December 31, 20161st2ndFinal
Stats at a GlanceVMIETSU
FG Percentage.423 (22-52) .557 (34-61)
3P FG Percentage.417 (10-24) .400 (8-20)
FT Percentage.955 (21-22) .765 (26-34)
Offensive Rebounds612
Defensive Rebounds1825
Total Rebounds2437
Bench Points2754
PointsJulian Eleby - 21
T.J. CROMER - 21
ReboundsQJ Peterson - 7
Armani Branch - 7
AssistsJulian Eleby - 5
StealsQJ Peterson - 3
BlocksArmani Branch - 2
Bucs open SoCon play Saturday vs. VMI at 2 p.m.
Junior guard Devontavius Payne scored 17 points in the win over Savannah State Thursday night.
Bucs open SoCon play Saturday vs. VMI at 2 p.m.
Friday, December 30, 2016

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 30, 2016) – The road to Asheville, N.C., and the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship starts Saturday for the ETSU men’s basketball team, as the Buccaneers open SoCon play when the VMI Keydets invade Freedom Hall. Tip is set for 2 p.m.

Fans unable to attend this special New Year’s Eve game will be able to watch live video streaming of the contest courtesy of, while the radio call will be available on the Buccaneer Sports Network’s flagship station WXSM-AM 640 and affiliate NASH ICON 104.9 FM. The audio stream of the game broadcast and live stats will also be accessible at

The Bucs and their fans enter league play with a great deal of confidence and anticipation after a successful non-conference stretch of games in the early season. Currently at 10-3 on the year, ETSU is off to the best start to a season since 1990-91 and has collected 10 non-conference wins for the first time since that same year in the early ’90s.

The Bucs, who enter the game ranked No. 11 nationally in the most recent Mid-Major Poll, will be taking on a VMI team that is 3-8 so far this year.

For more on Saturday’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 2016-17 season, visit 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.


Buc bits

In his first season as head coach of the ETSU men’s basketball program in 2015-16, Steve Forbes wasted little time reinvigorating the Buccaneers’ program with an energetic style of play, an engaging approach with the fan base, and plenty of success on the court … In all, the Bucs finished the with 24 wins – which marks the program’s third highest win total in the modern era – and collected 14 victories in Southern Conference play, which is second only to the 15 collected by the Bucs’ 2003-04 squad … ETSU also reached the Southern Conference Tournament finals, which marked the 12th time the program has played in a conference championship game, and the team also earned a postseason tournament berth for the 14th time with an invite to the inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament … Heading into the 2016-17 season, the Bucs will be losing players such as first-team All-SoCon performer Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.), 1,000-point club member Lester Wilson (Knoxville), high-flying dunk specialist Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.), and steady point-guard presence Petey McClain (Mobile, Ala.) … Last year, Guyn averaged 18.3 points per game, while Bello and Wilson combined for another 16 points a contest … However, not all of the production from a year ago is gone, as All-SoCon selection T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) returns after averaging 14.9 points and a team high 3.1 assists per game a year ago … In addition, players such as All-SoCon Tournament selection Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), who averaged 7.6 points and 2.9 rebounds a year ago, and veterans like A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) and Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.) will be back on the court for the Bucs … Post Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) will also return after a season in which he showed marked improvement throughout and finished averaging 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game … Fans will also get to see two new players on the floor this year that sat out as redshirts a year ago … This duo includes transfers Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) from Indiana and Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) from Wichita State … Perea and Glass are both post players who will quickly add depth and talent in the paint … Along with these eight returning players, the Bucs will also be adding five new recruits to the team, a group that includes a couple of Junior College All-Americans and a great deal of offensive firepower … The class is comprised of guards Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.), Jason Williams (Detroit), Jermaine Long (New Orleans) and transfer Kanayo Obi-Rapu (Greensboro, N.C.), along with forward David Burrell (Milwaukee).


The series vs. VMI

The Bucs and Keydets have met 57 times in a series that dates back to 1953, with the Bucs holding a 46-11 advantage all-time ... ETSU dropped VMI in the last meeting between the two schools by a score of 71-60 back on Feb. 4 of this year in Lexington, Va..


Last time out vs. the Keydets

LEXINGTON, Va. (Feb. 4, 2016) – Trailing VMI by 11 points late in the first half, ETSU men’s basketball head coach Steve Forbes pressed the issue. ... Deploying the Buccaneers’ full-court defense, Forbes’ team responded with multiple stops and manufactured a 15-2 offensive run to take a two-point lead at the break, carrying that momentum into the second half and dropping the Keydets 71-60 in Southern Conference action at Cameron Hall. ... Senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) finished with a game-high 20 points for the Bucs, while sophomore guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) netted 14 to lead the Bucs’ offensive attack. In addition, junior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) and senior guard Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.) pitched in 11 and 10 points, respectively, while junior post Isaac Banks (New Orleans, La.) had 11 rebounds and nine points. ... It was definitely an ugly first half for the Bucs, who committed 12 turnovers and trailed for all but .9 seconds of the opening 20 minutes of play. However, after falling behind by 11 points at 26-15 with 5:35 left before the break, Forbes made the defensive change that reversed the fortunes of the game. ... The Bucs ultimately took the lead when Guyn completed a traditional three-point play to make it 30-28 with .9 seconds left on the clock. ... After the break, the Bucs found their outside shooting touch and hit six 3-pointers in the half, which helped the team build a 15-point lead at 65-50 with 4:16 left in the contest.


Last time out

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Dec. 29, 2016) – Playing its final pre-conference tune-up game of the early season, the ETSU men’s basketball team stymied Savannah State’s high-powered offense and got a career high 30 points from senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) on way to a 92-71 win over the Tigers inside Freedom Hall. ... With the win, the Buccaneers improved to 10-3 on the season, marking the first time since the 1990-91 season that an ETSU team has collected 10 non-conference wins. ... Facing a team that entered the game leading the nation in 3-pointers made and averaged 86.2 points per game, the Bucs held the Tigers 15 points below their season average for points. While Savannah State would hit 15 3-pointers on the night, the Bucs nearly matched that number with a season high 14 makes themselves and set a season high with 24 assists on 31 made shots from the floor. ... Along with Cromer, the Bucs also got 17 points from junior guard Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.), while senior post Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and senior guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) netted 13 and 11 points, respectively. Meanwhile, freshman guard Jason Williams (Detroit) also played well, collecting a game high six assist and two steals on the night.


Off and running: Bucs’ start one of the best ever

At 10-3 so far this season, the Bucs are off to their best start since the 1990-91 ETSU team opened the year at 14-1 ... That group -- led by ETSU legend and current Lees-McRae assistant coach Keith “Mister” Jennings   -- went on to go 21-2 through their first 23 games and reached No. 10 in the national rankings ... That team also won a third straight Southern Conference Tournament title and advanced to the NCAAs for the third of four straight trips to March Madness. ... With the win Thursday night against Savannah State, the Bucs became the first team since that same 1990-91 squad to secure 10 non-conference wins in a season.


Bucs currently ranked 11th by

With their 9-3 start, the Bucs are currently ranked 11th in the most recent Mid-Major Poll, which was released last Monday.


Bucs picked second; Cromer, Mos.-Perea earn honors

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Oct. 26, 2016) – The ETSU men’s basketball team was picked to finish a close second behind Chattanooga in both the preseason coaches and media polls released earlier in the year by the Southern Conference. ... ETSU was slotted second (74) and received two first-place votes in the coaches poll, along with four first place votes in the media poll. Head coach Steve Forbes led the Bucs to a 24-12 mark in his first season at ETSU. The Bucs went 14-4 in league play and advanced to the title game of the league tournament. ETSU advanced to the postseason in 2016 and participated in the Vegas 16 tournament. ... In addition, the Buccaneers’ placed senior guard T.J. Cromer (Albany, Ga.) and senior post Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) on the preseason All-SoCon team. Cromer was an all-conference selection a year ago, while Mosquera-Perea is entering his first season at ETSU.

Bucs ranking among nation’s best statistically

Entering November’s Sanford Pentagon Showcase, the Bucs led the nation in field goal percentage, shooting a blistering 58.8 percent from the floor three games into the season ... Currently, ETSU ranks just outside the Top 50 nationally at 47.4 percent ... With a 68.3 percent clip in the game against UDM, ETSU came up just half a percentage shy of the program’s single game record ... A complete list of the Bucs’ current position in the national statistics can be found in the column to the left of this note.


Back-to-back seasons with wins over “Major” opponents

While ETSU has enjoyed its share of wins over “major” opposition in the past, the Bucs’ have now posted back-to-back seasons with wins over teams from “Power 5” Conferences ... The Bucs dropped Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech last season, and followed that victory with a win over Mississippi State earlier this year ... The win over GT  was the firs over an ACC foe since defeating N.C. State back in 1991 ... The MSU win was the first since dropping the same Bulldogs back in 2010.


Bucs continue on 3-point streak list

Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 908 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.  ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.


Banks money so far this season from the field

The Bucs posted high shooting percentages in two of their first three games this season, and much of that is due to the accurate efforts of the team’s inside players ... For instance, entering the VMI game, senior post Isaac Banks (New Orleans) is 29-for-38 from the field this season, ranking first in the country at 74 percent from the field ...  Along with Banks, players like junior forward David Burrell (Milwaukee) is 43-of-73 for a 59 percent clip from the field, while senior post Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) is 45-of-77 for a 58 percent mark.


Depth, bench play coming through in the clutch for Bucs

The depth of the ETSU bench is becoming more apparent with each game this season ... Through the first 13 games of the year, the Bucs’ bench players have outscored their opponents in nine of those contests ... For instance, in the win over South Dakota State Jermaine Long (New Orleans) entered the game to post five rebounds, five points and two asissts in just 11 minutes of game action. ... Other players like Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.), who is averaging 7.8 points per game this year, and David Burrell (Milwaukee), who is averaging 8.5 points and 3.7 rebounds a game, have also provided much-needed production.


ETSU offense thrives on assists, unselfish approach

With a season high 24 assists in the win over Savannah State, the Bucs continued to post strong numbers in that statistical category ... Through 13 games this season, the Bucs have dished out 213 assists on 354 total made baskets ... In other words, 60 percent of the time a made shot by the Bucs is coming off an assist ... Four times this season, the Bucs have eclipsed 20 assists, with those games coming against Fordham, Detroit Mercy, South Dakota State and Savannah State.


Basketball Times’ ranks ETSU JuCo recruiting class #2

In a Basketball Times’ story by Tony Jimenez earlier this year, ETSU head coach Steve Forbes and his staff are were praised for their recruiting efforts at the junior college level. ... In fact, the Bucs’ 2016-17 recruiting class -- which includes JuCo first team All-Americans -- was ranked No. 2 in the nation behind only Southeastern Conference member Arkansas ... In all, the Bucs’ seven-player recruiting class for this year included five junior college additions.


Forbes makes USA Today list of “coaches on the rise”

ETSU head men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes was recently named to USA Today’s list of 10 coaches on the rise heading into the 2016-17 season. Below is an excerpt from the story by Jon Rothstein and a link to the entire list: Which coaches are on the rise in college basketball? Check out our list below as we look at 10 coaches in the sport trending upwards. In no particular order … Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State: Forbes won 24 games in his first season as a head coach in Division I and should be a perennial contender in the SoCon. A tenacious recruiter when he was an assistant at both Tennessee and Wichita State, Forbes knows how to find players. The Bucs currently have three players on their roster — Peter Jurkin (Indiana), Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Indiana), and Tevin Glass (Wichita State) that were all recruited to play at a significantly higher level before Forbes lured them to East Tennessee State.