JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 16, 2010) -- In need of a critical win to snap a two-game losing streak and keep pace in the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season race, the ETSU men's basketball team welcomes league foe Florida Gulf Coast into the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center Saturday for a 4 p.m. showdown.
The Bucs, who are 8-9 overall, 4-2 in A-Sun play, remain just one game out of first place in the loss column, and are hoping to get back on track with a crucial two-game road swing through Nashville waiting next week.
For more on Saturday's game, click on the game notebook above or read the game notes below:
Still in the thick of the Atlantic Sun Conference title hunt, the ETSU men's basketball team returns to action Saturday against Florida Gulf Coast with hopes of ending a recent two game losing streak ... The Bucs dropped the first game of this weekend's homestand 54-52 to Stetson Thursday night ... The Bucs, 8-9 overall, 4-2 in league play, are tied for third in the league standings, but are just one game back in the loss column ... ETSU is currently 5-2 inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center this season, but is just 3-7 on the road this year ... Preseason All Atlantic Sun Conference pick Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) remains doubtful for the FGCU game after having missed the Bucs last eight contests, and is likely headed toward a medical redshirt season ... In Smith's absence, junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and junior guard Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) have stepped up their games … In fact, Hubbard has posted double-doubles in eight of his last 16 games ... When he was picked A-Sun Player of the Week on Nov. ,30, he posted a career best 32-point effort against the Razorbacks and a game-high 25-point effort in the victory over UNF ... Meanwhile, Tubbs posted a career best 29 points against CofC and 21 against Arkansas, to go with nine rebounds ... Currently, Hubbard and Tubbs lead the team in scoring, with Hubbard averaging 14.3 points per game, and Tubbs pitching in 12.9 a contest.
The series against Florida Gulf Coast
The Bucs and Eagles have met just three times, with FGCU just joining the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2007-08 ... ETSU holds a 2-1 edge in the series, having won games in Johnson City and Fort Myers, Fla. ... The two teams split their meetings a year ago, with ETSU winning the last game 102-78 back on Feb. 7.
Last time against Florida Gulf Coast
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 7, 2009) - Well aware that they were facing one of only two teams to beat them in Atlantic Sun Conference play this season, the ETSU Buccaneers produced their best offensive game of the season and rolled to a 102-78 win over Florida Gulf Coast in front of 4,045 fans at Memorial Center ... The win avenged a 64-61 loss to the Eagles earlier this season, and moved the Bucs to 17-6 overall, 11-2 in A-Sun play. With Jacksonville's 72-71 loss to Mercer earlier in the day, ETSU now holds sole possession of first place in the conference standings ... ETSU's "Big Three" - seniors Courtney Pigram (Memphis) and Kevin Tiggs (Memphis), and junior Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) - were certainly on their game in this contest. Smith collected his third straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Tiggs posted a game high 29 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Pigram finished with 27 points, moving his career scoring clip to 1,874 and overtaking former ETSU great Calvin Talford for fourth place on the all-time scoring list ... The first half did not start out in a good way for the Buccanners, as the Eagles used some pinpoint 3-point shooting to shred the ETSU man-to-man defense and build a 23-15 lead with 13 minutes left in the half. However, from there the Bucs changed to a 2-3 zone and clamped down defensively, allowing just one field goal over the next six minutes and kicking up the offense on a 21-4 run that ended with the Bucs holding a 36-27 advantage ... ETSU didn't let up at that point, outscoring FGCU 16-8 the rest of the half to post its best offensive first half of the year and lead 52-35 at the break. In the first 20 minutes, the Bucs shot 57 percent from the field and were 58 percent from 3-point range, while holding the Eagles to just 27 percent shooting. The Bucs outrebounded FGCU 24-18 in the first half. ... The second half was more of the same for the Bucs, as ETSU posted another 50 points in 20 minutes of play and shot 48 percent from the field. Ultimately, the Bucs out-rebounded FGCU 47-38 and forced 17 turnovers by the Eagles.
Last time out
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 14, 2010) - For the third time in five seasons, the ETSU men's basketball team looked on as the Stetson Hatters came into the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center and left with an Atlantic Sun Conference victory ... The Buccaneers relinquished an 11-point halftime lead in front of 4,003 fans at the Mini-Dome, as Stetson went 10-of-25 from 3-point range to manage the 54-52 victory Thursday night. ETSU had a shot at the end to tie the game as Stetson's A.J. Smith missed the front end of a one-and-one, but junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) went coast-to-coast only to have his layup attempt fall short at the buzzer ... ETSU led by eight 27-19 at the break, and though the game was not the up-and-down type that the Bucs would enjoy, they still held a somewhat comfortable lead. ... However, after a Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) 3-pointer found the bottom of the net to open the second half and make it 30-19 in favor of ETSU, Stetson went on a 19-5 run over the next nine minutes to take a 38-35 lead. The Bucs responded to regain the edge at 43-40, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Mark Lohuis and Brandon Williams made it 46-43 with just over six minutes left on the clock. ... ETSU tied the game at 46, but from there was never able to take the lead again. Even so, the Bucs did have a pair of opportunities to tie the game, as freshman guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa) went to the line for a one-and-one with 21 seconds left and the game at 52-50 in favor of the Hatters. He missed the front end, however, and after a pair of makes by Smith that put the score at 54-50, the Bucs final score of the game came on a layup by junior forward Micah Williams (Manchester) with seven seconds left ... Stetson, which improved to 4-11, 2-5, was led by 12 points apiece from Lohuis and Williams, while Smith and Ridge Graham finished with 10 apiece. Meanwhile, the Bucs got a game high 13 from Micah Williams, while Tubbs finished with 12.
New-look zone defense powers win streak
Since developing a new, attacking-style zone defense, the Buccaneers have won three of their last five games ... The stats back up the zone's effectiveness, especially while winning three straight games from Dec. 21 to Jan. 9, as ETSU has held opponents to 35 percent shooting from the floor and just 59.3 points per game ... In addition, the Bucs are also outrebounding opponents by more than seven boards a game in that stretch.
Smith status still in doubt
Though he has played in four games this season and most recently scored a season high 14 points against UAB (12/4), senior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) continues to battle nagging injuries ... This has left his status for the rest of the year in doubt, and in fact, he is likely headed toward a medical redshirt season.
Williams bringing more offense
to the table
Junior guard Micah Williams (Manchester) has worked his way into the starting lineup thanks mainly to back-to-back strong efforts on the offensive end ... Against North Georgia, Williams posted a career high 22 points in leading the Bucs to the win, and he followed that effort with an 18-point night against Murray State ... He has scored in double figures in seven of his last eight games ... Currently, Williams is one of three Bucs averaging double figures scoring this year with 10.8 points per game.
Hubbard steps up game, averaging near double-double
Much has been written and reported about junior forward Tommy Hubbard (Boston) and his efforts to improve his offensive game, and those strides have led to some solid numbers ... Already considered one of the best defenders in the A-Sun, Hubbard posted a 32-point and 10-rebound effort in the win over Arkansas and dropped in another game-high 26 in the win over UNF ... He currently leads the Bucs with 14.3 points per game and 8.5 rebounds a contest ... while he has posted double-doubles in eight of the last 15 games, his efforts began to pay off on the offensive end against Chattanooga back on Nov. 17 ... Setting career bests for points (26) and rebounds (13), Hubbard collected his first career double-double against the Mocs ... In addition, he hit his first 3-point shot in three seasons with the Bucs, and didn't stop there -- ultimately finishing with four long-range bombs on the night.
Record setting night from the arc for Bucs
Hitting on 11-of-14 shots from 3-point range against Arkansas, the Bucs put their name in a multiple of record books ... First, those numbers set a new school record for 3-point field goal percentage in a game with a 78.6 percent mark, breaking the previous record of 66.7 percent which had been done three times previously ... In addition, it was the best shooting effort in the "nation" this season for teams taking more than 10 shots in a game ... And it was the best percentage by a team in the A-Sun since Nov. 28, 1999 when UCF was 11-of-14 in a game against South Carolina state.
Home Sweet Dome
Since the 1996-97 season, the Buccaneers are an amazing 134-41 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 ... In 2008-09, the Bucs were again 11-2 at home ... This season, ETSU is 4-2 in the Dome and 1-0 in Brooks Gym.
Sollazzo to honor Coy with number change
When ETSU's rising sophomore forward Seth Coy (Montgomery, Ind.) was tragically killed in a car accident this summer, it left the entire Buccaneer community with a deep sense of loss ... As is often the case, those that are left to mourn have looked for ways to remember the Bucs' 6-foot-11 "Gentle Giant." ... For sophomore guard Adam Sollazzo (Tampa), who was Coy's roommate, the answer was simple ... Changing his jersey number from No. 20 to Coy's No. 43, Sollazzo will play the 2009-10 season to honor his friend and have that memory with him each night.
Big questions surround Bucs entering 2009-10
With the loss of seniors Courtney Pigram and Kevin Tiggs -- one of the most dynamic offensive duos in the country -- the Bucs have a lot of questions to answer on the offenisve end of the floor this season ... Having averaged 78.1 points a game a year ago, which ranked 21st nationally in all of Division I play -- ETSU has lost 44.0 of those points to graduation when one includes now departed senior Greg Hamlin in that trio ... In addition to the losses on offensive, the Bucs' 13-man roster includes just eight players who have experienced actual floor time in college ... The other five players are either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or walk-ons.