February 25, 20171st2ndFinal
East Tennessee State323668
Western Carolina124052
Stats at a GlanceETSUWCU
FG Percentage.457 (21-46) .393 (22-56)
3P FG Percentage.214 (3-14) .200 (2-10)
FT Percentage.821 (23-28) .545 (6-11)
Offensive Rebounds612
Defensive Rebounds2422
Total Rebounds3034
Turnovers1718
Steals109
Bench Points209
LeadersETSUWCU
PointsT.J. CROMER - 18
Marc Gosselin - 15
ReboundsA.J. MERRIWEATHER - 7
Marc Gosselin - 9
AssistsT.J. CROMER - 5
Devin Peterson - 5
StealsDAVID BURRELL - 3
Devin Peterson - 4
BlocksJERMAINE LONG - 2
Marc Gosselin - 2
Bucs back in action Saturday at Western Carolina
Junior guard Desonta Bradford and senior guard A.J. Merriweather celebrate after the Bucs' win over Furman on Wednesday night.
Bucs back in action Saturday at Western Carolina
Saturday, February 25, 2017

CULLOWHEE, N.C. (Feb. 24, 2017) – Despite a win in its last outing that earned the ETSU men’s basketball team first place in the Southern Conference standings, the Buccaneers are now faced with  defending that position as they begin a two-game road swing to close out league play.

First up for the Bucs (23-6, 13-3 SoCon) will be a trip to Cullowhee, N.C., to face Western Carolina on Saturday at 7 p.m. With a win, ETSU would have the same mission when they head to UNC Greensboro on Monday at 7, for a showdown with the second-place Spartans in the regular-season finale for both teams. But first things first, as the Bucs and Catamounts face off inside the Ramsey Center.

Those unable to attend the game in Cullowhee will be able to watch via live video streaming courtesy of ESPN3.com. In addition, 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. Meanwhile, ETSUBucs.com will also provide live stats during the game.

The Bucs, who are currently ranked 11th in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major national poll, bested Western Carolina 75-52 back on Jan. 14, and have won 20 of the last 21 meetings between the two schools. Meanwhile, the Catamounts enter the contest at 8-21, 3-13.

For more on Saturday’s matchup, 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. Western Carolina

ETSU leads the all-time series 51-24 and had won 17 straight matchups with the Catamounts before losing to Western Carolina 67-61 in the first round of the 2015 SoCon Tournament. ... The Bucs avenged that loss with a pair of wins over the Catamounts last season, and have now won three straight in the series after a 75-52 win earlier this year on Jan. 14.

 

Last time out vs. Western Carolina

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 14, 2017) – Making its first seven shots of the game and shooting 73 percent in the first half, the ETSU men’s basketball team built a 21-point halftime lead and then cruised to a 75-52 win over Southern Conference rival Western Carolina inside Freedom Hall. ... Senior posts Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.), Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.) combined to go 14-of-15 from the floor on the night to power the Bucs’ offense. Glass finished with a game high 14 points and eight rebounds while shooting 7-of-7 from the field, and Mosquera-Perea collected 12 points on a 4-of-4 shooting effort. ... Defensively, the Bucs hounded the Cats relentlessly, forcing 27 turnovers and holding WCU to just 36 percent from the floor. No Western Carolina player finished in double figures on the night, and the Bucs actually hit more field goals in the first half alone (19) than the Catamounts had in the game (17).

 

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 22, 2017) -- On a night when they celebrated their final regular season basketball game inside Freedom Hall, ETSU’s seniors enjoyed a game they will remember for a lifetime. ... It took overcoming a last-second 3-pointer by Southern Conference rival Furman that sent the game to overtime, but senior T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) finished with a career high 32 points, fellow senior Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and four-year fan favorite A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) made the critical defensive plays down the stretch, as the ETSU men’s basketball team outscored the Paladins 19-7 in the extra period to win 93-81 in front of a sellout crowd of 6,149 fans. ... With the win, the Bucs have taken sole possession of first place in the Southern Conference by improving to 23-6 overall and 13-3 in league play. Meanwhile, Furman drops to 20-10, 13-4 and into a second-place tie with UNC Greensboro in the SoCon standings. ... In a game that had multiple storylines, Cromer’s effort was arguably the most compelling – particularly in the second half. Scoring 12 straight and 15 of 17 over a five-minute stretch to single-handedly keep the Bucs in the lead, Cromer later went to the line for two free throws with 11.4 seconds left and the Bucs up 72-71. He hit both pressure-packed shots before Furman’s John Davis hit a 30-foot 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

 

Merriweather, Cromer eclipse 1,000 career points

During the win over Mercer on Feb. 11, 2017, senior guards A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) both eclipsed 1,000 points in the same game ... Cromer was first to the milestone with a 3-pointer at the 17:05 mark of the first half, followed by Merriweather  with another 3-pointer at 16:02 on an assist from Cromer ... The two now rank among 40 ETSU players to have reached that 1,000-point threshold ... Their current standing is below:

  1. Marcus Reese (1981-84)................................... 1,157
  2. Alvin West (1988-91)........................................ 1,115
  3. Major Geer (1988-91)....................................... 1,094
  4. T.J. Cromer (2015-present)............................... 1,086
  5. Ben Rhoda (2002-06)........................................ 1,071
  6. Herb Weaver (1953-56)..................................... 1064
  7. Jalen Riley (2013-15)......................................... 1,056
  8. Willie Malone (1962-64).................................... 1,037
  9. A.J. Merriweather (2013-present)....................... 1,036

T-35. Andre Motley (1980-83)................................. 1,031

T-35. Adam Sollazzo (2008-2012)........................... 1,031

  1. Travis Strong (2003-08).................................... 1,030

 

Bucs currently ranked 11th by CollegeInsider.com

With their 22-6 start, the Bucs are currently ranked 13th in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, which was released on Monday ... The Bucs are joined in the ranking by Furman (16th), Chattanooga (20th), UNCG (24th).

 

SoCon Attendance Leaders

ETSU leads all SoCon teams in home attendance this season, as the Bucs averaging 4,054 fans in their 15 home games -- a total of 60,809 fans ... In fact, the Bucs three times sold out their home of Freedom Hall, playing before 6,149 fans in each of those contests.

 

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 a remarkable 7th nationally at 49.7 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 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 ...  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 13-0 ... ETSU’s last loss when scoring over 80 points came last year when they fell 104-81 to Oakland in the Vegas 16.

 

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

 

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

At 23-6 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.

 

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.

 

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 29 games of the year, the Bucs’ bench players have outscored their opponents in 21 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 7.1 points per game this year, and David Burrell (Milwaukee), who is averaging 7.8 points and 3.4 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.

 

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.