JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 28, 2009) -- On a day when the ETSU men's basketball team will honor its three senior players, the Buccaneers hope to build momentum heading into next week's Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in Nashville as they take on Mercer inside the Memorial Center. Tip is set for Saturday at 4 p.m.
With a win over the Bears (17-13, 11-8), the Bucs (19-10, 13-6) would clinch the No. 2 seed in the A-Sun Tournament, which comes with an important day off on Thursday -- if the Bucs can win their first round game on Wednesday. A loss would seed ETSU third, meaning the team would have to win three games on three straight days to earn a trip to the NCAAs.
Seniors Courtney Pigram (Memphis), Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and Greg Hamlin (Flint, Mich.) will be honored before the start of Saturday's game as part of the Senior Day activities. For more on the game, click on the game notebook link above or read the game notes below:
The series against Mercer
This will be the eighth meeting between the Bucs and the Bears, with ETSU holding a perfect 7-0 mark against their A-Sun foe ... The two teams first met in 2005-06, the Bucs first season in the Atlantic Sun ... In their last meeting on Dec. 5, 2008, the Bucs raced to an 81-61 win inside Mercer's University Center.
Last time against Mercer
MACON, Ga. (Dec. 5, 2008) - Despite facing a team that had picked up impressive non-conference wins over Southeastern Conference members Alabama and Auburn earlier this season, the ETSU men's basketball team made a statement in its Atlantic Sun Conference opener ... Powered by a game-high 21 points from senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and another 20 from junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), the Buccaneers dropped the Mercer Bears 81-61 Friday evening at the University Center. With the win, ETSU improves to 5-3 overall, 1-0 in A-Sun play, while Mercer dropped to 6-3, 1-1 ... The Bucs came out strong in the first half for the second straight game, building an early seven point lead when a Courtney Pigram (Memphis) layup found the bottom of the net and made it 18-11 with 11:36 remaining in the half. The ETSU lead would grow to as many as nine points at 32-23 with 3:34 left, and it would remain nine thanks to a defensive stop by the Bucs with just five seconds left in the half. A subsequent tip-in score by Smith made it 37-28 as time expired ... ETSU's defensive effort was the key in the first 20 minutes, making several stops and holding Mercer to a low shooting percentage. Tiggs scored 12 points to lead the Bucs in the first half, while Smith added nine to the cause ... The second half - which included the ejection of Mercer head coach Bob Hoffmann with 12:42 left in the game for receiving his second technical foul of the contest - saw the Bucs continue to build the lead early, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Tiggs and Smith made it 56-36 with 13:16 left in the game. ETSU would lead by as many as 22 in the second half and ultimately won by 20 ... Along with Tiggs and Smith, sophomore guard Micah Williams (Manchester) scored a season high 13 points, while Pigram added 12 to the cause ... For Mercer, Daniel Emerson scored a team-high 20 points, while guard James Florence added 15 and Calvin Henry netted 10.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 26, 2009) - In need of a confidence boost and looking to get his ETSU men's basketball team back on the winning track, senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) responded to the fans' pregame chants of "Let's go, CP!" by scoring a game-high 16 points and dishing out seven assists in the Buccaneers 81-46 win over Kennesaw State Thursday night inside Memorial Center ... The crowd of 3,149 was treated to one of the Bucs' best performances of the season, as they shot 49 percent from the floor and held the Owls to just 26 percent shooting. ETSU improved to 19-10 overall, 13-6 in A-Sun play, while Kennesaw State fell to 7-21, 3-16 ... After several tough games shooting the basketball, Pigram looked more relaxed on a night when the ETSU fans began chanting his name even before the tip. The senior led all scorers with 10 point in the first half, going 4-of-10 from the field in the first 20 minutes and helping stake the Bucs to a 34-25 halftime lead ...
The Bucs defensive effort was also stellar in the first half as ETSU's fullcourt press attack was initiated from the outset and held the Owls to just 29 percent shooting the first half. Meanwhile, the Bucs hit on 47 percent from the field and outrebounded Kennesaw State 20-14 ... In the second half, the Bucs only turned up the heat and outscored the Owls 47-21 to leave no doubt about the game's ultimate outcome. For the game, the Bucs outrebounded KSU 47-31 and forced 21 turnovers on 12 steals ... Along with Pigram's 16, ETSU got 13 points from freshman guard Jarvis Jones (Memphis), while freshman Adam Sollazzo (Tampa) and senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) pitched in 11 apiece ... For Kennesaw State, only one player reached double figures with Kurtis Woods scored 12 to lead the Owls.
Fans' e-mails, early chants bring CP around
After 27 straight starts this season, senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) was taken out of the starting lineup in the Bucs' game against Campbell back on Feb. 23 following a string of tough performances ... However, instead of returning home to boos from the fans in Johnson City, the senior guard received over 30 e-mails of encouragement during the week and was greeted by signs of support and chants of his name prior to the game with Kennesaw State on Feb. 26 ... Pigram responded by returning to his old form, scoring 16 points, dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds in the win over the Owls ... After the game, Pigram expressed his appreciation of the fans' gestures, "I want to thank the fans for staying with me and standing behind us as a team," Pigram said. "I got a lot of e-mails this week from the fans and having the signs all over the Dome really meant a lot to me. Hitting that first shot relieved a lot of stress. Now I'm just ready to play like I can and keep it rolling."
February troubles continue four-year trend for Bucs
Over the last four season since joining the Atlantic Sun Conference, the ETSU men's basketball team has either been tied or held sole possession of first place at some point in the month of February ... However, that's when the story turns bleak ... With the exception of the 2007-08 season, when the Bucs went 6-1 in February and ultimately won the league regular season title, the Bucs are are combined 13-11 in league play during the month of February and have relinquished first-place in three of those four seasons ... In fact, a year ago the Bucs dropped from first place on Feb. 8 to a fourth seed by the end of the season. Below is a complete breakdown:
Season February Record
2008-09 4-4 (currently)
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 ... Tiggs leads the team and the Atlantic Sun Conference, and ranks 15th nationally with a 21.6 points per game average (as of Feb. 22), while Pigram ranks fifth in the A-Sun with 16.9 points a game (as of Feb. 26) ... Pigram is one of just four active players nationally with more than 1,500 points, 350 assists and 200 steals in their careers.
Player, School......................................................Asts Stls Pts
Courtney Pigram, ETSU 395 224 1934
Both Smith, Tiggs eclipse 1,000 points; Bucs have
three 1,000-point scoreres on the same team?
With a put back at the 2:08 mark of the first half at Lipscomb on Feb. 16, ETSU senior forward Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career ... Meanwhile, Tiggs' teammate -- junior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) -- reached that same pinnacle with a free throw at the 2:06 mark of the second half against USC Upstate on Feb. 19 ... Tiggs now stands at 1,073 points for his career, and Smith is at 1,035 ... While it is not rare to have multiple players on the same team that "eventually" become 1,000-point scorers, having multiple players on the same team that have already eclipsed 1,000-points is rare ... And now, the Bucs have Smith, Tiggs and senior guard Courntey Pigram (Memphis) that have reached that milestone ... The only two times in ETSU history that the Bucs have had three or more 1,000 point scorers on the floor at the same time was in 1990-91 and 2003-04 ... In 1990-91, four 1,000-point scorers were on the floor together at the same time, Keith "Mister" Jennings, Calvin Talford, Major Geer and Alvin West were on the floor together ... The other season this occurred was in 2003-04, when Jerald Fields, Zakee Wadood and Tim Smith all reached 1,000 points.
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 ESPN.com ... 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.
"Big Three" making their mark in A-Sun this year
Watching the ETSU men's basketball team this season has shown that there is power in the number three ... With seniors Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) and Courtney Pigram (Memphis), along with junior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.), the Bucs put three of the best players in league play on the floor at the same time. Currently, Tiggs and Pigram and No. 1 and No. 5 in the league in scoring, while Smith ranks No. 9 on that list ... Meanwhile, at least one of the three rank in the Top 10 of at least seven other major statistical categories, such as field goal percentage, rebounding, 3-point field goal percentage, steals, assists, assist/turnover ratio, defensive rebounds and minutes played.
Pigram moves to No. 4 on the all-time scoring list
With his 27-point effort against Florida Gulf Coast (Feb. 7), ETSU senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) moved to No. 4 on the all-time scoring list ... Pigram now stands at 1,914 points passed former ETSU great Calvin Talford (1988-1992), who collected 1,872 points in his career ... Here are the Top 5 scorers in ETSU history:
1. Tim Smith (2002-2006) 2,300 points
2. Greg Dennis (1987-1992) 2,204 points
3. Keith "Mister" Jennings (1987-1991) 1,988 points
4. Courtney Pigram (2005-2009) 1,934 points *
5. Calvin Talford (1988-92) 1,872 points
* at present time
Home Sweet Dome
Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 129-40 inside Memorial Center, good for a winning percentage of 77 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 10-2 at home.