Bucs set to open A-Sun sked against USC Upstate
Friday, January 4, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 4, 2008) -- After a challenging pre-conference schedule, the ETSU men's basketball team will get to the business of winning a regular season Atlantic Sun Conference championship on Saturday, as the Buccaneers open league play at home against USC Upstate.

The Bucs and Spartans -- who have never met before -- will tip off at 4 p.m. inside Memorial Center. It will be the second game of the day, as the ETSU women will meet USC Upstate in the first game of the doubleheader at 1:30 p.m.

For ETSU (6-7), the season so far has been highlighted by a schedule that ranks as the nation's 18th toughest slate by realtimerpi.com. The Bucs have faced three teams that rank in the Top 15 nationally, including St. Mary's (4th), Dayton (7th) and Syracuse (11th). As a team, the Bucs currently rank 78th nationally out of 342 Division I programs.

The Bucs hope to replicate their success from a year ago in A-Sun play, when they posted a 16-2 record and finished with the regular season league championship. ETSU will open their conference schedule with three straight home games, with Campbell and Gardner-Webb visiting Johnson City next weekend.

Fans unable to attend the game can watch via the live video streaming accessed at ASun.TV or by clicking the link located above. Free audio of the game is also available at ETSUBucs.com.

For more on Saturday's game, click on the game notebook link 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.), sophomore point guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville), 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.

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 30, 2007) - The ETSU men's basketball team held on despite a 14-0 offensive explosion by Appalachian State in the final three minutes to take an important non-conference victory over its former Southern Conference rival 72-69 at Memorial Center. It was the first meeting between the old foes since the 2004-05 campaign, ETSU's last in the SoCon ... The crowd of 5,017 got a dramatic end to a game that had been dominated throughout by the Buccaneers. Leading 66-50 with 3:49 left in the game, the Bucs' defense looked on as the Mountaineers found their shooting touch and connected on four 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to make it 66-64 with just under a minute remaining ... From there, the Bucs went a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line to ice the game. Senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) was the story of the game, netting a career high 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds for his fourth career double-double. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) turned in the No. 23 jersey he started wearing this season and returned to his freshman No. 1, responding with a season high 15 points ... "That's a huge win for a lot of reasons," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team improved to 6-7. "I'm concerned that we can't seem to play a solid 40 minutes. We played great for 36 minutes, but it got really ugly at the end. It's still a great win especially to beat a team like Appalachian State which was coming off a win over Arkansas last week." ... The Bucs built an early lead in the first half thanks mainly to a stingy 2-3 zone and some poor shooting by the Mountaineers. In the end, the Bucs hit on 58 percent of their shots in the first half and Appalachian State managed just a 23 percent clip to trail 38-20 at the intermission ... From there, ETSU actually built leads of 20 points twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and ultimately held its largest lead of the game at 53-32 with 11:43 remaining in the contest. The Bucs kept the lead at 16 points or more until the final four minutes, when 3-pointers by Appalachian State's Ryann Abraham, Donald Sims, and a pair from Doug McLaughlin-Williams powered the 14-0 burst to make it 66-64 with 56 seconds left ... The two teams traded a pair of free throws from there, but it was Smith who hit four straight from the line to make it 72-66 before a last-second 3-pointer by ASU's Abraham finished the game's scoring ... "Mike switched back to lucky No. 1 and played great," said Bartow, whose team now holds a 16-game home win streak against non-conference opponents which dates back to 2005. "Andrew was huge. We tell him all the time he can be an all-league player and that he's capable of those types of numbers all the time. His issue is just consistency." ... Along with Smith and Reed, the Bucs got 12 points and seven assists from junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), who was pressed into point guard duty with the dismissal of sophomore guard Dequan Twilley (Shelbyville), who Bartow said "was not meeting the standards of our team." ... For Appalachian State, Sims scored a team-high 13 points, while McLaughlin-Williams pitched in 12. The Bucs shot 48 percent for the game and 79 percent from the foul line, while the Mountaineers hit on only 39 percent from the floor and 47 percent from the line. The Bucs now lead the all-time series against Appalachian State, 74-46 ... ETSU wraps up its preconference schedule at 6-7, a slate that ranks in the Top 30 nationally in strength of schedule. The Bucs will begin Atlantic Sun Conference play Saturday at home against USC Upstate, with tip set for 4 p.m. The game will be a part of a doubleheader, as the Lady Bucs will also face Upstate at 1:30 p.m.

The series against USC Upstate

This will be the first ever meeting between the Bucs and USC Upstate ... The Trojans are playing their first season as members of NCAA Division I, after spending several seasons at the Division II level as members of the Peachbelt Conference.

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

Though the Bucs are off to a 6-7 start, it's understandable when considering ETSU has only played four home games so far this season ... More importantly, the Buccaneers' strength of schedule (SOS) currently ranks 18th 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 includes St. Mary's (4th), Dayton (7th) and Syracuse (11th) ... As for RPI, the Bucs rank a respectable 78th out of 342 Division I teams.

Home Sweet Dome

Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 111-36 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 75 percent ... The Bucs ETSU 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 4-0 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.

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.

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

New starting five

During the Bucs recent trip to the Rainbow Classic, head coach Murry Bartow used a completely new starting five, with junior guard Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.), junior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis), sophomore guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), junior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and senior forward Andrew Reed (Port Richey, Fla.) ... While that group went only 1-2 on the trip, they did pick up the win over SEC foe Georgia and lost a close overtime battle with Louisiana-Lafayette ... However, the Bucs reshuffled the lineup again versus Appalachian State, moving Pigram to the point position, and inserting seniors Travis Strong (Memphis) and Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) to go with Tiggs and Reed.

Davis, Pigram and assist/turnover ratio

One positive to come from the early season schedule as been the play of both junior guards Jocolby Davis (Meridian, Miss.) and Courtney Pigram (Memphis) ... From a distribution of the basketball and offensive production standpoint, both have shown an ability to pick up assists without turning the ball over ... Currently, Davis ranks third in the A-Sun with an assist/turnover ratio of 1.8 ... As for assists per game, Pigram ranks 3rd with 4.0 a game, while Davis ranks 8th at 3.3.

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 1,142 for his career and ranks 20th 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.

Swader, Tiggs breaking out

Entering this season, a great deal was expected of both junior transfer Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and senior forward Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) ... Following 13 games, the two are definitely meeting or surpassing those expections ... In the Bucs' win at UNCA, Tiggs scored the game winner with 1.7 seconds left and also picked up 20 points ... In the first Marshall game, Tiggs broke out with a game-high 26 points, and setting career marks in most every statistical category ... In all, Tiggs has scored at least 20 points in five of the Bucs' 12 games, and currently stands tall on the Atlantic Sun stat sheets, ranking second in field goal percentage and sixth in free throw percentage ... Meanwhile, Swader has provided an immediate offensive threat in his first 13 games, currently standing fifth on the team with 7.3 points per game ... Currently, Swader is fourth in the A-Sun with a 43 percent 3-point field goal percentage.

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." ... Tiggs, the 2007 National Junior College Division II Player of the Year, said he certainly understood the history behind the number ... "Mr. Chilton was and is a legend here, so wearing his number comes with a great deal of responsibility," Tiggs said. "I just want to play in a way that would make him proud."

1,114 wins and counting

With a win Jan. 25 against Belmont, the Bucs collected the program's 1,100th win all-time ... In over 80 years of basketball, the Bucs are 1,114-901-27.

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 airing 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 ... For a complete schedule, visit ETSUBucs.com.

Bucs dominate Preseason All A-Sun Picks

Last season, ETSU won its first Atlantic Sun Conference men's basketball title, but Belmont denied the Buccaneers the conference's automatic bid in the final of the General Shale Brick Men's Basketball Championship ... Entering the 2007-08 season, both the coaches and the media predict that the Buccaneers will again be battling the Bruins for conference supremacy ... Both chose ETSU as the favorite to win the conference and defend its regular-season title with Belmont second ... The Bucs were the clear choice by the media to win the tournament ... The Buccaneers, who have gone 28-10 in A-Sun play in their two years in the league, will continue to be led by Courtney Pigram (Memphis). The junior from Memphis, Tenn. was named the preseason Player of the Year following up his Player of the Year award for the 2006-07 season. As a sophomore, Pigram averaged 18.1 points per game, second-best in the conference and also ranked in the top 10 in steals (2nd, 2.62 SPG), 3-point field goals per game (3rd, 2.62 3-pt FG per game) and assists (7th, 3.74 APG). He turned in one the league's virtuoso performances of the season when he dished out a conference-record 18 assists against Mercer on February 24 to go along with 29 points and eight rebounds. The 18 assists set an A-Sun record, were one off the school record and were the second-highest single-game total in Division I in the last two seasons.