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Bucs, Dolphins set for key A-Sun showdown
Senior Kevin Tiggs helped lead the Bucs past JU in last year's A-Sun final. However, Tiggs and fellow senior Courtney Pigram are no longer on the ETSU bench, and current senior guard Mike Smith is out
Senior Kevin Tiggs helped lead the Bucs past JU in last year's A-Sun final. However, Tiggs and fellow senior Courtney Pigram are no longer on the ETSU bench, and current senior guard Mike Smith is out

Sunday, December 20, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 21, 2009) -- While a much needed 15-day break awaits for the Christmas holidays, the ETSU men's basketball team still has one more game before it can enjoy some time off. And it is a signficant contest indeed.

The Buccaneers (5-7) return to Atlantic Sun Conference play and will be looking to snap a two-game losing skid when they meet preseason league favorite Jacksonville Monday evening inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

This game is a rematch of last season's A-Sun Tournament title game, a contest ETSU was able to win. For JU, it marked the second year in a row the Dolphins advanced to the title game, only to see their hopes dashed.

For more on the game, click on the game notebook link above or read the game notes below.

 

Buc bits

The ETSU men's basketball team will be looking to bounce back in the win column and end a two-game losing streak as they enter Atlantic Sun Conference play with a visit from presesaon favorite Jacksonville ... The Bucs are 4-4 over their last eight games, but have lost back-to-back contests by a total of six points ... ETSU is 4-1 inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center this season, and the Bucs hope to continue that success ... Preseason All Atlantic Sun Conference pick Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) remains doubtful  for the  Jacksonville game after having missed the Bucs last three contests ... In Smith's absence, junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) have stepped up their games … In fact, Hubbard has posted double-doubles in six of his last 11 games, which led to his selection as A-Sun player of the week on Nov. 30 ... that week included a career best 32-point effort against the Razorbacks and a game-high 25-point effort in the victory over UNF ... Meanwhile, Tubbs posted a career best 29 points against CofC and 21 against Arkansas, to go with nine rebounds ... Currently, Hubbard and Tubbs lead the team in scoring, with Hubbard averaging 14.8 points per game, and Tubbs pitching in 14.1.

 

The series against Jacksonville

ETSU and Jacksonville have met 10 times with the Buccaneers holding a 6-4 edge in the all-time series ... Since joining the A-Sun in 2005-06, the Bucs are 6-2 against the Dolphins, including an 85-68 win over the JU in the finals of the A-Sun Tournament last  March ... The Bucs only losses to JU since joining the conference came in 2007 and 2009 during trips to JU.

 

Last time against Jacksonville

NASHVILLE (March 7, 2009) - For most of the 2008-09 season, much had been written and said about ETSU's "Big Three" of senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.). ... But on Saturday in the finals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships at Allen Arena, it was the Buccaneers "Big 10" that truly made the difference. While Smith posted a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds to go with 21 points from Tiggs, the ETSU bench combined to provide 22 points and 12 rebounds in an absolutely dominating 85-68 win over Jacksonville. ... With the win, ETSU (23-10) secures a bid to the 2009 NCAA Tournament, marking the eighth time in school history that the Buccaneers have made their way to March Madness. The Bucs are the 16th different team to win the A-Sun title and first new winner since Belmont took the championship in 2006 ... Dominance in the paint and on the glass highlighted the first half for ETSU, along with a quick scoring start for Tiggs. The Bucs held a 22-17 advantage on the boards, outscoring the Dolphins 24-8 in the paint and enjoying a 14-0 edge in second chance points. Meanwhile, Tiggs scored 13 of ETSU's first 23 points, staking the Bucs to a 23-11 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the half ... From there, Tiggs got in foul trouble after picking up his third violation of the game with 6:12 left before the intermission. The score was 32-18 at the time, and despite Tiggs' departure ETSU still pushed the lead out to 43-28 at the break ... In the first half, Tiggs was joined by Smith with 13 points to lead the way, but despite the fact senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) scored just one point, it was the supporting cast of freshman forward Isiah Brown (Miami, Fla.), sophomore forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston), sophomore guard Micah Williams (Manchester) and senior forward Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) that combined for 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench ... The second half opened with another ETSU run, as a 3-pointer by Pigram to open the half ignited an 11-2 run for the Buccaneers and made the score 54-30 with 16:19 left in the game. Jacksonville tried to answer with a 4-0 spurt of its own ... Jacksonville ultimately rallied to outscore the Bucs 29-16 over the final nine minutes, but at that point it was simply too late for the Dolphins to recover.,

 

Last time out

MOREHEAD, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2009) - Despite trailing by just two points to Morehead State with 34.8 seconds left, back-to-back turnovers by the ETSU men's basketball team in the final 30 seconds ultimately cost the Buccaneers a chance at a road victory, as they fell to the Eagles 60-58 in non-conference action at Johnson Arena ... After tying the game on a Jarvis Jones (Memphis) 3-pointer with 57 seconds left, Morehead State's Maze Stallworth was fouled and hit both free throws. At that point, the Bucs first turned the ball over with just over five seconds left when junior Micah Williams (Manchester) dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds ... Then, after a pair of free throw misses by Morehead's Kenneth Faried, senior guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) walked with the basketball as he raced to the other end for a desperation attempt to tie it ... ETSU was led offensively by Jones' 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, while junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) also added 14. In addition, true freshman guard Bruce Grimm (Rochester, Ind.) pitched in 12 and three steals ... Morehead State opened the second half on an 8-0 run to make it 33-26 with 18:35 left in the game, but ETSU responded with a 10-4 run of its own to pull within one at 37-36 when a Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) 3-pointer found the mark. The Bucs could not retake the lead and actually fell behind by eight points at 52-44 when a Maze Stallworth 3-pointer found the mark with 7:43 left ... At that point, a pair of Jones' 3-pointers helped pull the Bucs back into it at 52-50 with 4:33 left. The Bucs and Eagles then traded baskets, but five straight points from Williams made it 56-55 when his layup found the mark with 1:39 left in the game. After another bucket by Stallworth got it to 58-55 with a minute left, but Jones answered again and tied it at 58 when his long range 3-pointer rattled home with 57 seconds remaining.

 

Smith's status still in doubt

Though he has played in four games this season and most recently scored a season high 14 points against UAB (12/4), senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) continues to battle nagging injuries ... This has left his status for this week -- and the rest of the year -- still in doubt ... No decision has been made at this point on whether Smith will redshirt this season or whether he will attempt to return to the floor this year ... Smith has been out of practice the last few days.

 

Williams bringing more offense to the table

Junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) has worked his way into the starting lineup thanks mainly to back-to-back strong efforts on the offensive end ... Against North Georgia, Williams posted a career high 22 points in leading the Bucs to the win, and he followed that effort with an 18-point night against Murray State ... Currently, Williams is one of three Bucs averaging double figures scoring this year with 10.4 points per game.

 

Grimm gets start for Bucs against

Morehead State

As the 2009-10 season

has progressed, the Bucs have struggled to find a player who can consistently provide quality minutes at the point guard position ... While helping rally the Bucs against Murray State, freshman point Bruce Grimm (Rochester, Ind.) turned some heads and ultimately earned the start against Morehead State ... In his last two games, Grimm has scored 11 and 12 points, respectively, and against Morehead he was 3-of-7 from 3-point range and finished with three steals to go with two assists.

 

Hubbard steps up his game, averaging

double-double

Much has been written and reported about junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and his efforts to improve his offensive game, and those strides most recently led to being selected A-Sun Player of the Week one week ago ... Already considered one of the best defenders in the A-Sun, Hubbard posted a 32-point and 10-rebound effort in the win over Arkansas and dropped in another game-high 26 in the win over UNF ... He currently leads the Bucs with 14.8 points per game and 8.1 rebounds a contest ... while he has posted double-doubles in six of the last 10 games, his efforts began to pay off on the offensive end against Chattanooga back on Nov. 17 ... Setting career bests for points (26) and rebounds (13), Hubbard collected his first career double-double against the Mocs ... In addition, he hit his first 3-point shot in three seasons with the Bucs, and didn't stop there -- ultimately finishing with four long-range bombs on the night.

 

Record setting night from the arc for Bucs

Hitting on 11-of-14 shots from 3-point range against Arkansas, the Bucs put their name in a multiple of record books ... First, those numbers set a new school record for 3-point field goal percentage in a game with a 78.6 percent mark, breaking the previous record of 66.7 percent which had been done three times previously ... In addition, it was the best shooting effort in the "nation" this season for teams taking more than 10 shots in a game ... And it was the best percentage by a team in the A-Sun since Nov. 28, 1999 when UCF was 11-of-14 in a game against South Carolina state.

 

Sollazzo steps up on night ETSU honors Coy

Before the start of the Bucs' Homecoming game against Appalachian State (11/14), the ETSU community honored the memory of former center Seth Coy, who died in a car accident last summer ... His former roommate and friend, Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), now wears Coy's No. 43 jersey and against the Mountaineers he played inspired basketball ... Sollazzo set a career high with 13 points and hit two critical foul shots in the final seconds to get the win.

 

Bench play critical in win over Mountaineers

With only 21 points of offensive production from its starting five on Saturday, the Bucs got a huge lift from its bench against the Mountaineers ... All three ETSU players to reach double figures -- Adam Sollazzo (13), Justin Tubbs (11) and Sheldon Cooley (11) -- all came off the bench, and the Bucs got a total of 41 from the reserves as a whole ... With injuries costing the Bucs several offensive weapons, look for ETSU to continue to count on the bench.

 

Bucs offering families "value" for attending games

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 28, 2009) - With the considerable expense of entertainment options today and the difficult economic times faced by many local families, the ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in cooperation with Fun Expedition™ Family Center of Johnson City are teaming up to make it more affordable than ever for families to attend Buccaneer basketball games during this 2009-10 season ... The Fun Expedition™ Family Pack and the Fun Expedition™ Family Zone will provide ETSU fans with a pair of options to make attending ETSU basketball games easier on the pocketbook. In fact, the program will offer tickets for free to children 10 and under (with the purchase of an adult ticket), while also offering discounts of more than 50 percent on packaged ticket deals ... Below are specific details of how each of these two programs will work:

           -- Fun Expedition™ Family Packs: These special family packs will contain 4 bronze level tickets (located in sections C and E), a concessions coupon for FREE popcorn, and a coupon from FUN EXPEDITION™. The total cost of one pack is $20, which is a savings of well over 50 percent on the regular cost of admission (reserved single seats are $10 each).

           -- Fun Expedition™ Family Zone: In addition to the family pack option, the Fun Expedition Family Zone will provide kids 10 and under a FREE Blue Level ticket (located in sections B and F) with the purchase of an adult Blue Level ticket. The free kids' tickets will be available to the first 900 fans, and these special family tickets can be purchased at the booth located between Memorial Center and Brooks Gym. Parents with more than two children will be able to get as many as four FREE tickets with the purchase of two regular-priced tickets.

 

Big questions surround Bucs entering 2009-10

With the loss of seniors Courtney Pigram and Kevin Tiggs -- one of the most dynamic offensive duos in the country -- the Bucs have a lot of questions to answer on the offenisve end of the floor this season  ... Having averaged 78.1 points a game a year ago, which ranked 21st nationally in all of Division I play -- ETSU has lost 44.0 of those points to graduation when one includes now departed senior Greg Hamlin in that trio ... In addition to the losses on offensive, the Bucs' 13-man roster includes just eight players who have experienced actual floor time in college ... The other five players are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or walk-ons.