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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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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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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