ETSU, Belmont set to meet yet again in crucial A-Sun rivalry matchup
Sunday, January 18, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 19, 2009) -- As it has so many times in ETSU's brief history in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Buccaneers matchup with Belmont Monday evening inside Memorial Center once again carries championship ramifications.

The Bucs and Bruins -- the only two teams to win titles in the A-Sun over the past three seasons -- will meet at 7 p.m. inside the Dome, with a share of first place in the regular season standings on the line. In addition, the Buccaneers will be looking to avenge a controversial loss to Belmont in the semifinals of the A-Sun Tournament last March, where a technical foul call on ETSU in the final seconds ultimately gave the Bruins the lead and the victory.

ETSU, which once held a perfect 5-0 series mark against Belmont, now trails the all-time series 6-7 after losing seven of the last eight -- with three of those games going to overtime. It has unquestionably become the biggest "rivarly" game in A-Sun play for the Buccaneers.

The contest will be available on the web, both via video streaming at ASun.TV and through the MSHA Buccaneer Sports Network's live radio feed. For more on the game click the game notes link above, or read the game notes below:


The series against Belmont

The Bucs and Bruins have met 13 times in their histories, with Belmont holding a 7-6 advantage ... The Bucs were a perfect 5-0 against Belmont prior to 2005, when ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference ... Since that time, ETSU is 1-7 against Belmont ... In fact, three of those games have gone to overtime, with ETSU going 1-2 in those contests, ... The last meeting between the two was a 69-65 Belmont win in the semifinals of the A-Sun Tournament, which will be remembered for a controversial technical foul call that gave the Bruins the lead with just seconds left on the clock.

Last time against Belmont

NASHVILLE (March 7, 2008) - What may be one of the most controversial foul calls in Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament history highlighted a nightmarish final seven minutes for the ETSU men's basketball team, as the Buccaneers watched a 10-point advantage vanish in the final minutes Friday night of a 69-65 loss to rival Belmont inside the Allen Arena ... Leading 63-53 with 6:22 remaining in the game, Belmont went on an 11-2 run to make it 65-64 with 1:22 left on the clock. From there, the Bucs and Bruins made defensive stops, but with less than 30 seconds left a mad scramble on the floor ultimately ended with senior Kenyona Swader (Smyrna) being fouled by Belmont's Andy Wicke with just 17 seconds left. Following the whistle, official Doug Sirmons called a technical foul on Swader ... The end result was Belmont's Justin Hare hitting a pair of free throws on the technical to give Belmont the lead, and Swader later missed the front end of his one-and-one. ETSU was forced to foul at that point and ultimately took the loss ... "This is the most disappointing loss I've had as a head coach," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, who made no comment to the media about the technical call. "We just couldn't make shots the last seven minutes." ... The foul call tarnished what was otherwise a great game for Swader, who finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds to post his fourth career double-double. As a team, the Bucs had also managed to stall the Belmont offense, which had thrived against ETSU en route to a 5-1 record over the last six meetings. On this night, the Bruins hit on just 33 percent of their shots and were 9-of-39 from 3-point range (23 percent). But it was still not enough, as the Bucs finished the year 19-13 overall.

Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 17, 2009) - Overcoming a 15-point halftime deficit, senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) forced overtime on a game-tying layup with .7 seconds left in regulation, and the ETSU men's basketball team went on to outscore Atlantic Sun Conference foe Lipscomb 12-9 in the extra period to take a hard-fought 85-82 win Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Center ... With the win, ETSU (12-5, 6-1 A-Sun) moves back into a tie with Jacksonville and Belmont at the top of A-Sun standings, as the Buccaneers prepare for Monday's showdown with Belmont inside Memorial Center at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Lipscomb drops to 6-10, 2-5 ... The Buccaneers got a team high 27 points from senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.), while Pigram finished with 26, and junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) pitched in 10. Most importantly, freshman point guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) came off the bench to play his best game so far, scoring 12 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out six assists in 30 minutes of floor time ... Trailing by as many as 17 in the first half and facing a 45-30 game at the break, the second half started in much the same fashion for the Bucs, with ETSU struggling and Lipscomb holding onto its 15-point lead at 51-36 with just over 15 minutes left in the game. However, at that point the ETSU rally began ... Over the next seven minutes, ETSU went to its fullcourt pressure game and outscored the Bisons 22-7 to tie the game at 58-58 on a pair of free throws from Tiggs with 8:56 left in the contest. ETSU finally got its first lead of the game with 7:10 left on a pair of free throws from Pigram that made it 64-62. The Bucs' lead increased to four at that point, but Lipscomb managed an 8-1 run of its own to regain a 70-67 advantage with 3:37 left in the game. A pair of alley-oop baskets from Tiggs - including a slam dunk with 2:36 - regained the lead for ETSU at 71-70 with 2:36 left ... From there, Lipscomb stopped two ETSU scoring opportunities and regained the advantage when a shot by senior guard Michael Lusk missed the mark and sophomore forward Adnan Hodzic hit the put-back layup to make it 72-71 with 15 seconds left. Tiggs turned the ball over on the next possession with 13 seconds left, and after Jimmy Oden made the first and missed the second of two foul shots, Pigram got the ball and scored the game-tying basket with .7 seconds left ... In the extra period, Lipscomb scored the first four points, but a 3-pointer by ETSU freshman Jarvis Jones (Memphis) sparked a 9-0 ETSU run that made it 82-77 with 1:16 left. Lipscomb's Josh Slater then sank a jumper to make it 82-79, and after swapping baskets the score stood 85-82 in favor of the Bucs with 31 seconds remaining. However, from there, Tiggs and Sollazzo combined to go 0-for-4 and the charity stripe and left the door open for the Bisons, but Lipscomb was unable to capitalize on the opportunity and ETSU escaped with the win.

Troubles "A Bruin"

A quick look at the last three year's results for ETSU and there's no doubt the Bucs have had trouble with Belmont ... The Bucs are 1-7 against their A-Sun in-state rivals since joining the league in 2005 ... Three of those games were won easily by Belmont, but the other fourwere tight affairs, with three going to overtime and 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.

Feb. 14, 2008 Belmont 87, ETSU 75 Johnson City, Tenn.

March 7, 2008 Belmont 69, ETSU 65 * Nashville, Tenn.

* -- Game played at Lipscomb in A-Sun Tournament

Pigram, Tiggs impressive on offensive end in 2008-09

Seniors Courtney Pigram (Memphis) and Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) have enjoyed impressive offensive performances this season, and the two rank among the nation's best when it comes to offensive production ... As of Jan. 11, Tiggs leads the Atlantic Sun Conference and ranks 20th nationally with a 20.3 points per game average, while Pigram ranks second in the A-Sun and 29th nationally with 19.1 points a game ... In addition, Pigram has moved to 6th on the ETSU all-time scoring list with 1,797 points in his career, and he ranks 10th on the A-Sun all-time scoring list ... Additionally, Pigram is one of just four active players nationally with more than 1,500 points, 350 assists and 200 steals in their careers ... That list includes:

Player, School......................................................Asts Stls Pts

David Holston, Chicago State 419 204 1959

Courtney Pigram, ETSU 353 204 1797

Dominic James, Marquette 576 208 1631

Jerel McNeal, Marquette 375 245 1606

Hamlin matches

team block record

With his six blocks against North Florida, senior Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) put his name along some of ETSU's greatest players ... Hamlin matched the school record for blocks in a game, joining former Bucs Brad Nuckles, Greg Dennis, Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood and Eryk Thomas on top of that list.

Pigram remarkable in 39-point effort against Jacksonville

He had "that" look, and ETSU fans were treated to one of the most impressive individual performances in Buccaneer basketball history ... Senior guard Courtney Pigram's 39-point effort in ETSU's 84-82 victory over Jacksonville in Jan. 3 tied for 9th on the program's all-time single game scoring list, while coming up just three points shy of the Memorial Center's all-time single game scoring mark of 42 points, which was set by Dimeco Childress against Western Carolina back in 2002.

12-5 start ranks as one of best ever for Bucs

The Bucs 12-5 mark matches is the best start for ETSU since the 2003-04 season, when that team opened the year at 13-4 through 16 games ... The Bucs' three non-conference road wins this season (Tn. Tech, Marshall and Appalachian), also fall just one win shy of the 2003-04 season in which the Bucs won four non-conference road games (Houston, UNC-A, Tn. Tech and Fresno State) ... That 2003-04 squad ultimately finished with 27 wins, a SoCon regular season and tournament title, and a trip to the NCAAs.

ETSU the "Only" A-Sun team picked among nation's best

"Prestige" programs

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (July 22, 2008) - Since the beginning of the modern era for NCAA Division I-A basketball - marked by the expansion of the NCAA Tournament field to 64 teams in 1984-85 - the ETSU men's basketball program ranks in the Top 30 percent of the 300 programs that were eligible for the postseason at that time, this according to a new "Prestige" ranking released by ... The Buccaneers, who have enjoyed six NCAA Tournament trips, one NIT berth, seven 20-win seasons, and a slew of conference regular season and tournament championships since 1984-85, ranked tied for 82nd out of 300 teams, meaning they were in the Top 27 percent of schools making the list. ETSU was ranked ahead of every current Atlantic Sun Conference team, as well as former Southern Conference rivals Appalachian State, Western Carolina, Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro. The Bucs also were placed ahead of every current member of the Colonial Athletic Association with the exception of Old Dominion ... In addition, the Bucs ranked ahead of SEC schools such as Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia, Mississippi and Auburn, as well as other major programs such as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, DePaul, Bradley, Clemson, California and Florida State.

Pigram makes history with triple-double

With his 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Wingate (11/20), senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) became just the second ETSU player to record a triple-double and the first to reach that special feat in NCAA Division I play this season ... He joins former Buc Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) on that exclusive list at ETSU ... In Atlantic Sun Conference play, Pigram is just the sixth player to accomplish that feat since 1996-97, and he is the first to post a triple-double against a non-conference opponent.

Home Sweet Dome

Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 123-39 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 championship of the A-Sun Tourney... In 2007-08, the Bucs were 11-2 at Memorial Center ... This season the Bucs are 6-1 at home.