 80...And Beyond

ETSU’s magic number this season is 80... When the Bucs score at least 80 points, the Blue and Gold are are perfect 11-0 ... ETSU’s last loss when scoring over 80 points came last year when they fell 104-81 to Oakland in the semifinals of the Vegas 16.  

Four Straight Wins at Home

The Bucs extended their home win streak to four straight following Thursday’s 90-69 win ... The win streak marks the longest home run since ETSU won eight straight last year (Dec. 10-Feb. 11) ... ETSU’s five starters (Cromer, Bradford, Mosquera-Perea, Glass and Merriweather) are all averaging double figures in scoring, while the team is averaging 80.0 points per game and winning by 14 points ... The Bucs are also shooting over 50 percent from the field (51.4) and out-rebounding the opposition by nine (38.5-29.5).

SoCon Attendance Leader

ETSU leads all SoCon teams in home attendance this season the Bucs are averaging 3,818 fans in their 12 home games -- a total of 45,812 fans ... Last season, ETSU averaged 3,065 in 15 home games (45,981 total).

Career Leaders

T.J. Cromer and A.J. Merriweather are among the NCAA Division I active career leaders  ... Cromer ranks 42nd in scoring average (16.3) and 43rd in three-point field goals per game (2.39), while Merriweather ranks 43rd in steals (146).

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 920 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 25 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 6.8 points per game this year, and David Burrell (Milwaukee), who is averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds a game, have also provided much-needed production ... Jason Williams set career highs for point (9), three-pointers made (3) and minutes played (20) in the win over The Citadel on Feb. 9.

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.