JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 2, 2013) – Freshman guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson, Tenn.) scored a game-high 27 points in his first career start, and the ETSU men’s basketball team used a 30-6 offensive run at the start of the second half to drop Mars Hill 119-83 on Homecoming Saturday in front of 3,208 fans at the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
The Buccaneers scored 70 points in the second half and shot 58 percent from the floor as they wrapped up preseason play with a perfect 2-0 record, while averaging 118.5 points per contest.
“What’s great about A.J. getting 27 points is we didn’t run one set play for him all night – that’s just offense generated by energy and passion,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. “I saw a lot of good things out there and we’re getting better, but we need to work on some things and make some adjustments – especially on defense.”
Indeed, despite their second-straight lop-sided win, the Bucs did allow 83 points for the second game in a row, and the Lions shot a very respectable 47 percent from the floor on the night. ETSU has now played man-to-man for the entirety of its two exhibition games.
“We have played 80 straight minutes of nothing but man, an extended and pressure-oriented man-to-man,” Bartow said. “I think we may pull back and not pressure quite as much, and we will definitely try other options as we start the regular season.”
The Lions gave the Bucs quite a challenge throughout the first half and actually led by as many as nine at 19-10 with 13:01 left before the intermission. However, from that point the Bucs went on a 24-4 run to regain the lead and never relinquished the advantage the rest of the game.
Along with Merriweather’s game-high 27 points and seven rebounds, the Bucs also got double digit scoring from sophomore guard Lester Wilson (Knoxville) with 17 points and senior post Hunter Harris (Nashville) with 12, while senior forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Georgetown, S.C.) and freshman guard Devin Harris (Tampa, Fla.) added 10 each.
ETSU forced Mars Hill into 36 turnovers and grabbed 20 steals on the night, while out-rebounding the Lions 42-33. The Bucs also outscored Mars Hill 46-11 on points off turnovers, while holding a 62-32 advantage on points in the paint.
For the Lions, Devonte Williams scored a team-high 15 points, while Carter Wright added 14.
The Buccaneers will return to action in their regular season opener on Friday night, Nov. 8 at Charlotte, with tip for that game set at 7:30 p.m. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2013-14 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.