Bucs to face Belmont in battle for first place in A-Sun
Wednesday, February 13, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 13, 2008) -- While the sting may remain from an unexpected loss to Stetson last Sunday, the ETSU men's basketball team has a chance to end the pain Thursday night when the Buccaneers will face rival Belmont for a share of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season race. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in this special Valentine's Day matchup.

The Bucs (14-10, 8-3) are winners of six of their last seven games, but they will face a Belmont team that has won five straight and holds a 17-8 overall and 9-2 league mark. In addition, ETSU will be looking to overcome the Bruins' jinx, which has led to a 1-5 record for ETSU against Belmont in the last six meetings.

In addition to the quality matchup, Bowman Jewelers will be making this special Valentine's Day matchup special by donated a diamond ring valued at $2,800, that will be given away at halftime.

Fans unable to attend the game can watch live via the ASun.TV live video stream, or can listen to the MSHA Buccaneer Sports Network radio broadcast by clicking on the above link. For more on the game, click the game notes link located above or read the game notes below.

Buc Shots

A seven-time NCAA Tournament and two-time NIT participant, the ETSU Buccaneers enter the 2007-08 season coming off a regular season Atlantic Sun Conference championship with a 24-10 overall record, and a 16-2 league mark a year ago ... The Bucs return the 2006-07 A-Sun Player of the Year in junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), as well as the A-Sun Coach of the Year Murry Bartow and All A-Sun Freshman team pick Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) ... Along with returning players like Pigram and Smith, the Bucs also return significant contributors to last season's success such as senior post Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.), senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna), and senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) ... Newcomers for the Bucs that are expected to contribute early and often include junior college transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), who was the JuCo Division II National Player of the Year last season, and lightning quick JuCo point guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) ... Several Bucs are currently leading A-Sun statistical categories, see page 6 of this notebook for more information on those players and their rank ... In addition, see where the Bucs ranks as a team and individually on the national charts on Page 4.

The series against Belmont

The Bucs and Bruins have met 11 times in their histories, with ETSU holding a 6-5 advantage ... However, the Bucs were a perfect 5-0 against Belmont prior to 2005, when ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Since that time, ETSU is 1-5 against Belmont ... In fact, three of those games have gone to overtime, with ETSU going 1-2 in those contests.

Last time against Belmont

NASHVILLE (Jan. 17, 2008) - Junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) set a Curb Event Center record with 30 points and the ETSU men's basketball team shot an impressive 61 percent from the floor, but once again it was the Belmont Bruins that still found a way to beat the Buccaneers 86-83 in Atlantic Sun Conference play Thursday night ... The Buccaneers (8-9 overall, 2-2 A-Sun) were done in by 12 3-pointers by the Bruins - eight of which came in the second half. In addition, Belmont (11-7, 3-1) grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and turned those into a 25-12 advantage in second half points ... The Bucs fell behind 2-0 but from there never trailed again until 12 minutes left in the game when Belmont went up 58-56 on a lay up by Belmont's Will Peeples. While ETSU was able to take the lead back a couple of times from there, the Bruins ultimately held an advantage of as many as seven points at 75-68 with 4:58 left ... However, ETSU rallied again, and when Buc sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) was fouled on a defensive rebound with 13 seconds left, he converted the two free throws to make it 84-83. Belmont's Andy Wicke was fouled on the inbounds pass and hit his two shots from the charity stripe, and the Bucs' Courtney Pigram (Memphis) missed his 3-point attempt from the top of the key as time expired ... In the first half, the Buccaneers shot a blistering 63 percent from the floor and got 12 points each from posts Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) and Tiggs, building a lead of as many as 11 points at 38-27 with just over three minutes left in the half. However, despite hitting on just 38 percent of its shots before the intermission, the Bruins went 7-of-10 from the foul line compared to just 1-of-2 for the Bucs. It was that disparity that allowed Belmont to recover from the 11-point deficit and outscore the Bucs 10-2 to close out the half and make it 40-37 at the break ... For the game, Tiggs led all scorers, while Reed and Pigram netted 17 and 15 points, respectively. For Belmont, Wicke scored a game high 16 points, while Keaton Belcher added 14, Shane Dansby pitched in 13 and Justin Hare posted 12. ... The Bruins finished 12-of-30 from 3-point range for a 40 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc, while the Bucs were 18-of-21 from the foul line for an 86 percent clip. The Bucs committed just 15 turnovers, while the Bruins also valued the ball with just 13 turnovers themselves.

Last time out

DELAND, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2008) - In ETSU's losses this season, the Buccaneers have struggled at long stretches to produce scoring opportunities. That same issue once again cost the Bucs Sunday ... Able to score just one field goal in the final 6:08 of Sunday's game at Stetson, the Buccaneers watched as the Hatters outscored them 16-3 down the stretch to pull off an upset win and temporarily derail ETSU's regular season title hopes 68-56 in Atlantic Sun Conference action at the Edmunds Center. The Bucs' 56 points was the lowest offensive output for the team this season ... With the loss, the Bucs drop to 14-10 overall, 8-3 in A-Sun play, while Stetson improves to 11-12, 7-4. Now ETSU will turn its attention to Belmont, which enters Memorial Center Thursday night in a game that will be for first place in the league. Tip off against the Bruins is set for 7 p.m. ... The first half was ugly for both teams, with the Bucs having trouble shooting and Stetson having issues simply holding onto the basketball. ETSU hit on just 39 percent of its shots in the first half, and the Bucs were just 2-of-8 from 3-point range. But despite the poor shooting, the Hatters' offense didn't capitalize, as the ETSU defensive pressure forced 16 Stetson turnovers and kept the Bucs in the game. Stetson's largest lead of the half was five, while the Bucs led by as many as three, but the two teams finished the first 20 minutes tied 32-32 ... In the second half, both teams continued to battle back and forth with several lead changes and neither team holding any more than a four-point lead until the 6:08 mark. But after sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) hit a pair of free throws to make it 53-52 in favor of the Bucs, the ETSU offense went in the deep freeze and Stetson would outscore the Bucs 16-3 the rest of the way to pick up the win ... The Hatters out-rebounded the Bucs 41-29 and shot 43 percent from the floor on the night, 42 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Despite committing 22 turnovers, the Hatters still got a key 20-point effort from Garfield Blair and 10 from Eric Diaz to lead their offensive game ... Meanwhile, the Bucs were led by 15 points apiece from junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis). For the game, the Bucs shot just 36 percent from the floor and 20 percent from behind the arc.

Troubles A Bruin

A quick look at the last two year's results for ETSU and there's no doubt the Bucs have had trouble with Belmont ... The Bucs are 1-4 against their A-Sun in-state rivals since joining the league in 2005 ... Two of those games were won easily by Belmont, but the other three were overtime affairs, with the Bruins hitting 3-pointers in the final seconds of two of those games to win ... Here is a breakdown of those meetings

Date Result Site

Dec. 1, 2005 Belmont 88-85 (OT) Johnson City, Tenn.

Feb. 26, 2006 Belmont 99, ETSU 78 Nashville, Tenn.

Jan. 2, 2007 Belmont 75, ETSU 74 (OT) Johnson City, Tenn.

Jan. 25, 2007 ETSU 80, Belmont 70 (OT) Nashville, Tenn.

March 3, 2007 Belmont 94, ETSU 67 Johnson City

Jan. 17, 2008 Belmont 86, ETSU 83 Nashville, Tenn.


Bucs to play Tennessee Tech in ESPN BracketBusters

The ETSU men's basketball team will play host to former Ohio Valley Conference rival and in-state foe Tennessee Tech as part of the annual ESPN BracketBuster Saturday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. inside Memorial Center ... The Buccanneers and the Golden Eagles have met 66 times in a series that dates back to 1923. The two teams are tied in the series 33-33, but the Bucs have enjoyed three straight wins, with the last meeting coming in 2004 ... "This will be a good late season test for our team as we prepare for our conference tournament," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team is currently enjoying a five-game winning streak. "We have a long tradition against Tennessee Tech, and this will be a fun matchup for our fans that remember the days in the OVC. Having a return trip next year to Tennessee Tech will also give our fans a non-conference game they can travel to easily." For more on Tennessee Tech, visit www.ttusports.com.

Swader, Strong power resurgent offense

During their last seven games, the Buccaneers have found their rythm on offense thanks in great part to the shooting of senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) and senior guard Travis Strong (Memphis) ... In going 6-1, the Bucs are averaging 80.6 points a game ... Individually, Swader is averaging 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds a game, while Strong is averaging 10.8 points a game ... As for percentage shooting, Strong is 29-of-31 from the foul line (94 percent) and is hitting 36 percent from beyond 3-point range ... Meanwhile, Swader is connecting on 58 percent from the floor and 46 percent from 3-point range.

Tiggs taking over

With his second A-Sun Player of the Week honor now in his possession, junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) is certainly making an impression on the ETSU basketball program and the Atlantic Sun Conference in his first season wearing the Blue and Gold ... After several strong performances, Tiggs is second in scoring (15.8 ppg), and first in rebounding (5.9 rpg) and steals (1.8) on the team ... In the league, he ranks second in field goal percentage (57 percent) and is sixth in free throw percentage (80 percent) ... This season, he has already posted three double-doubles, and has reached double figures in scoring 15 times this season.

Bucs' RPI, Strength of Schedule rank among best in nation

Though the Bucs are now 14-10 on the year, the team's slow start at the beginning of the year was understandable when considering ETSU played an exceptionally tough early season slate ... As of Jan. 21 the Buccaneers' strength of schedule (SOS) ranked 74th in the country according to RealtimeRPI.com ... That SOS rank is obvious when looking at the RPI of ETSU's opponents in the early season schedule, which included -- at the time -- St. Mary's (4th), Dayton (7th) and Syracuse (11th) ... In fact, until just recently the Bucs SOS was as high at 18th in the country, before entering conference play ... As for RPI, the Bucs rank a respectable 138th out of 342 Division I teams.

Home Sweet Dome

Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 116-37 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 76 percent ... The Bucs had won five straight at Memorial Center during the 2006-07 season before a loss to Belmont (1/2) ... The Bucs then rattled off 10 straight at home to stand at 15-1 on the Memorial Center floor that season, but fell to Belmont in the final game of the year in the championship of the A-Sun Tournament ... This year, the Bucs are 9-1 at Memorial Center.

The Bucs at the Rainbow Classic

Spending a week in Hawaii during the winter months is always enjoyable, but ETSU's second trip ever to the Rainbow Classic was a bittersweet experience ... While the Bucs picked up their first win over a Southeastern Conference opponent since 1991-92 with a 76-58 victory over Georgia in the first round, the team finished the trip 1-2 after falling in back-to-back games to St. Mary's and Louisiana-Lafayette ... While the St. Mary's game was expected to be difficult -- considering the Gaels were ranked No. 2 in the RPI -- the 82-80 overtime loss to a 3-7 Lafayette team kept the Bucs from evening their season record to 6-6 coming home from the islands ... In two trips to the Rainbow, the Bucs are now 2-4 all time.

Another championship banner

With a win against Stetson (2/22), the Bucs wrapped up an outright 2006-07 A-Sun regular season title and garnered the No. 1 seed in the week's league championship tournament ... For ETSU, it was the continuation of a recent string of success that dates back to the 2000-2001 season ... In all, the Bucs have captured championships in five of the last seven seasons, including back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips in 2002-03 and 2003-04, and a trip to the NIT in 2006-07 ... Here is the championship breakdown:

2000-2001 -- Southern Conference North Division Championship

2001-2002 -- SoCon North Division championship

2002-2003 -- SoCon North Division championship; SoCon Tournament Championship

2003-2004 -- SoCon North Division championship, SoCon Regular Season Championship, SoCon Tournament Championship

2006-2007 -- Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Championship

Non-conference home win streak at 16

Over the last three seasons, the Bucs have fared well against non-conference opponents within the confines of Memorial Center ... In fact, the Bucs have won 16 straight non-conference homes games since losing a 90-73 contest to Fresno State back on Nov. 27, 2004 ... ETSU has enjoyed wins over teams such as Marshall (2), Chattanooga, Central Michigan, Morehead State, Tennessee Tech, UNC Asheville, Eastern Kentucky, Radford and Appalachian State in that time frame ... Against conference opponents, the Bucs have won 10 straight regular season conference games.

Pigram eclipses 1,000 points

Beginning just his third season at ETSU, junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) has already eclipsed the 1,000-point mark with a jump shot from the right corner at the 17:52 mark against Chattanooga (11/28) ... That basket gave Pigram 1,000 for his career and following the contest with the Mocs ... The junior now stands at 1,323 for his career and ranks for 10th on the all-time program scoring list ... The 6-1 shooting guard scored 325 points as a freshman and then netted a remarkable 614 as a sophomore ... His 614 points a year ago ranks 6th on the single season list.

1,123 wins and counting

With a win Jan. 25, 2007 against Belmont, the Bucs collected the program's 1,100th win all-time ... In over 80 years of basketball, the Bucs are 1,123-903.

Bucs on the Tube

Along with the new ASun.TV package which will video stream all ETSU men's and women's home games on the Internet, the Bucs will again have a significant presence on the television screen as well this year ... In fact, ETSU's trips to Oklahoma State (Dec. 8) and Syracuse (Dec. 15) both aired live locally, with the Oklahoma State game showing on WKPT (ABC) and the Syracuse contest aired on WJHL (CBS) ... The Bucs will also appear on regional cable through the Friday night CSS Atlantic Sun Game of the Week with the Jan. 25th trip to Jacksonville and the Feb. 1 home game against Mercer scheduled for air on CSS ... In addition, Charter Main Street will air its weekly ETSU replay on Charter 13 and Comcast 14 Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., with the weekly games beginning on Dec. 4th with the Tennessee-Wesleyan game.

Chilton's No. 42 comes out of retirement

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 31, 2007) - For many years, Tom Chilton's No. 42 has held a special place in ETSU basketball's history. Next season, fans will see that special number on the floor once again ... Chilton, who ranks first all-time with 26.1 points per game and fifth on the all-time scoring list with 1,801, has agreed to allow junior transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) to wear his No. 42 jersey for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 season. Chilton, who now makes his home in Madison, Ind., said he was honored a current player would want to wear his number ... "I wish him the best and I'm honored he wants to wear No. 42," said Chilton, whose 42 is the only retired number in ETSU's program history. "I hope he always considers that the number doesn't make the player, but the player makes the number. A lot of hard work and effort went into that number during my time there, but ETSU gave a lot back to me and I wouldn't be where I am today without that university, so I'm happy to allow the number to be worn again." ... ETSU head coach Murry Bartow said he was appreciative Chilton would allow the number to come out of retirement, and he reiterated that the number will go back into retirement two years from now ... "Tom Chilton was one of the finest players to ever wear an ETSU uniform, and his willingness to allow Kevin to wear the number shows he is still proud to be a part of our program's tradition," Bartow said. "It's our expectation that Kevin understand the importance of the number and the responsibility that goes with wearing it."