Bucs get back on track with win over Western Carolina

Bo Hodges vs WCU

After having their 16 game winning streak and undefeated Socon record broken by UNCG on Monday the Bucs were in need of a back bounce win. They got that win with a convincing eleven point victory over Western Carolina. The game was never really in question for ETSU who built an 18 point first half lead and later extended that lead to 23 points in the 2nd half.

ETSU got a big boost from Devontavius Payne who scored a game high of 22 points off of 6-7 shooting from the 3-point line. Payne who has been the 6th man for ETSU most of the year got the start over Jalan McCloud who had been feeling ill before the game. ETSU also got a big boost from the two freshmen, Bo Hodges and Mladen Armus. Hodges scored 17 points in 17 minutes, making 6 of 7 from the field, including a nice alley-opp dunk in the 2nd half. Meanwhile, Mladen Armus was dominating the boards by grabbing a game high 10 rebounds, including 6 offensive ones.

As a team ETSU held Western Carolina to just 38% shooting, while ETSU shot 47% from the field and 45% from the 3-point line. The Bucs dominated the boards by grabbing 44 compared to just 24 from WCU. The Bucs also got back to sharing the ball with 16 assists, something they failed to do against UNCG. The only real weak spot from the Bucs in this game was turnovers. The Bucs committed 22 turnovers for the game which is partly why the final margin wasn’t larger than 11 points.

ETSU is now finished with road games for the rest of the season, the final three regular season games will be in the friendly confines of Freedom Hall. The Bucs finish the conference road schedule by going 8-1 and have won 11 total road games for the year. That number is tied for the most in all of college basketball.

Dominance over Western Carolina

The Bucs have now won 23 of the last 24 games against Western Carolina. ETSU also hasn’t lost a regular season game against WCU since 1998. The last loss came in a Socon tournament quarterfinal game in 2015, which happened to be former coach Murry Bartow’s last game with ETSU.

Help from UNCG

With the win Saturday the Bucs continued to have a hold on first place in the Socon and thanks to a loss from UNCG at Mercer the Bucs now have a 2.5 game lead over UNCG. A win on Tuesday versus The Citadel and the Bucs can atleast clinch a share of the regular season title. However, if the Bucs want to clinch a #1 seed in the Socon Tournament they will need to win at least 2 of those 3 games since UNCG currently has the tiebreaker over ETSU.

Final 3 games

ETSU will close out the regular season this week with games against The Citadel on Tuesday, Wofford on Friday and Furman on Sunday. All three games will be at Freedom Hall. The Bucs will be looking to clinch the regular season title during this stretch, so come out and Fill Freedom for each game!

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Desonta Bradford named Socon Player of the Month

Desonta Bradford - Player of the Month

Desonta Bradford had a big January, he was named Socon player of the week last week, became a 1,000 point scorer and led his team to a 9-0 record in the month of January. So it was no surprise to learn that Bradford was named the Socon player of the month.

In the month of January Bradford has averaged 15.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He shot 52% from the field and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.1. Additionally, Desonta scored a career high of 23 points versus the Citadel on the 29th, although he quickly eclipsed that high the next game versus Samford when he scored 31 points.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the month for Bradford came when the Bucs traveled to Greenville, SC on January 28th to face a tough Furman team. Desonta scored 12 points in the contest, however he hit the biggest shot of his career when he drained a floated with 4.5 seconds to propel ETSU to a win over Furman.

Others nominated for the award included: Zane Najdawi (The Citadel), Stephon Jelks (Mercer), Francis Alonso (UNCG), Justin Coleman (Samford), Nat Dixon (Chattanooga), Mike Amius (Western Carolina) and Fletcher Magee (Wofford).

Bradford will look to continue his strong play in the Socon as ETSU travels to VMI on Saturday, followed by a huge game at UNCG on Monday.

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ETSU defeats Chattanooga in front of a sellout crowd

Peter Jurkin

Today the red hot ETSU basketball team faced an improved Chattanooga team who knocked off 2nd place UNCG earlier in the week with hopes of doing the same to ETSU. The Bucs did not disappoint the sell out crowd at Freedom Hall as they rolled to an easy 81-61 victory over rival Chattanooga. The win is the 15th in a row for the Bucs which is tied for the 2nd longest in school history, set by the 1952-53 Bucs.

Early in the first half it looked as if this would be a close game tied at 18 with about 10 minutes left in the half. From there the Bucs went on a 14-2 run to lead by 12 with two minutes in the half. The Bucs continued to run away with it in the 2nd half as Chattanooga didn’t get any closer than 11 points the rest of the game. ETSU has now won 4 straight games against rival Chattanooga with three of those four wins being by double digits.

ETSU was led in scoring once again by Desonta Bradford who scored 22 points. Peter Jurkin also had big game for the Bucs, brining in a double double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. ETSU continued to dominate on the defensive end, the Bucs held the Mocs to 39 percent shooting and 26 percent (5-of-19) from 3-point range. ETSU had a 39-25 rebounding advantage and 44-32 on points in the paint. The Bucs also shot well for the 2nd straight game going 57% for the game and 56% from the 3-point line.

ETSU is now 12-0 in the Socon and 21-4 overall. The Bucs get a much needed break and will not play again until Saturday, Feb. 10th on the road at VMI.

Jam City

The Bucs were showing Chattanooga and the rest of the Socon why they are often called “Jam City” by the Buc faithful. ETSU put on a bit of a dunk show with three amazing dunks from David Burrell, Peter Jurkin and Desonta Bradford. Below are all three dunks.

Legendary Bucs

In attendance at todays game against Chattanooga were the legendary Bucs from the 1967-1968 season who made the Sweet 16 after defeating Florida State in the 1968 NCAA tournament. They were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their sweet 16 appearance and were honored in the first half. The ’68 Bucs also took time to speak to the 2018 Bucs this morning during their practice.

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ETSU gets 20th win with victory over Samford

Bo Hodges Dunk vs Samford

With seven games left in the regular season ETSU picks up their 20th win of the season after a 96 to 76 win over Samford. The win extends the Bucs winning streak to 14 and conference record to 11-0.

ETSU jumped out to a 30-8 lead in the first half and led 48-35 at halftime and it looked like the Bucs were on their way to a big win. However, Samford started the 2nd half hot and cut the ETSU lead to three points with 15:53 left in the game. After that ETSU went on a 24-5 run and cruised to the 20 point victory.

Desonta Bradford was the star again tonight for the Bucs with a career high of 31 points on 12-16 shooting and 5-9 from the 3-point line. In addition to Bradford, Devontavius Payne added 15 points and Jalan McCloud 11 for ETSU. As a team the Bucs shot 58% and 45% from the 3-point line with 14 total three point shots made. The shooting percentages were a huge improvement over Monday’s night game versus The Citadel when ETSU just shot 36% from the field.

ETSU will look to continue their winning streak on Saturday at 4PM as they face off against rival Chattanooga. ETSU beat Chattanooga 85-66 earlier in the year on the road.

Player of the Week

Not only did Desonta Bradford come up big tonight versus Samford but his impressive play earned him player of the week in the Socon. Bradford averaged 18.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game to help the Bucs to a 3-0 record. Bradford is the 2nd ETSU player to earn Socon player of the week this year. Senior, Peter Jurkin also earned player of the week honors on January 9th.

Fastest to 20

For the third year in a row ETSU basketball has reached 20 wins, however what’s most impressive is it’s February 1st with seven games left. This is the fastest any ETSU team in history has won it’s 20th game. Not only that, but currently only 8 other division 1 college basketball teams have 20 wins. Some of those teams include Villanova, Auburn, Virginia and Purdue.

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ETSU gets big win over Wofford to hold onto first place

fetcher magee and desonta bradford

ETSU came into Spartanburg, SC as winners of 11 in a row and Wofford, who had only lost one game at home all year, was looking to end the winning streak. Despite a hard fought effort and energetic crowd at the new Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, Wofford was unable to derail the Bucs. Thanks to 17 points from Desonta Bradford and 16 from Jalan McCloud ETSU was able to extend their winning streak to 12 games. The winning streak is now just four games off the school record of 16 which occurred in the 2003-2004 season.

The game was back and forth throughout the first half until the 8:54 mark when Bo Hodges made a layup. The Bucs never looked back after that and quickly extended the lead to 9 points with six minutes left. The closest Wofford got after that was four points soon after the start of the 2nd half.

Wofford star Fletcher Magee led the Terriers with 21 points and Matthew Peagram scored 10. The ETSU defense continued to dominate as they held Wofford to just 37% shooting and 32% shooting from the 3-point line. Jermaine Long and the rest of the ETSU defense also did their job in containing the Fletcher Magee who was only 6-of-16 from the field and 5-of-12 from 3-point range. Magee never could get going and even missed two free throws. Coming into Saturday’s game Magee had only missed one free throw.

Another Streak

There was another streak on the line Saturday that came to an end. That streak actually belonged to Wofford. The Terriers had won five straight versus ETSU in Spartanburg. Prior to last night the last time ETSU won at Wofford was during the 2002-2003 season.

The Citadel

ETSU has a quick turnaround as they travel to face The Citadel Monday evening at 6 p.m. in Charleston, S.C. The Citadel is coming off a big win at Mercer on Saturday and will look to take down the red hot Bucs. Don’t be surprised to see a high scoring game Monday night as The Citadel is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation.

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ETSU extends winning streak to 10 with wins over Furman and WCU

Jalan McCloud dunks

The ETSU men’s basketball team played two more big Socon games this week and came away with two more victories while extending their winning streak to 10 games. It’s the Bucs longest winning streak since the 2006-2007 season. ETSU also improved to 7-0 in the Socon, which is their best conference start since 2003-2004 when the Bucs started 15-0. With the win over Furman on Thursday night the Bucs became the only undefeated team in the Socon and their undefeated mark remained after beating Western Carolina on Saturday.

Furman

The Bucs came into the Furman game with not winning at Timmons Arena since 2004 when it took a last second layup from Tim Smith to beat the Paladins 69-68. The game on Thursday night ended quite similarly to that 2004 game. The Bucs once again found themselves down a point in the final seconds against Furman and they looked to their senior leader Desonta Bradford to seal the win. Bradford drained a one handed floater with 4.5 seconds left to put the Bucs ahead 62-61. Furman was unable to make their final shot and ETSU came away with a hard fought win. It was a win that saw ETSU lead most of the game. The Bucs held a 12 point lead at one point in the 2nd half but Furman was able to crawl back and take the lead late. It was the Bucs defense that shined as they held Furman to just 36% shooting. The nine 3-point shots by ETSU was also a big factor in this win.

Desonta Bradford’s game winning shot:

Western Carolina

Saturday’s game against Western saw ETSU jump out to a 11-0 lead and never look back. The Bucs took home a rather easy 66-50 victory over a very physical Catamount team. The ETSU defense continued to dominate limiting Western to only 50 points on 32% shooting. Amazingly the 50 points allowed is just the 3rd lowest by an ETSU opponent so far this season. Both VMI and Hiwassee scored only 48 against ETSU.

The Bucs will look to continue their winning streak on Wednesday when they play Mercer for the 2nd time this year. The last outing saw ETSU win 74-55 in Macon. Mercer is coming into Wendesday’s game at 3-4 in the Socon after a tough overtime loss versus UNCG this weekend. Hopefully ETSU can build off the 5,412 fans that were at Freedom Hall for Western and fill Freedom vs Mercer!

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Desonta Bradford reaches 1,000 points while Bucs improve to 5-0

Desonta Bradford

After a big win versus UNCG on Thursday night the Bucs continued their winning ways with 89-48 blowout win over VMI and senior guard Desonta Bradford became the 41st player in ETSU basketball history to score over 1,000 points. With the win the Bucs improve to 5-0 in the Socon and are no longer tied for first place thanks to a Furman loss at Wofford.

The ETSU defense continued to impress as they held VMI to only 26% shooting overall and 23% from the 3-point line. Additionally ETSU forced 15 turnovers and 10 steals. The Bucs were led in scoring by both Devontavius Payne and David Burrell, both scored 17 points. Payne was 4-6 from the 3-point line and was one rebound shy of a double double. The ETSU bench also had a productive night totaling 55 points.

The Bucs have dominated the conference games so far by winning by an average of 21.4 points. ETSU has won 12 of its last 13 games and 8th in a row. The 8 game winning streak is the longest winning streak since 2010-2011. The 5-0 conference mark is the best conference start for ETSU since 2008-2009 when ETSU also started 5-0 in conference play.

Rankings

The Bucs continue to move up in the rankings. At the time of this post ETSU is #59 in the Kenpom rankings, #62 in the ESPN BPI rankings and #5 in the CollegeInsider top 25.

Furman

The Bucs have another big game on Thursday night when they have to travel to Greenville, SC to face a Furman team that just suffered it’s first loss in conference play. This game has huge implications for the the Bucs, if they can win it would put them two games ahead of Furman and make them a clear favorite to win the regular season. However, playing at Furman has been a challenge for the Bucs since they rejoined the Southern Conference. The Bucs are 0-3 at Timmons Arena since rejoining in 2015. The last time the Bucs won at Furman was during the 2003-2004 season.

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Bucs easily win first 3 Socon games on the road

ETSU vs Chattanooga - Socon

When the ETSU basketball schedule came out in August, there was one thing that stood out most of anything. The Bucs were forced the start the Socon basketball schedule with three games on the road and two of those were against the preseason #1 (Mercer) and #2 (Samford) ranked teams. Coach Forbes publicly spoke about the brutality of this and so did many ETSU fans but it proved to be not much of a challenge for the senior led Bucs. Not only did ETSU win all three games but they made it look easy. The Bucs won each game by an average of 18.6 points (lets just round to 19) and absolutely dominated Chattanooga, a game which I felt ETSU could have won by 30, but the officiating was called in favor of Chattanooga, as ETSU was called for 11 more fouls than UTC. Despite the fouls, it did not matter, as the Bucs shot 56% and out rebounded the Mocs 42-29.

Road Warriors

Speaking of winning on the road, last night Coach Forbes tweeted out that ETSU has the 2nd most road wins than any other team in college basketball so far this season. The only team that has more is fellow in state rival Middle Tennessee. Maybe the two should play each other next season?

Rankings

The stellar play of the Bucs has earned them the attention from various polls and computer rankings. At the time of this writing ETSU is ranked #62 in the Kenpom Rankings, #72 in ESPN’s BPI rankings, #91 in the Sagarin Ratings and #104 in the RPI.

As for the Mid-Major polls the Bucs rank #16 in the college insider mid-major top 25, #8 in the NBC sports mid-major power rankings and #22 in the Mid-Major Madness top 25.

White out on Thursday night

On Thursday ETSU plays perhaps the biggest Socon matchup of the season so far which is a rematch of the Socon final between ETSU and UNCG in Johnson City. ETSU is calling on everyone to come out and fill Freedom Hall in a white out. Both ETSU and UNCG are unbeaten in Socon play so far this year, although ETSU has played one more game than UNCG. Go Bucs! Fill Freedom Hall!!

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