December 31, 20171st2ndFinal
East Tenn. St.363874
Mercer302555
Stats at a GlanceETSUMER
FG Percentage.569 (29-51) .392 (20-51)
3P FG Percentage.556 (10-18) .400 (6-15)
FT Percentage.667 (6-9) .600 (9-15)
Offensive Rebounds715
Defensive Rebounds1917
Total Rebounds2632
Turnovers1418
Steals106
Bench Points2217
LeadersETSUMER
PointsJalan McCloud - 22
Ria'n Holland - 12
ReboundsPeter Jurkin - 6
Desmond Ringer - 12
AssistsJalan McCloud - 6
Marcus Cohen - 4
StealsDavid Burrell - 2
Bo Hodges - 2
Jalan McCloud - 2
Jaylen Stowe - 2
Demetre Rivers - 2
BlocksPeter Jurkin - 2
Cory Kilby - 2
Bucs begin title defense Sunday at Mercer
Senior guard Jalan McCloud and the Bucs have won seven of their last eight games entering Sunday's matchup with Mercer.
Bucs begin title defense Sunday at Mercer
Saturday, December 30, 2017

MACON, Ga. (Dec. 30, 2017) – The ETSU men’s basketball team will begin its defense of the 2017 Southern Conference championship on Sunday, as the Buccaneers open a new year of SoCon play on New Year’s Eve, hitting the road to face league rival Mercer.

Tip is set for 2 p.m. inside Hawkins Arena.

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 9-4 overall on the season, has won seven of its last eight games. Meanwhile, the Bears posted a 7-6 mark in non-conference play and were the preseason pick by the SoCon’s coaches to win the regular season title.

For more on Sunday’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. Mercer

The Bucs lead the all-time series over Mercer 19-8 ... The majority of the past 27 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 six meetings between the teams, including a 73-66 win over the Bears in the quarterfinals of the 2017 SoCon Tournament. ... The Bucs are also 3-0 all-time against the Bears in tournament play, beating them once in the A-Sun title game in 2010, and in the quarterfinals of the SoCon Tournament in both 2016 and 2017.

 

Last time out against Mercer

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 4, 2017) – Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) decided it was time to take over. ... In a contest that was tied midway through the second half, the 6-foot-4 junior guard powered a game-defining offensive run by scoring nine of 11 straight points for the Buccaneers, who raced ahead of the Mercer Bears and ultimately secured a 73-66 victory Saturday evening in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Tournament presented by General Shale at the U.S. Cellular Center. ... The Bucs, who improved to 25-7 on the year, had trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half. ... Bradford finished with a game high 21 points, while senior post Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) netted 15 and senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) added 10 in the winning effort. ... Mercer retained its double-digit lead at 33-21 with 4:22 left before the intermission when the ETSU offense finally came to life. Using a 13-2 run to close the half, the Bucs ultimately trailed the Bears 35-34 at the break. The Bucs got a team high 11 points from Glass in the first half, while junior guard Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.) came off the bench to provide a valuable nine points and three rebounds. ... After the break, the game stayed tight for the first part of the second half, as the game remained tied at 45 with 11:50 left. However, Bradford took over at that point, scoring nine of the Bucs next 11 points to power an 11-0 run that gave ETSU a 56-45 lead with 7:41 left in the game.

 

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 28, 2017) – Before turning its attention to the start of Southern Conference play next week, the ETSU men’s basketball team had one final, non-conference tune-up against Tusculum College. For the final 30 minutes of game play, the Buccaneers looked like a well-oiled machine. ... Falling behind 19-16 with 10 minutes left in the first half, the Buccaneers’ defense turned up the pressure and the offense closed the half with an impressive 31-5 offensive run, as ETSU ultimately led by as many as 30 and cruised to an 84-65 win inside Freedom Hall. … With the victory, the Bucs closed the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 9-4 record. ...            Senior forward David Burrell (Milwaukee) led the way for the Bucs with his first career double-double, scoring a game high 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, four other ETSU players reached double figures, as senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) joined Burrell with 18, while junior guard Kanayo Obi-Rapu (Greensboro, N.C.) had 13, senior post Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) netted 11, and freshman post Mladen Armus (Belgrade, Serbia) added 10. ... The game certainly got off to an inauspicious start for the Bucs, as Tusculum shot over 55 percent in the opening 10 minutes and led 19-16 with 10:37 left before the break. However, at that point the game took quite a turn, as the Bucs would outscore the Pioneers 31-5 over the next nine minutes of play and ultimately led 47-28 at the intermission. ... After the break, the Bucs surged ahead by 30 at 74-44.

 

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.

 

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 931 points for his career ... With another 69 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.

 

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. 29, 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 943 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.