December 28, 20171st2ndFinal
Tusculum College283765
ETSU473784
Stats at a GlanceTCMETSU
FG Percentage.436 (24-55) .437 (31-71)
3P FG Percentage.400 (10-25) .292 (7-24)
FT Percentage.636 (7-11) .652 (15-23)
Offensive Rebounds1020
Defensive Rebounds2625
Total Rebounds3645
Turnovers168
Steals511
Bench Points2926
LeadersTCMETSU
PointsDonaldson - 11
Desonta Bradford - 18
David Burrell - 18
ReboundsSmith - 8
David Burrell - 10
AssistsDonaldson - 4
Jalan McCloud - 5
StealsPeeler - 2
Jalan McCloud - 5
BlocksOkafor - 6
Mladen Armus - 3
Bucs back in action Thursday, host Tusculum at 7 p.m.
Bucs back in action Thursday, host Tusculum at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 27, 2017) – Coming off a convincing 20-point win over a Georgia Southern team that had posted a 9-3 record before visiting Freedom Hall, the ETSU men’s basketball team will look to add to its positive momentum as the Buccaneers close out non-conference play with a home contest against nearby Tusculum College.

Tip is set for Thursday night at 7 p.m. inside Freedom Hall.

The contest will air live via video stream courtesy of the ESPN app, while the Buccaneer Sports Network will also have the live broadcast of the game on its radio affiliates and through the live link at ETSUBucs.com. In addition, live stats will also be available by clicking the link to the right of this story.

ETSU, which enters at 8-4 overall on the season, has won six of its last seven games. Following the game with the Pioneers, the Bucs will begin preparations for Southern Conference play, which will begin on Dec. 31 against Mercer. That game is set for a 2 p.m. tip time in Macon, Ga.

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 2017-18 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

When Steve Forbes was hired as the men’s basketball coach at ETSU on March 31, 2015, he promised that the Buccaneers would have a program of “first, best and most.” ... Less than two years later, Forbes made good on that guarantee as he guided the 2016-17 ETSU men’s basketball team to a 27-win season, both a Southern Conference regular season and tournament title, and a 10th trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament  ...  Overall, the Bucs have combined to win more games than any other program in the SoCon over the last two years (51) and have made back-to-back appearances in the league’s tournament championship game ... As the squad enters the 2017-18 season, the momentum and excitement around the program are high, but there will be challenges. ...

Graduating four of its starting five players from a year ago, the Bucs have lost 62 percent of its offensive production from a year ago, along with its two best interior post defender.

 

The series vs. Tusculum

The Bucs and Pioneers have met 61 times in a series that dates back to 1922 ... ETSU holds a 42-19 lead in the series, having won 15 in a row, including a 90-52 win in the last meeting back on Jan. 19, 2015.

 

Last time out against Tusculum

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 19, 2015) – Senior guard Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.) scored a game-high 22 points and two other ETSU players posted double-double efforts, as the Buccaneers dropped non-conference opponent Tusculum College 90-52 inside Freedom Hall. ... The Buccaneers, who improved to 11-6 on the year, enjoyed a 17-point effort from senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), while junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.) finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds on the night. ... The Bucs sprinted out of the gates, building a lead of 20 points at 34-14 with seven minutes left before the intermission. At that point, ETSU emptied its bench and started using its entire roster the rest of the half. ... Tusculum took advantage of the Bucs’ approach to pull to within 13 at 42-29 by the intermission. Before the break, ETSU shot 50 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Pioneers 22-19, holding Tusculum to a 31 percent shooting percentage. ... After the break, Tusculum managed to keep the game within 14 points for the first four minutes of play, but a 15-3 spurt by the Bucs finally increased the cushion to 25 points at 65-40 and ETSU never looked back.

 

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 22, 2017) – Employing a stifling defense and scoring 19 unanswered points to open the second half, the ETSU men’s basketball team took a close game and turned it into a blowout inside Freedom Hall. ... Playing a Georgia Southern team that entered the game with a 9-3 record and a high national RPI ranking, the Buccaneers led by as many as 24 points multiple times in the second half and ultimately took an impressive 79-59 victory over the Eagles. ... The Bucs, who were once Southern Conference rivals with Georgia Southern, improved to 8-4 on the season and have won six of their last seven games. Meanwhile, the Eagles, who are now members of the Sun Belt Conference, dropped to 9-4. ... The Bucs got double-figure scoring from four players, led by a team-high 15 points from senior guard Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.). ... In addition, senior teammates Jalan McCloud (Fort Worth, Texas) and Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) collected 14 apiece, while Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) netted 10. ... ETSU ended the game shooting 48 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point  range, while outrebounding the Eagles, 41-30. The Bucs also outscored Georgia Southern 38-16 in bench points and 23-7 on points off turnovers. ... In the first half, Georgia Southern took an early 7-6 lead, but the Bucs would quickly regain the advantage and never relinquish it the rest of the game. In fact, a 15-5 run midway through the half made it 28-18 in favor of ETSU, even though the Eagles did manage to claw back to within five at 36-31 by the intermission. ... The Bucs got nine points apiece from Jurkin and sophomore guard Jason Williams (Detroit) in the first half, while Georgia Southern’s Tookie Brown scored 15 to keep the Eagles close at the break. ... After the intermission, the Bucs’ 19-0 run and holding Georgia Southern to just one field goal until the 12:35 mark of the second half was the story. When the smoke cleared, the Bucs led by 24 at 57-33. 

 

Bradford closing in on 1,000 points

Senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) was coming off back-to-back games of eclipsing 20 points before posting another 10-point effort in the win over Georgia Southern ... He now stands at 913 points for his career ... With another 87 points this season, he would become the 41st player in school history to eclipse 1,000 points for his career.

 

Hodges goes on “Bo”-nanza in 113 seconds

In a less than two-minute span against Hiwassee College, true freshman Bo Hodges (Nashville) put on a show ... The two-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee collected 11 points, four dunks, two layups, two steals and a free throw in a total of 113 seconds during the first half of the Bucs’ win over the Tigers ... Those numbers propelled Hodges to a game high 18 points on the night ... In addition, Hodges currently ranks first in the SoCon in field goal percentage, hitting 65 percent of his shots.

 

Bradford named preseason All-SoCon, Bucs picked 4th

ETSU senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) was selected to the Preseason All-Southern Conference team by the league’s coaches, and the Buccaneers were picked to finish fourth in both the coaches and media polls released by the SoCon offices earlier this year. ... ETSU, the reigning SoCon tournament champion, was selected fourth in both polls, finishing one point behind Furman in the coaches poll with 64 points and two first-place votes, and garnering 178 points and four first-place votes in the media poll. The Bucs, who earned a share of last year’s regular-season title at 27-8 overall and 14-4 in the league, put Bradford, their lone returning starter from last year’s squad, on the preseason all-conference team.

 

ETSU’s own version of “one-and-done”

While Power 5 programs such as Kentucky and Duke have defined the term “one-and-done” to describe freshmen that play a single season before moving on to the NBA, ETSU has created its own version of “one-and-done” which  relies on fifth-year graduate players and other transfers to help give ETSU a jolt of competitive talent. ... In 2015-16, Cincinnati transfer Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) was one of these players for the Bucs, while last year Indiana transfer Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Wichita State transfer Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) provided ETSU with a single-season boost of talent during the 2016-17 campaign. ... This year, guard Jalan McCloud (Forth Worth, Texas) is carrying on the tradition after transfering from Texas Southern.

 

Three game road swings a challenge for Bucs

The Bucs opened the season with a three game road swing, and it won’t be the last time ETSU faces that challenge this year. ... In fact, the Bucs will open SoCon play with three straight road games, and then end the season with three more.

Bucs among best in NCAA

A complete listing of where the Bucs currently stand in the NCAA national rankings can be found to the left of this note ... As of Dec. 26, the team is one of the best in the country in collecting steals and forcing turnovers.

 

Several Bucs providing new offensive sparks

Finding new offensive production heading into the season was a big

need for the Bucs ... So far, senior guard Devontavius Payne (Cardondale,

Ill.), senior post Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) and freshman Bo Hodges (Nashville) have shown signs that they can help in that area ... In a win over Savannah State (11/13), Payne netted a personal best 28 points, while Jurkin netted his career high with 17 points in a loss at Kentucky (11/17). ... Both players continued to produce against Delaware State, with Payne scoring 11 points, while Jurkin provided a career high 10 rebounds and nine points. ... In addition, in the Bucs’ game at Fordham, Hodges stepped into the starting lineup to post career hights in points (20) and rebounds (8).

 

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 942 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.  ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA. The Top 10 as of Dec. 10 can be found below:

  1. Kentucky............................................................ 1,022
  2. UNLV................................................................. 1,016
  3. Vanderbilt.......................................................... 1,008
  4. Duke..................................................................... 996
  5. Arkansas............................................................... 951
  6. Western Kentucky.................................................. 948
  7. East Tennessee State............................................. 939
  8. Oakland................................................................ 914
  9. Texas.................................................................... 900
  10. Princeton............................................................. 884

 

ETSU among nation’s best in attendance growth

The ETSU men’s basketball team continues to reap good news from its historic 2016-17 season, learning earlier this year that the program posted the nation’s 15th best increase for average attendance from the previous year. ... The Bucs, who averaged 3,065 fans a game in 2015-16, watched as that number ballooned to 4,053 fans per game during the team’s championship run to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17. ETSU ultimately led the Southern Conference in average attendance per game – selling out three games during the season versus Tennessee, Chattanooga and Furman – and was just outside of the Top 100 in overall attendance in the country out of 347 Division I teams.

 

2016-17 ETSU squad among the best ever at ETSU

Along with making program history thanks to a 10th trip all-time to the NCAAs and another conference title, last year’s ETSU team also ranked among the best teams ever in multiple single season statistical categories. They included:

Wins................................................................. T-2nd, 27

Free throws made.............................................. 2nd, 597

Blocked shots.................................................... 2nd, 162

Points............................................................... 4th, 2782

Assists............................................................... 4th, 516

Scoring margin................................................ T-4th, +9.8

Field goals made................................................. 4th, 960

Field goal percentage......................................... 6th, .488

3-pt. FG made.................................................... 6th, 265

Rebounding margin............................................ 6th, +4.2

3-pt. FG percentage........................................ T-4th, .382

Winning Percentage........................................... 8th, .771

Rebounds...................................................... T-9th, 1269

 

Success against Power 5 opponents

The Bucs have enjoyed their share of wins in early season games against Power 5 Conference foes over the last decade ... Since the 2008-09 season, ETSU has collected victories over Arkansas in 2009 (94-85), Georgia Tech in 2015 (69-68), and Mississippi State in both 2010 (63-62) and 2016 (67-65). ... Prior to the 2008-09 season, the Bucs have a long tradition of upsetting Power 5 teams, including a win over No. 3 seeded Arizona in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament, along with wins over Tennessee (1989 and 1991), N.C. State (1989, 1990 and 1992) and Virginia Tech (1998).

 

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

ETSU head men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes was 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.

 

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 posted back-to-back seasons with wins over teams from “Power 5” Conferences ... The Bucs dropped Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech in 2015-16, and followed that victory with a win over Mississippi State in 2016-17 ... 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 over an SEC foe since dropping the same Bulldogs back in 2010.

 

Hodges stepping up as freshman contributor

Freshman guard Bo Hodges (Nashville) has consistently improved throughout the season, and in the Bucs’ last two games he has become an efficient performer on both ends of the floor ... Against Fordham (11/29), Hodges finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, and followed that effort with 14 points and three blocks in the win over Northern Kentucky (12/6) ... Hodges has also moved to 2nd in the SoCon in field goal percentage, connecting on 61 percent of his shots so far this season.