Bucs, Hatters to square off in Atlantic Sun action Thursday night
Freshman Sheldon Cooley is coming off a 29-point effort against Mercer.
Freshman Sheldon Cooley is coming off a 29-point effort against Mercer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 14, 2010) -- The ETSU men's basketball team will be trying to get back on track in Atlantic Sun Conference action when the Buccaneers take on the Stetson Hatters Thursday evening at 7 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.

The Bucs, who are 8-8 overall, 4-1 in A-Sun play, are coming off a tough road loss 83-78 last weekend at Mercer. However, ETSU remains tied for first place in the loss column of the league standings.

Despite Stetson's struggles this year, the Derek Waugh-led Hatters (3-11, 1-5) have given ETSU trouble in the past, even though the Bucs lead the all-time series 8-4.

For more on Thursday's game, click on the game notebook link above or read the game notes below.

Buc bits

The ETSU men's basketball team will look to get back on track in Atlantic Sun Conference play when the Buccaneers host Stetson Thursday night ... The Bucs suffered their first loss in league action during a two-game road swing through Georgia, falling 83-78 to Mercer ... The Bucs, 8-8 overall, 4-1 in league play, remain tied for first place in the league in the loss column ... ETSU is currently 5-1 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  Stetson game after having missed the Bucs last seven 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 15 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 14.9 points per game, and Tubbs pitching in 12.9 a contest.

 

The series against Stetson

The Hatters are one of the teams to have given the Bucs trouble since ETSU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2005-06 ... All-time the Bucs lead the series 8-4, including a win in the teams' last meeting on March 4, 2009, which was an 88-76 win for ETSU in the quarterfinals of the A-Sun Tournament.

 

Last time against Stetson

NASHVILLE (March 4, 2009) - The seventh-seeded Stetson Hatters gave the ETSU men's basketball team a scare, but senior Kevin Tiggs (Flint, Mich.) scored a career-high 37 points and junior guard Mike Smith (Vandalia, Mo.) posted his ninth career double-double to give the Buccaneers a 88-76 win in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship quarterfinals Wednesday night inside Allen Arena on the campus of Lipscomb University. ... The first half was dominated by Tiggs, as the first team All A-Sun pick went off for 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor. His efforts were enough to stake the Bucs to a 37-33 halftime lead, but the advantage could have been more if not for Stetson's strong shooting from beyond the arc. The Hatters hit 6-of-13 long range bombs and were 5-of-6 from the foul line to keep the Bucs within reach at the break.

... In the second half, ETSU's fullcourt press finally began to take a toll on the Hatters, as the Bucs opened on a 19-7 run in the first six minutes and built its lead to 56-40 with just over 14 minutes left in regulation. However, Stetson responded with an 8-0 burst of its own to get the game back to single digits at 56-48 with 11 minutes remaining ... Stetson later made the game 64-59 on an A.J. Smith 3-pointer from the wing with 7:20 left, but that would be as close as the Hatters would get the rest of the game as ETSU outscored them 26-17 the rest of the way ... While Tiggs scored 37, Smith posted 19 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Courtney Pigram (Memphis) added 15. Pigram's 15 moved with to 1,987 points for his career, which moved him to No. 2 on the A-Sun's all-time scoring list and just one point shy of former ETSU great Keith "Mister" Jennings for third place on the Bucs scoring list.

 

Last time out

MACON, Ga. (Jan. 9, 2010) - All good things must come to an end, and Saturday afternoon against Mercer, the ETSU men's basketball team watched as its perfect 8-0 all-time record against the Bears finally suffered a blemish ... Without the services of sophomore forward Isiah Brown (Miami), who missed the game with an ankle injury, the Buccaneers trailed 73-53 with 4:42 left in the game. However, ETSU made a spirited comeback over the final minutes only to fall short 83-78 during Atlantic Sun Conference action inside the University Center ... The Bucs shot just 38 percent from the floor for the game, while allowing Mercer a 49 percent clip. Mercer also shot 43 percent from 3-point range, which was critical as the Bears built their lead throughout the second half ... For ETSU, a major bright spot in the game was freshman guard Sheldon Cooley (Tampa, Fla.), who finished with a game-high 29 points and three steals. Meanwhile, junior guards Micah Williams (Manchester) and Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) finished with 18 and 12 points, respectively ... The first half started poorly for the Bucs, who watched as Mercer pulled out to an 11-1 lead with 14:57 left before the intermission. However, ETSU finally found its offensive game and put together a 17-5 run over the next four minutes to take the lead 18-16 at the 9:10 mark ... Mercer responded by going on a 12-6 run of its own to take a 28-22 advantage with 5:52 left, and  ultimately led 35-28 at the break. In the first half, the Bucs managed just one assist and shot 34 percent from the floor ... The Bears opened the second half on a 12-4 run to make it 47-32 by the first media timeout with 15:50 remaining in the game. That lead grew to as many as 20 with 4:42 left, but at that point the Bucs used a pair of offensive runs to get within four points on a couple of occasions. However, they were never able to get within one possession.

 

New-look zone defense powers win streak

Since developing a new, attacking-style zone defense, the Buccaneers have won three of their last four 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 six of his last seven games ... Currently, Williams is one of three Bucs averaging double figures scoring this year with 10.6 points per game.

 

Hubbard steps up his game, averaging

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 14.9 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 4-1 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.

 

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