January 24, 20181st2ndFinal
Mercer354075
ETSU394584
Stats at a GlanceMERETSU
FG Percentage.467 (28-60) .511 (24-47)
3P FG Percentage.250 (6-24) .500 (13-26)
FT Percentage.765 (13-17) .821 (23-28)
Offensive Rebounds105
Defensive Rebounds1824
Total Rebounds2829
Turnovers1213
Steals46
Bench Points2630
LeadersMERETSU
PointsDesmond Ringer - 21
Jalan McCloud - 25
ReboundsStephon Jelks - 9
Mladen Armus - 8
AssistsMarcus Cohen - 5
Desonta Bradford - 9
StealsDemetre Rivers - 1
Stephon Jelks - 1
Cory Kilby - 1
Ross Cummings - 1
Jermaine Long - 2
Jalan McCloud - 2
BlocksStephon Jelks - 1
Jaylen Stowe - 1
Peter Jurkin - 1
Jermaine Long - 1
David Burrell - 1
Desonta Bradford - 1
Bucs aim to stay the course Wednesday vs. Mercer
Bucs aim to stay the course Wednesday vs. Mercer
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 23, 2018) – The red hot ETSU men’s basketball team will be looking to retain sole possession of first place in the Southern Conference standings when rival Mercer invades Freedom Hall Wednesday night. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

The first-place Buccaneers, who have won 10 straight and 14 of their last 15 games, are 16-4 overall and a perfect 7-0 in SoCon play. Meanwhile, Mercer enters the contest at 10-10, 3-4.

The game 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.

Currently ranked 5th in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, ETSU sports the nation’s third longest winning streak at 10 games. The last Bucs squad to post a 10-game winning streak was the 2006-07 team.

For more on Wednesday’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 20-8 ... The majority of the past 28 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 seven meetings between the teams, including a 74-55 win over the Bears earlier this season.

 

Last time out vs. Mercer

MACON, Ga. (Dec. 31, 2017) – When it comes to playing the Mercer Bears, 2017 was a great year for the ETSU men’s basketball team. ... For the fourth time over the last 365 days, the Buccaneers handed the Bears a defeat, as ETSU said goodbye to the past year with a dominating New Year’s Eve victory over Mercer 74-55 in the Southern Conference opener for both teams inside Hawkins Arena. ... The Bucs held the Bears to just one field goal over a nine-minute stretch of the second half and then shot an impressive 10-of-18 (56 percent) to pick up the win. ... The Bucs – who beat Mercer twice during the regular season and then in the quarterfinals of the 2017 SoCon Tournament back during the 2016-17 season – got a game high 22 points from senior guard Jalan McCloud (Fort Worth, Texas), a player who had hit just three 3-pointers all season but connected on four during Sunday’s game. In addition to McCloud, fellow senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) and freshman guard Bo Hodges (Nashville) each added 12 points for the Bucs. ... The key stretch of the game came with the score 49-44 in favor of ETSU with 12:31 left in regulation. Over the next nine minutes, the Bucs would hold Mercer to just one field goal and use that stretch to build a 63-50 lead. From there, the Bears could only muster two more field goals, while ETSU went on an 11-5 run to close out the 19-point victory.

 

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 20, 2018) – It took Western Carolina eight minutes of game play before scoring its first basket Saturday afternoon, and that’s all the head start the ETSU men’s basketball team needed. ... Building an 11-point halftime lead and then opening the second half with an 8-0 run, the Buccaneers cruised to their 10th-straight win with a 66-50 Southern Conference victory over the Catamounts in front of a season-high crowd of 5,412 fans at Freedom Hall. With the win, the Bucs have now won 14 of their last 15

games and improved to 16-4 overall, 7-0 in league play. ... Meanwhile, Western Carolina dropped to 8-11, 4-3. ... Senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), who was honored prior to the game for reaching the 1,000-point plateau last week against VMI, finished with a game high 16 points to lead the Bucs, while fellow senior guard Jalan McCloud (Fort Worth, Texas) added 13. For the Catamounts, guard Deriece Parks matched Bradford’s 16-point effort to pace WCU. ... The Bucs’ defense established itself early, not allowing a Western Carolina a field goal for the opening nine minutes of play. During that stretch, the Bucs opened an 11-0 lead, but the Catamounts finally broke through with a score and ended up netting nine points in a row to pull within two at 11-9. From there though, the Bucs methodically beat back WCU and finished the half with a 31-20 advantage.  ... In the first half, ETSU held the Catamounts to just 31 percent shooting and out-rebounded the visitors 19-17. The Bucs also outscored Western 18-8 in the paint and 13-7 off turnovers. ... After the intermission, the Bucs opened with eight straight points and ultimately led by as many as 22 points in the second half. Western closed to within 11 at 51-40 with nine minutes left in regulation, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the way.

 

Bucs’ 10-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 10th win in a row on Saturday against Western Carolina, the Bucs now have the longest streak of success in those three seasons ... Forbes and the Bucs had also won seven straight in 2015-16 ... In addition, the Bucs’ win Saturday now gives the team the longest win streak since the 2006-7 squad won 10 in a row ... The longest win streak in school history was 16 set in 2003-04, while the 1952-53 squad won 15 straight.

 

10 wins in a row ranks third in the nation

With a win over Western Carolina on Saturday, the Bucs have now won 10 games in a row and currently rank tied for third nationally for the longest active winning streak. ... Purdue leads the nation with 15 straight wins, followed by St. Mary’s with 14. ... ETSU then ranks tied for third along with Cincinnati, Virginia and Rhode Island.

 

Forbes winning percentage among the nation’s best

In his three seasons at ETSU, head coach Steve Forbes has a winning percentage of .733 (66-24), which ranks 13th nationally among active coaches with at least three years of NCAA Division I experience ... While names such as Mark Few (Gonzaga), Roy Williams (North Carolina), John Calipari (Kentucky) and Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) are ahead of Forbes on the list, ETSU’s head coach does rank ahead of coaches Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), Bruce Pearl (Auburn), Jamie Dixon (TCU), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Archie Miller (Indiana), Jay Wright (Villanova) and Steve Alford (UCLA).

 

Bradford more than just a scorer for the Bucs

While his game-winning score at Furman on Jan. 20th was a great play, senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) has been making winning plays for the Bucs throughout the season ... He currently ranks as one of -- if not the best -- all-around players in the SoCon ... As of today’s game, Bradford is the only SoCon player in the league to display the following versatility, ranking in the Top 10 of multiple statistical categories per game, including points (14.0), rebounds (5.6), assists (3.9), steals (1.7),  assist/TO ratio (1.7), defensive rebounds (5.0) and minutes played (31.4).

 

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

After just cracking into the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll two weeks ago at No. 16, the Bucs third straight convincing road win in SoCon play and two home wins have allowed ETSU to move up to and maintain the No. 5 spot in the poll for two straight weeks. ... This comes on the heels of the Bucs earning the No. 8 spot in the NBC Sports Mid-Major Power Rankings three weeks ago, while also being ranked No. 36 in Andy Katz’s weekly power ranking of all Division I programs.

 

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. 22, the team is one of the best in the country in multiple categories.

 

Bradford reaches milestone with 1,000th point

With a layup late in the second half of the Bucs’ win over VMI (1/13), senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) reached 1,000 points for his career ... He became  the 41st player in school history to eclipse that mark.

 

Jurkin earns SoCon player of the week honor

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 at the time with a pair of road wins over league opponents.

 

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 later scored nine straight first-half points to spark the Bucs’ offense in a dominating win over VMI (1/13).

 

Forbes’ Formula: 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 949 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.

 

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).

 

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 at the end of the year from Feb. 10 to Feb. 17.

 

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

 

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.