February 25, 20181st2ndFinal
Stats at a GlanceFURETSU
FG Percentage.453 (24-53) .509 (29-57)
3P FG Percentage.500 (10-20) .333 (6-18)
FT Percentage.750 (21-28) .632 (12-19)
Offensive Rebounds75
Defensive Rebounds2626
Total Rebounds3331
Bench Points3025
PointsDevin Sibley - 17
Desonta Bradford - 19
ReboundsDevin Sibley - 6
Matt Rafferty - 6
David Burrell - 6
AssistsDaniel Fowler - 5
Bo Hodges - 4
StealsMatt Rafferty - 3
Jermaine Long - 3
BlocksDaniel Fowler - 1
Geoff Beans - 1
Devontavius Payne - 3
SoCon title up for grabs Sunday as Bucs face Furman
The Bucs will be looking for back-to-back SoCon titles on Sunday.
SoCon title up for grabs Sunday as Bucs face Furman
Saturday, February 24, 2018

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 24, 2018) – For the ETSU men’s basketball team, it comes down to this game.

A Southern Conference regular season championship will be on the line Sunday afternoon when the Furman Paladins invade Freedom Hall at 2 p.m. Currently tied for first place in the SoCon standings, the Buccaneers – who are 23-7 overall, 14-3 in the SoCon – must win to insure at least a share of the league title with rival UNC Greensboro. Seeding in next weekend’s SoCon Tournament will also be determined following Sunday’s league action.

It will be Senior Day for the Bucs, who will honor eight student-athletes and three student managers that will be participating in their final regular season home game at Freedom Hall.

The contest will air live via video stream courtesy of the ESPN app, while the Buccaneer Sports Network will also have the live broadcast of the game on its radio affiliates and through the live link at ETSUBucs.com. In addition, live stats will also be available by clicking the link to the right of this story.

The first-place Bucs, who have won 21 of their last 25 games, have struggled recently and just suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season. Despite all this, ETSU can still claim its second straight regular season title with a win, which would mark the first time since 2002-03 and 2003-04 that the Bucs have won back-to-back regular season titles.

Currently ranked 5th in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll, the Bucs received five votes in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll before having their nation-best, 16-game winning streak snapped two weeks ago at UNCG.

For more on Sunday’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 2017-18 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.


Buc bits

When Steve Forbes was hired as the men’s basketball coach at ETSU on March 31, 2015, he promised that the Buccaneers would have a program of “first, best and most.” ... Less than two years later, Forbes made good on that guarantee as he guided the 2016-17 ETSU men’s basketball team to a 27-win season, both a Southern Conference regular season and tournament title, and a 10th trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament  ...  Overall, the Bucs combined to win more games than any other program in the SoCon over the last two years (51) and have made back-to-back appearances in the league’s tournament championship game ... Entering the 2017-18 season, the momentum and excitement around the program are high, but there will be challenges. ... Graduating four of its starting five players from a year ago, the Bucs lost 62 percent of its offensive production from a year ago, along with its two best interior post defender.


The series vs. Furman

The Bucs and Paladins have a long history dating back to 1962, with most of the games being played during ETSU’s previous tenure in the Southern Conference ... In all, the Bucs lead the Paladins 29-26 in the all-time series ... The Bucs won the last meeting 72-71 back on Jan. 18 of this year.


Last time out vs. Furman

GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 18, 2018) – It wasn’t easy, but the ETSU men’s basketball team finally shook off the Furman funk. ... Senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) hit a floater in the lane with 4.5 seconds left as the Buccaneers held off the Paladins’ second-half rally to take a 62-61 Southern Conference road win Thursday evening inside Timmons Arena. With the victory, the Bucs improved to 15-4 overall and 6-0 in SoCon play, while also picking up their first win on Furman’s home floor since returning to the Southern Conference in 2014-15. ... Bradford, who had struggled in the contest and was 3-of-9 from the field before hitting the game-winner, was still the clear choice for ETSU head coach Steve Forbes and his coaching staff, as the Bucs drew up a final play with 20 seconds left in regulation. ... The Bucs had led by as many as 12 points in the second half and were up 11 at 51-40 with 12:23 left in the game before Furman – who dropped to 13-6, 4-2 – went on a 17-5 run to take the lead 57-56 with just under five minutes left. From there, the teams traded the lead five more times before Bradford’s game winner. ... Bradford and fellow senior guard Jalan McCloud (Fort Worth, Texas) led the Bucs with 12 points each, while senior forward David Burrell (Milwaukee) finished with 11. For the Paladins, Matt Rafferty had 13 points and 2017 SoCon Player of the Year Devin Sibley had 11 before leaving the game with a hand injury midway through the second half.


Last time out

For the second game in a row, the defensive efficiency that defined the ETSU men’s basketball team for most of the season abandoned the Buccaneers. ... This time, it was the Wofford Terriers that came into Freedom Hall and shot 56 percent from the field, had four players post double-figure scoring, and ultimately took home a 75-71 win Friday night in Southern Conference play. With the loss, the Bucs dropped to 23-7 overall and 14-3 in the SoCon, backing into a first-place tie with UNC Greensboro and having to win Sunday’s regular season finale with Furman to capture at least a share of the league championship. ... Meanwhile, Wofford improved to 20-10 overall, 11-6 in league play. ... The Bucs certainly had a good opportunity at the end. ... Trailing 73-71 with 20 seconds left, ETSU raced to the offensive end following a free throw miss by the Terriers. Senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) drove to the basket and found fellow senior David Burrell (Milwaukee) under the goal, but Burrell’s layup attempt missed the mark with 10 seconds left. Wofford rebounded the ball and secured the win with another pair of makes at the charity stripe. ... For Wofford, forward Cameron Jackson – who did not play in the Bucs’ win earlier this season in Spartanburg, S.C. while recovering from a concussion – led the way with a team high 19 points, while Fletcher Magee had 17, Nathan Hoover collected 13 and Storm Murphy netted 12. ... Meanwhile, the Bucs got a game high 19 from Bradford, while freshman guard Bo Hodges (Nashville) had 16 and senior post Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) pitched in 11. The Bucs shot 48 percent from the floor on the night and 82 percent at the foul line in the loss, dishing out 15 assists on 21 made baskets. ... In the first half, both teams traded baskets and the lead multiple times, with the game tied at 36 by the intermission. After the break, Wofford took a quick lead but never could pull away. In fact, no team led by more than five points throughout the game.


Eight seniors to be honored on Sunday

The Bucs will recognize eight senior student-athletes and three senior managers prior to Sunday’s game against Furman ... Senior players Desonta Bradford (Humboldt), Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan), Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Ill.), Jermaine Long (New Orleans), David Burrell (Milwaukee), Jalan McCloud (Fort Worth, Texas), Karl Overstreet (Lynchburg, Va.) and Dillon Reppart (Johnson City) will play their final regular season home game at Freedom Hall. In addition, senior managers  Hayden Fritz, Brian Harding and Chris Forbes will also be honored before the game. 


Bucs have nation’s longest active win streak snapped

With a win over VMI on Saturday, Feb. 10 and St. Mary’s loss to Gonzaga, the Bucs had the nation’s longest win streak at 16 games ... However, with their loss to UNCG on Monday, Feb. 12, the Bucs watched their streak of success come to an end.


Win streak best in Forbes’ era, ties program mark

The ETSU basketball team has enjoyed plenty of wins over three seasons under head coach Steve Forbes’ direction ... But with its 16th win in a row on Saturday, Feb. 10 vs. VMI, the Bucs had the longest streak of success in those three seasons ... Forbes and the Bucs had also won seven straight in 2015-16 ... The Bucs’ 16th win tied them with the 2003-04 squad, which also posted a 16-win streak.


11 road wins matches program record

The Bucs 11 true road wins this year matches the program record set by the 2003-04 ETSU squad ... Second place on that list includes the 1990-91 and 1991-92 Bucs who both won 10 road games during those seasons.


Bradford named SoCon Player of the Month

Following a month when the ETSU men’s basketball team posted a perfect 9-0 record in Southern Conference play, Buccaneers’ senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) has been named the league’s January Player of the Month. ...      The SoCon office announced Bradford’s honor on Monday, officially recognizing him for a month in which he averaged 15.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Those efforts helped the Bucs extend their win streak, which currently stands at 15 games. Bradford shot nearly 52 percent from the floor in January, going 46-for-89, and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.1 with 37 assists and just 18 turnovers. ...     Bradford scored at least 12 points in each contest, including a season-high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the Bucs’ 73-71 win at The Citadel to end the month. He had 12 points and nine rebounds in a win over UNCG on Jan. 11 and had 17 points in a win over Wofford on Jan. 27.

Bucs among best in NCAA

A complete listing of where the Bucs currently stand in the NCAA national rankings can be found to the left of this note.


Forbes winning percentage among the nation’s best

In his three seasons at ETSU, head coach Steve Forbes has a winning percentage of .732 (74-27), which ranks 13th nationally among active coaches with at least three years of NCAA Division I experience ... While names such as Mark Few (Gonzaga), Roy Williams (North Carolina), John Calipari (Kentucky) and Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) are ahead of Forbes on the list, ETSU’s head coach does rank ahead of coaches Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), Bruce Pearl (Auburn), Jamie Dixon (TCU), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Archie Miller (Indiana), Jay Wright (Villanova) and Steve Alford (UCLA).


Bradford more than just a scorer for the Bucs

While his game-winning score at Furman on Jan. 20th was a great play, senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) has been making winning plays for the Bucs throughout the season ... He currently ranks as one of -- if not the best -- all-around players in the SoCon ... As of today’s game, Bradford is the only SoCon player in the league to display the following versatility, ranking in the Top 10 of multiple statistical categories per game, including points (15.4), field goal percentage (.478), rebounds (5.8), assists (3.5), steals (1.9),  assist/TO ratio (1.6), defensive rebounds (5.1) and minutes played (32.4).


Bucs now No. 5 in CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll

After just cracking into the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll six weeks ago at No. 16, the Bucs 16 straight wins allowed ETSU to move up to the No. 4 spot in the poll on Feb. 12. ... This week, the Bucs dropped back to No. 5 ... This comes on the heels of the Bucs earning the No. 8 spot in the NBC Sports Mid-Major Power Rankings three weeks ago, while also being ranked No. 36 in Andy Katz’s weekly power ranking of all Division I programs.


Bradford reaches milestone with 1,000th point

With a layup late in the second half of the Bucs’ win over VMI (1/13), senior guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt) reached 1,000 points for his career ... He became  the 41st player in school history to eclipse that mark and has continued to move up the list. His position on the all-time scoring list is below:

No. 19................................... Winfred Reid (1979-82), 1,224 points

No. 20................................. Charlie Stuart (1974-77), 1,217 points

No. 21 ..................................... T.J. Cromer (2015-17), 1,206 points

No. 22..................................... Kevin Tiggs (2007-09), 1,197 points

No. 23 ......................... Desonta Bradford (2014-18), 1,195 points


Hodges goes on “Bo”-nanza in 113 seconds

In a less than two-minute span against Hiwassee College, freshman Bo Hodges (Nashville) put on a show ... The two-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee collected 11 points, four dunks, two layups, two steals and a free throw in a total of 113 seconds during the first half of the Bucs’ win. ... Those numbers propelled Hodges to a game high 18 points on the night.


Forbes’ Formula: ETSU’s own version of “one-and-done”

While Power 5 programs such as Kentucky and Duke have defined the term “one-and-done” to describe freshmen that play a single season before moving on to the NBA, ETSU has created its own version of “one-and-done” which  relies on fifth-year graduate players and other transfers to help give ETSU a jolt of competitive talent. ... In 2015-16, Cincinnati transfer Ge’Lawn Guyn (Lexington, Ky.) was one of these players for the Bucs, while last year Indiana transfer Hanner Mosquera-Perea (Istmina, Colombia) and Wichita State transfer Tevin Glass (Norcross, Ga.) provided ETSU with a single-season boost of talent during the 2016-17 campaign. ... This year, guard Jalan McCloud (Forth Worth, Texas) is carrying on the tradition after transfering from Texas Southern.


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 959 consecutive games. ... ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game.  ... The Bucs currently rank as the 7th longest streak in the NCAA.


Freaky Friday

Despite winning 23 games this year, Friday’s have not been kind to the Bucs, who are now 1-3 on that day of the week this year. ... Lucky for ETSU, their possible three games at the SoCon Tournament will be Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and the Bucs are a combined 13-2 on those day sof the week this year.


ETSU among nation’s best in attendance growth

The ETSU men’s basketball team continues to reap good news from its historic 2016-17 season, learning earlier this year that the program posted the nation’s 15th best increase for average attendance from the previous year. ... The Bucs, who averaged 3,065 fans a game in 2015-16, watched as that number ballooned to 4,053 fans per game during 2016-17. ETSU ultimately led the Southern Conference in average attendance per game – selling out three games during the season versus Tennessee, Chattanooga and Furman.


Jurkin earns SoCon player of the week honor

ETSU’s senior center Peter Jurkin (Juba, South Sudan) was named the Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for all contests from Jan. 2-8. ... The award is selected by the league office. ... Jurkin, who averaged 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in just 20.5 minutes per game last week.


Success against Power 5 opponents

The Bucs have enjoyed their share of wins in early season games against Power 5 Conference foes over the last decade ... Since the 2008-09 season, ETSU has collected victories over Arkansas in 2009 (94-85), Georgia Tech in 2015 (69-68), and Mississippi State in both 2010 (63-62) and 2016 (67-65). ... Prior to the 2008-09 season, the Bucs have a long tradition of upsetting Power 5 teams, including a win over No. 3 seeded Arizona in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament, along with wins over Tennessee (1989 and 1991), N.C. State (1989, 1990 and 1992) and Virginia Tech (1998).


Three game road swings a challenge for Bucs

The Bucs opened the season with a three game road swing, and it won’t be the last time ETSU faces that challenge this year. ... In fact, after going 3-0 during this first stretch of SoCon games, the Bucs will also face another three game swing away from Freedom Hall at the end of the year from Feb. 10 to Feb. 17.


2016-17 ETSU squad among the best ever at ETSU

Along with making program history thanks to a 10th trip all-time to the NCAAs and another conference title, last year’s ETSU team also ranked among the best teams ever in multiple single season statistical categories. They included:

Wins................................................................. T-2nd, 27

Free throws made.............................................. 2nd, 597

Blocked shots.................................................... 2nd, 162

Points............................................................... 4th, 2782

Assists............................................................... 4th, 516

Scoring margin................................................ T-4th, +9.8

Field goals made................................................. 4th, 960

Field goal percentage......................................... 6th, .488

3-pt. FG made.................................................... 6th, 265

Rebounding margin............................................ 6th, +4.2

3-pt. FG percentage........................................ T-4th, .382

Winning Percentage........................................... 8th, .771


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

ETSU head men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes was 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.


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 posted back-to-back seasons with wins over teams from “Power 5” Conferences ... The Bucs dropped Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech in 2015-16, and followed that victory with a win over Mississippi State in 2016-17 ... The win over GT was the first over an ACC foe since defeating N.C. State back in 1991 ... The MSU win was the first over an SEC foe since dropping the same Bulldogs back in 2010.


Hodges stepping up as freshman contributor

Freshman guard Bo Hodges (Nashville) has consistently improved throughout the season, and in the Bucs’ last two games he has become an efficient performer on both ends of the floor ... Against Fordham (11/29), Hodges finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, and followed that effort with 14 points and three blocks in the win over Northern Kentucky (12/6) ... Hodges has also moved to 2nd in the SoCon in field goal percentage, connecting on 61 percent of his shots so far this season.