January 13, 20181st2ndFinal
VMI192948
ETSU355489
Stats at a GlanceVMIETSU
FG Percentage.260 (13-50) .532 (33-62)
3P FG Percentage.238 (5-21) .391 (9-23)
FT Percentage.630 (17-27) .609 (14-23)
Offensive Rebounds810
Defensive Rebounds2633
Total Rebounds3443
Turnovers1510
Steals510
Bench Points1455
LeadersVMIETSU
PointsBubba Parham - 16
Devontavius Payne - 17
David Burrell - 17
ReboundsAustin Vereen - 7
Devontavius Payne - 9
AssistsGarrett Gilkeson - 2
Desonta Bradford - 6
StealsGarrett Gilkeson - 2
Devontavius Payne - 4
BlocksFred Iruafemi - 2
James Harrison - 2
Bucs put win streak on the line when they host VMI Saturday
Bucs put win streak on the line when they host VMI Saturday
Friday, January 12, 2018

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 12, 2018) – With a seven-game winning streak and an unblemished record in Southern Conference play, the ETSU men’s basketball team will host league foe VMI Saturday afternoon inside Freedom Hall.

Tip is set for 4 p.m. Fans are reminded that Saturday is Heroes’ Day and all military, police, fire, EMS, first responders and medical service personnel will receive a free ticket to the game.

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 enters the contest fresh off a critical 68-58 win over UNCG on Thursday night, moving its record to 13-4 overall, 4-0 in SoCon play. Meanwhile, VMI enters the game at 5-9, 0-3.

For more on Saturday’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. VMI

The Bucs and Keydets have met 59 times in a series that dates back to 1953, with the Bucs holding a 48-11 advantage all-time ... ETSU has won four straight in the series, including an 81-71 victory back on Feb. 2, 2017 in Lexington, Va.

 

Last time out against VMI

LEXINGTON, Va. (Feb. 2, 2017) – An impressive second half offensively was the difference for the ETSU men’s basketball team on the road inside VMI’s Cameron Hall. ... Shooting 69 percent from the field and 73 percent from 3-point range in the second half, the Buccaneers scored 54 points after the intermission and rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to drop the Keydets 81-71 in Southern Conference play. ... After combining to score just eight points in the first half, senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) and junior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) joined up to score 32 in the second half, with Cromer posting a game-high 24 and Bradford with 16 for the game. Meanwhile, seniors A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) also helped power the win by providing 13 and 10, respectively. ... For the game, the Bucs shot 57 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range, while out-rebounding the Keydets 35-34. However, things didn’t start that way in the first half. ... While the Bucs shot a respectable 44 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes of play, they were just 1-of-9 from 3-point range and 2-of-5 at the foul line. Making matters worse, VMI out-rebounded ETSU 23-15 and used several of those boards to get second chance points, building a 34-27 lead at the break. ... After the intermission, the Bucs clearly listened to Forbes’ halftime speech, racing out with a 13-3 offensive run to open the second half and taking their first lead of the game at 40-37 with just under 16 minutes left in regulation. Unfortunately for the Bucs, after increasing their lead to 46-40, VMI regained some momentum and took the lead back at 47-46. ... There were five lead changes and a pair of ties over the next five minutes of game play before ETSU went on a 15-4 run, which was highlighted by a pair of threes from Cromer and single buckets from beyond the arc by Bradford and Merriweather. When the smoke cleared from that run, the Bucs led 69-59 and never looked back.

 

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY (Jan. 11, 2018) – In a rematch of the 2017 Southern Conference Tournament championship game, the ETSU men’s basketball team once again got the best of rival UNC Greensboro. ... Down five with 16 minutes left in the second half, the Buccaneers decided to turn up the pressure on the Spartans with a full-court, trapping defense, ultimately outscoring UNCG 33-19 the rest of the way to take an important 68-58 win before a crowd of 5,038 inside Freedom Hall. ... With the victory, the Bucs improved to 13-4 overall, 4-0 in SoCon play, and remain tied atop the league with rival Furman. Meanwhile, the Spartans dropped into second place at 11-5, 2-1, and left Johnson City unable to even the score after being denied a trip to the NCAA Tournament by the Bucs back in March. ... For the Bucs, four players reached double figures, with senior guard Jalan McCloud (Fort Worth, Texas) collecting a game high 15 points, while freshman post Mladen Armus (Belgrade, Serbia) added 13, senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) had 12, and senior post Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) netted 11. ... Defensively, the Bucs got a fantastic performance from senior guard Jermaine Long (New Orleans), who was tasked with stopping UNCG’s all-everything guard Francis Alonso and held him to just 10 points on the night. For the Spartans, forward Marvin Smith had a team high 11 points.

 

Bucs’ seven-game win streak best in Forbes’ era

The ETSU basketball team has enjoyed plenty of wins over three seasons under head coach Steve Forbes’ direction ... But with its seventh win in a row on Thursday night against UNCG, the Bucs matched the longest streak in those three seasons, as Forbes and the Bucs also won seven straight in 2015-16 ... With a win Saturday, the Bucs would have the longest win streak since the 2010-11 squad won 10 in a row ... The longest win streak in school history was 15 set in both 1952-53 and 2003-04.

 

Jurkin named SoCon player of the week

ETSU’s senior center Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) was named the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for all contests from Jan. 2-8. ... The award is selected by the league office. ... Jurkin, who averaged 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in just 20.5 minutes per game last week, helped the Bucs improve to 12-4 overall and 3-0 in SoCon play with a pair of road wins over league opponents. ... A 7-foot, sixth-year senior, Jurkin opened his week with 15 points, two rebounds and a blocked shot in ETSU’s 90-72 win at Samford on Thursday. He was 5-for-6 from the floor and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line on the night. ... At Chattanooga two days later, Jurkin again scored 15 points, this time adding 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. He blocked three shots and went 4-for-8 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line as the Bucs rolled to their largest-ever road win over the Mocs, 85-66. ... For the week, Jurkin was 9-for-14 from the floor (64.3 percent) and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line (91.7 percent).

 

Bucs move to No. 5 in CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll

After just cracking into the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll last week at No. 16, the Bucs third straight convincing road win in SoCon play seemed to impact voters this week, as ETSU moved all the way up to No. 5 in the rankings ... This comes on the heels of the Bucs earning the No. 8 spot in the NBC Sports Mid-Major Power Rankings last week.

 

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, after going 3-0 during this first stretch of SoCon games, the Bucs will also face another three game swing away from Freedom Hall from Feb. 10 to Feb. 17.

 

Hodges goes on “Bo”-nanza in 113 seconds

In a less than two-minute span against Hiwassee College, 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. ... Those numbers propelled Hodges to a game high 18 points on the night ... In addition, Hodges currently ranks second  in the SoCon in field goal percentage, hitting 63 percent of his shots.

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 Jan. 11, the team is one of the best in the country in collecting steals and forcing turnovers.

 

Bradford closing in on 1,000 points

Senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) scored 12 points in the win over UNCG Thursday night and now stands at 986 points for his career ... With another 14 points this season, he would become the 41st player in school history to eclipse 1,000 points for his career.

 

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 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 947 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

 

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 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.

 

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

 

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.