January 21, 20161st2nd1OT Final
Stats at a GlanceMERETSU
FG Percentage.439 (25-57) .377 (23-61)
3P FG Percentage.133 (2-15) .261 (6-23)
FT Percentage.917 (11-12) .684 (13-19)
Offensive Rebounds914
Defensive Rebounds2823
Total Rebounds3737
Bench Points2417
PointsPhillip Leonard - 18
T.J. Cromer - 20
ReboundsPhillip Leonard - 8
Isaac Banks - 14
AssistsJordan Strawberry - 3
Desonta Bradford - 4
StealsEthan Stair - 1
Desmond Ringer - 1
Jordan Strawberry - 1
James Bento - 1
T.J. Cromer - 3
BlocksDeuce Bello - 3
Bucs to host Mercer in critical SoCon matchup
Bucs to host Mercer in critical SoCon matchup
Wednesday, January 20, 2016

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 20, 2016) – Following a 1-1 road swing, the ETSU men’s basketball team will return to Freedom Hall Thursday night for its most critical Southern Conference game of the season so far, as the Mercer Bears visit at 7 p.m.

The Buccaneers (11-7, 4-1 SoCon) remain tied for first place in the loss column of the conference standings, while Mercer enters the game tied with ETSU thanks to an identical 4-1 league mark.

So far this season, the Bucs have played well on their home court, posting a 7-1 overall record and an unblemished 2-0 SoCon showing. However, the Bears will pose the biggest threat to that perfect conference record when the two teams take to the floor Thursday night.

Following the Mercer matchup, the Bucs will stay in Johnson City to host The Citadel Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

For more on Thursday’s game, read the game notes below or click on the game notebook link to the right. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2015-16 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.


Game Notes

We are “ETSU”

The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics would like to ask both the print and broadcast media to honor our request to be called “ETSU” ... East Tennessee State University in first reference is acceptable, but subsequent references should be ETSU ... On TV graphics please use ETSU ... Our nickname is the Buccaneers, but Bucs is also acceptable.


The Steve Forbes era begins

It seems like only yesterday that Steve Forbes was named the 16th head coach in the history of ETSU basketball back on March 30, 2015 ... But seven months later and the Bucs are ready to begin the Forbes’ era ... Having most recently served two seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State where he helped take the Shockers to the Sweet 16 in 2014-15, Forbes has been heralded for his recruiting ties and his extensive background as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level – which included a five-year stop at the University of Tennessee ... Complete bio information on Forbes can be found at ETSUBucs.com and general coaching records and other statistics are available on Page 2 and Page 5 of this media notes package.


Last time out

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Jan. 16, 2016) – Chattanooga’s Tre’ McLean scored a career high 29 points and the Mocs opened the second half with a decisive offensive run to take a 94-84 win over the ETSU men’s basketball team in a matchup of Southern Conference rivals inside McKenzie Arena. ... With the loss, ETSU drops to 11-7 overall, 4-1 in SoCon play, but remains tied for first place in the loss column of the league standings. Meanwhile, the Mocs improved to 16-3, 5-1. ... Chattanooga was powered by a 54 percent shooting percentage from the field, a 55 percent clip from 3-point range, and an 81 percent effort from the foul line. While the Bucs out-rebounded the Mocs 34-32 and committed just 11 turnovers for the game, ETSU head coach Steve Forbes said Chattanooga’s shooting numbers were just too much to overcome. ... Along with McLean, the Mocs got 20 points from preseason All-SoCon center Justin Tuoyo, while guard Eric Robertson added 15. For the Bucs, senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) finished with a team-high 21 points, while junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) netted 19, senior guard Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) pitched in 15 and sophomore guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) finished with 12. ... The first half was an entertaining scoring fest for both sides. While the Bucs initially started out slowly and fell behind 24-14, they used a 20-6 run midway through the half to take a 34-30 advantage with five minutes left before the break. UTC recovered at that point, regaining the advantage at 45-43 by the intermission. ... Even though Chattanooga led the game at that point, the Bucs had shot 55 percent from the floor in the first half and a trio of dunks by Bello left the pro-UTC crowd stunned. In addition, the Bucs held an 18-12 advantage in rebounding, but did commit eight critical turnovers in the opening 20 minutes that led to easy scores by UTC. ... Unfortunately for the Bucs, UTC came out on fire in the second half, opening with an 11-0 offensive run to build a 13-point lead at 56-43 with 15 minutes left in the game. While ETSU attempted to cut into the lead and got to within eight points at 81-73 with four minutes left in regulation, the Bucs were unable to get any closer the rest of the way. ... As a team, ETSU outscored UTC 35-13 in bench points, and 30-24 in the paint.


The series vs. Mercer

The Bucs lead the all-time series over Mercer 13-8, but ETSU suffered a 69-64 defeat last season in the regular season finale for both teams in Macon, Ga. ... The Bucs had won the earlier meeting in the season, giving them a season split with the Bears. ... The majority of the past 21 matchups were played over a nine-year span, as the two teams were previously members of the Atlantic Sun Conference ... ETSU actually defeated Mercer in the championship game of the 2010 A-Sun Tournament on the Bears home floor.


Last time out against Mercer

MACON, Ga. (Feb. 28, 2015) – For the second game in a row, the ETSU men’s basketball team had to watch an opposing player hit a game-winning shot in the fleeting moments of regulation. ... With Saturday’s game against Mercer tied at 64, the Bears Jibri Bryan sank a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left and the Buccaneers were unable to get a good shot off on their final possession, as ETSU dropped a 69-64 loss to the Bears in Southern Conference basketball play at the University Center. ... ETSU finished the game hitting 12 3-pointers and getting a game-high 24 points from senior guard Jalen Riley (Racine, Wis.), while junior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) netted 18 points after collecting 17 in the first half on five made 3-pointers. Mercer had five players reach double figures led by senior Darious Moten’s 16 points. ... Following Bryan’s game-winning shot, the Bucs did have a possession in the final seconds, but Riley took an off-balanced 3-point attempt. While ETSU’s A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) grabbed the offensive rebound, he lost control of the ball to Mercer. The Bears’ Ike Nwamu was then fouled with .9 seconds left and hit two free throws to ice the win. ... In the first half, the Bucs were deadly from 3-point range, hitting eight threes before the break and shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers helped the Bucs build a lead of as many as 13 points at 27-14 with 8:19 left in the first half. ... However, at that point Mercer used a 14-0 run to take its only lead of the half at 28-27, but Wilson and Riley regained the advantage for the Bucs with back-to-back 3-pointers that made it 33-28. ETSU ultimately led 38-34 at halftime thanks mainly to Wilson’s fifth 3-pointer of the first half, which closed out the team’s scoring with less than 30 seconds left before the intermission. ... After the break, the Bucs hit a pair of early 3-pointers to lead by seven at 46-39, but Mercer responded with a 17-4 run to take its largest lead of the game at 56-50 with 6:48 left on the clock. ETSU answered that run with a 9-1 spurt of its own – powered by a pair of 3-pointers from Riley and three free throws from Rembert – taking the lead back at 59-57 with 3:51 remaining in regulation. ... The game was back and forth at that point until Mercer had the ball with 21.4 seconds left on the game clock and eight left on the shot clock. Bears’ head coach Bob Hoffman called timeout to set a play, and ultimately Bryan found himself open from beyond the arc, hitting the shot with 16 seconds left.


Bucs playing well inside Freedom Hall this season

Having posted a 7-1 record at home this year, the ETSU men’s baskteball team has shown a propensity to play well inside Freedom Hall ... A look at the team’s home statistics show the Bucs shooting 50 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range as a team, while out-rebounding opponents 313-277 and posting an impressive scoring margin of +17.5 ... Individually, several Bucs having enjoyed playing in Freedom Hall ... In particular, senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) has shot 52 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3-point range, and is averaging 19.9 points per game at Freedom Hall ... In addition, junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany Ga.) is shooting 52 percent from the floor, while senior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville) has posted a 49 percent clip from 3-point range at home.


Ge’Lawn doing it all for Bucs

Senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn’s game-winning shot at Georgia Tech (11/22) is just the most obvious indictation of the play and leadership he has displayed so far at ETSU ... Heading into the Mercer matchup, Guyn leads the Bucs in scoring (17.2 ppg), blocks (0.8 bpg) and steals (1.1), and is third in rebounding (4.0 rpg) and assists (2.0 apg) ... In the Bucs’ win over UNC Greensboro earlier this month (1/9), Guyn made several clutch shots and finished with a career high 28 points in the win.


Cromer meeting expectations, earns SoCon POTW

When transfer junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) joined the Buccaneers, he was touted as a scoring threat and a player that would provide some offensive bunch ... He has lived up to that billing, and is currently second on the team with 16.2 points per game and is leading the team with 2.9 assists per contest ... Recently, Cromer hit the game-winning shot against UNC Greensboro (1/9), scoring 20 points and dishing out a career high six assists ... He then followed up that performance with a game-high 23 points and tied the school record for 3-point field goal percentage in a game with a 6-of-7 effort (.875) from outside the arc in the win over VMI (1/11) ... He also score a game-high 19 points in the win over Samford (1/14) ... Those numbers led to Cromer earning SoCon Player of the Week honors for the week of Jan. 5-12.


Bucs “bank”ing on production from junior Isaac Banks

In recent games, junior forward Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.) has definitely stepped up his production ... With a double-double effort of 12 points and 12 rebounds in the win over N.C. Central (1/4), Banks showed that his 10-point, seven-rebound showing in the win over Western Carolina (1/2) may be a trend and not a fluke ... In the Bucs win over Samford (1/14), Banks had 11 points and nine rebounds ... For the year, Banks is averaging 6.2 points and a team-high 5.2 rebounds per game.


Dishing out the assists

As the Bucs adjust and learn the new offensive system of first-year head coach Steve Forbes, the “buy-in” is starting to show up on the stat sheets ... In ETSU’s last six games, the Bucs have enjoyed an efficient offensive approach, dishing out a total of 91 assists, for an average of 15.2 assists per game. ... Prior to those four outings, ETSU had averaged just over 12 assists per game. ... The team dished out a season-high 19 assists against Western, followed by 16 in the win over Central, and 18 each in the victories over UNCG and VMI.


Wilson waking up offensively, eyes 3-point record

It was a slow start to the year for senior forward Lester Wilson (Knoxville), but fortune has taken a turn for the veteran player in recent games ... Scoring 53 points in his last four games, Wilson is averaging 13.3 points per contest and has hit 14 3-pointers in that span, regaining an opportunity to become the program’s leader in 3-point baskets ... With a total of 240 makes from Wilson finds himself 36 makes behind the program leader Courtney Pigram (Memphis), who had 276 3-pointers during his career from 2005-09 ... Wilson has averaged 70 makes a year during his previous three seasons at ETSU, but was averaging just 1.0 3-pointer a game prior to his last four outings ... Now, his average has moved up to 1.7 a game ... He would have to average 2.76 makes during the remainder of the regular season to catch Pigram on the all-time list.


Powering up in the Paint

Rebounding concerns weighed on the Buccaneers earlier this season, but in recent games the Bucs have appeared to make significant strides on the glass ... In particular, ETSU dominated the paint in the 88-51 win over VMI, outrebounding the Keydets 46-26 ... In that game, the Bucs held a 33-21 on the defensive glass and a 13-5 advantage on the offensive boards ... In the Bucs’ 11 wins this season, the team holds an overall +5.2 rebound advantage, compared to a -8.9 margin in their six losses.


Bucs make history with win at Georgia Tech

While ETSU has enjoyed its share of wins over “major” opposition in the past, the Bucs’ win over Georgia Tech earlier this season marked the programs first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference school since defeating N.C. State back in 1991 ... It was also the team’s first win over a “Power 5” Conference team since dropping Arkansas back during the 2009-10 season, and the first win over Georgia Tech since the 1978-79 campaign.


Three-point streak for Bucs dates back nearly 20 years

Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 877 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game. ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.


Bucs postseason resume ranks among mid-major bests

The ETSU men’s basketball team has enjoyed its share of postseason success and ranks as one of the nation’s most prestigious basketball programs ... The Buccaneers have earned berths to the NCAA Tournament nine times (1969, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) and NIT twice (1983, 2007) ... The Bucs made their second trip all-time to the CIT Postseason Tournament in 2014, marking the program’s 13th postseason tournament appearance all-time ... In the Bucs first CIT appearance in 2011, ETSU went 2-1 with wins over Furman and Ohio, advancing to the tournament semifinals before losing to Iona in a hard-fought 83-80 contest at the Dome ... In 2014, the Bucs went 1-1, defeating fellow Southern Conference member Chattanooga before falling to Towson in the quarterfinals.


Newcomers galore for Forbes and company

While Merriweather, McClain, Wilson and Bradford return in the backcourt, the Bucs have also added a wealth of talent at those positions with the addition of a pair of Division I senior transfers Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) from Cincinnati and Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) from Missouri … Both Guyn and Bello completed their degrees at their previous schools, meaning both are eligible to compete immediately at ETSU, and both are expected to play extensive minutes this season … In addition, junior college transfer T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) joins the Bucs after a successful career as a point producer at Columbia State, and true freshman Shemar Johnson (Columbus, Miss.) brings exceptional height to the wing position at 6-foot-6 … In the frontcourt, Banks is the lone returning player but is joined by 7-foot center Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan), who sat out last season with ETSU after transferring from Indiana … Along with those two, the Bucs have also added help for the inside game this season by signing junior college transfers Nigel Holley (Wilmington, N.C.) and Abednego “Benny” Lufile (Burlington, Ontario, Canada), as well as true freshman post Toriano Stokes (Memphis, Tenn.) … Beyond those players that will be eligible this season, the Bucs have also added Indiana transfer Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Wichita State transfer Tevin Glass (Greensboro, N.C.) who will miss this season due to NCAA transfer rules.


Buc bits

It is a new day for the ETSU men’s basketball program, as the Buccaneers welcome first-year head coach Steve Forbes and his assistant coaching staff to the program for the 2015-16 season ... Forbes, a highly successful assistant coach at the Division I level at programs such as Tennessee, Wichita State and Texas A&M, wasted no time revamping the ETSU roster, as the program’s lineup has not seen this much restructuring since the start of the 1997 season ... Returning just six players from last season’s squad, Forbes and company have utilized their vast recruiting ties to bring in 10 new players to the program … This group of 10 will include four transfers from Division I programs such as Cincinnati, Indiana, Missouri and Witchita State, along with four junior college transfers and two incoming high school prospects.