Second-half defensive effort propels Bucs past King, 82-48
Junior Dillion Sneed goes up for a shot.
Junior Dillion Sneed goes up for a shot.

Monday, November 29, 2004

JOHNSON CITY, TENN. (Nov. 29, 2004) - Holding a six-point lead over King College with 37 seconds remaining in the first half, the East Tennessee State men's basketball team went to its defense to create three baskets on a pair of turnovers in the final seconds.


The result was a 45-33 halftime lead and a new vigor on the defensive end of the floor, as the Buccaneers went on to hold King scoreless for the first eight minutes of the second half and took an 82-48 win Monday night in front of 4,077 fans at Memorial Center. It was the first meeting between the two schools since 1950.


"I thought the last 30 seconds of the first half was pivotal because it took a six-point lead and made it 12," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 2-2 on the season. "That gave us some energy in the first half. For the first 19 minutes, King did some nice things to stay in the game, but for the last 20 minutes and 20 seconds we played well enough to pull away."


            With a trip to face a Top 25 team in Alabama on Wednesday, the Bucs were looking to tune up against the Tornado. Five Bucs scored in double figures on the night, with junior Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) picking up his third career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and junior transfer Chris Mitchell (Chicago) collecting his second double-double in four games at ETSU with 12 points and 12 rebounds.


            In addition to Rhoda and Mitchell, freshman Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) scored 13 points, while junior Tim Smith (Tampa, Fla.) and senior Sam Oatman (Neenah, Wis.) netted 12 and 10 points, respectively.


            ETSU trailed King 10-9 with 14:05 left before the intermission, but the Bucs methodically built their lead throughout the rest of the first half. In the second half the Bucs opened with a 14-3 run and never looked back, finishing the game with their largest lead of the night at 34 points.


            The Bucs out-rebounded King 45-37 and shot 47 percent from the floor (31-of-66). ETSU forced 26 turnovers by the Tornado and had 10 steals for the night.


King, which is located in nearby Bristol, Tenn., was led Brent Bradshaw's 12 points and six rebounds. The Tornado dropped to 4-4 on the year.


ETSU now prepares for Alabama, one of the top teams in the Southeastern Conference. Bartow said the Bucs will need their best outing of the year to handle the Crimson Tide. The game will be broadcast live on Fox SportsNet South beginning at 8 p.m. (EST).


            "By far, we'll have to play our best game of the year," Bartow said. "Especially right now without Brad (Nuckles) and not a lot of experience inside, we'll have to go there and play our best."


            The Bucs will return home Saturday, Dec. 4 for their Southern Conference opener, a critical showdown with South Division power College of Charleston. Tip is set for 4:30 p.m. (EST) and the game will again be broadcast on FSN.

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