Opponent Preview for 1/31/19: Samford

The Bucs will take on Samford in Birmingham on Thursday, January 31st. The Bulldogs took ETSU to overtime in Freedom Hall, and on Thursday the Bucs will be playing at their place. They are coming off a win at Furman and an OT game at Wofford that they should have won. They played UNCG down to the wire.

As with most teams, their rotation has tightened in conference with the top 5 increasing their minutes (Sharkey 36.7; Austin 35.1; Allen 32.1, Gordon 31.8 and Guerrero 28.7) and everybody else dropping down. Kevion Nolan (.529 from 3 with 1.5 makes) gets 16.7 minutes seeing action in 6 of 9 conference games and averaging 5.8 points. Deandre Thomas and Stefan Lakic get about 10 minutes and 2 points apiece. They live and die with the top 5. 

Samford is a strong offensive team ranked 87th in offense in D1 by Kenpom compared to 106th for ETSU on the season as a whole. However, the Bucs do rank a notch higher than Samford in conference only offensive statistics. The Bulldogs can score inside with broad shouldered 7 foot 240 Guerrero, 6-8 200 Freshman Robert Allen and Sharkey penetrating. Or outside with the best 3 point shooting team in the SoCon at .417 with 8.9 makes, 9th in D1 on the season. Main shooters are 6-5 Alabama transfer Brandon Austin (.449 with 3.4 makes in conference), 6-8 freshman Robert Allen who has really upped his game in conference (.481 with 1.4 makes), and Myron Gordon (.370 with 1.1 makes), with subs Kevion Nolan (.529 with 1.5 makes) and Deandre Thomas (.444 with 0.4 makes) joining in when they get off the bench. Sharkey will fire them up but is hitting only .276 with 0.9 makes in conference. In conference the Bucs are at .376 from 3 with 8.6 makes. Last time the Bucs were 1-11 from 3 in the second half, while Samford on the game was .375 from the arc, 9-24.

The Bulldogs are a high scoring like ETSU (81.7 ppg to 81.3 for the Bucs in conference), just behind Wofford in the top slot at 83.4.

Handling Sharkey was a real challenge last time, with multiple players taking a turn on him, and even bigs Armus and N’Guessan taking a shot at the end. He’s a master of the drive and dish averaging an unheard of 9.7 assists in conference, and is 4th in D1 in 3PT% on the season with 7.5. When he passes out to the perimeter, they have the guys to knock it down. Despite Sharkey’s excellence, ETSU is better with assists as a team, averaging 16.7 assists to Samford’s 15.8 in SoCon play. 

Hopefully it won’t come down to free throws, since Samford is tops in the SoCon with .757 and 15.2 makes in conference. None of their top 5 average under .724 from the line, though bench players Nolan and Lakic are in the .500’s. Meanwhile the Bucs are last with .636 and 9.9 makes. Last time we played Samford the Bucs were 12-21 for .571 from the line.

The Bucs have the rebounding edge with +9.1 in conference to -1.1 for Samford. We won the boards 48-21 last time, and need to make a statement there again.

Steals (7.9 to 7.4) and turnover margin (+0.56 to 0.0) are even. Sharkey is 8th in D1 in steals on the season and leads the SoCon with 3.0 in conference. 

Bucs have the edge in defense where they are rated 56th in D1 by Kenpom to 197th for Samford. ETSU leads the SoCon with a .437 field goal percentage defense (to Samford’s .465) and allows .357 from 3 to a last in conference .378 for Samford. 

Kenpom has us favored by a single point, 72-71. With the way that the Bulldogs have played ETSU, Furman, Wofford and UNCG (and Belmont and UT for that matter), it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a battle all the way. 

All stats below are conference only:
#3 5-10 170 Jr Josh Sharkey, 36.7 minutes, 17.4 ppg on .276 with 0.9 makes from 3, 3.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 5.0 t.o.’s and 3.0 steals
#0 6-5 200 R-Jr Alabama Transfer Brandon Austin, 35.1 minutes, 15.8 ppg on .449 with 3.4 makes from 3, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals
#4 6-3 180 Jr Myron Gordon, 31.8 minutes, 11.4 ppg on .370 with 1.1 makes from 3, 2.9 rebounds
#1 6-2 170 So Kevion Nolan, 16.7 minutes, 5.8 ppg on .529 with 1.5 makes from 3, 1.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.3 t.o.
#5 6-4 190 Fr Deandre Thomas, 11.6 minutes, 2.2 ppg on .444 from 3 with 0.4 makes, 0.8 rebounds

Front Court:
#32 7-0 240 R-Sr USF Transfer Ruben Guerrero, 28.7 minutes, 13.2 ppg on .575 FG%, no 3’s, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 t.o.’s, 2.1 blocks
#21 6-8 200 Fr Robert Allen, 32.1 minutes, 12.7 ppg on .481 with 1.4 makes from 3, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 t.o.’s, 0.4 blocks
#22 6-8 235 Fr Logan Dye, 7.6 minutes, 2.8 ppg on .632 FG%, no 3’s, 0.7 rebounds, 0.9 t.o.’s
#15 6-7 220 Sr Stefan Lakic, 9.4 minutes, 1.9 ppg, 0.9 rebounds

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ETSU defeats Samford in OT

Mladen Armus with the Dunk

East Tennessee State defeated Samford on Thursday night 81-72 in overtime after nearly blowing a 17-point 2nd half lead.

It was a game of halves on Thursday which saw ETSU dominate the first half and leading by 15 at halftime thanks to tough defense and 5 made 3-point shots.

The 2nd half started similarly as ETSU got a quick score by Jeromy Rodriguez and pushed the lead to 17. However, it was downhill for the Bucs afterwards as ETSU missed their next 10 shots. At the 12:39 Samford had cut the ETSU lead to 4 at 53-49. Samford later tied the game at 70 with 1:18 left. ETSU had two opportunities to win the game in the final 38 seconds but neither Tray Boyd or Isiah Tisdale’s shots fell.

In overtime the Bucs outscored Samford 11-2 thanks to a big 3-point shot from Tray Boyd and some clutch free throw shooting.

Part of the reason for the big comeback from Samford was due to the free throw woes for the Bucs. ETSU missed nine of 15 free throws in regulation but then went 6 for 6 in OT. The Bucs also turned the ball over 18 times.

With the win head coach Steve Forbes moves to 6-0 in overtime games while coach at ETSU and half of those overtime victories have been against Samford.

Highlights from ETSU’s win vs Samford

Rebounding Domination

The Bucs continued to dominate the boards on Thursday night by out-rebounding Samford 48-31. Both Jeromy Rodriguez and Mladen Armus combined for a total of 36 rebounds. 19 for Rodriguez and 17 for Armus. Coach Forbes even commented in the post game that he had never seen such a dominating rebounding performance from two players in a single game. ETSU continues to lead the nation in rebounding margin at +13.9 a game.

Scott Padgett vs Karl Hess

Another interesting moment late in the game came when official Karl Hess charged towards Samford coach Scott Padgett during a verbal altercation between the two where Padgett had to be restrained. Padgett later commented in the post game where he said “Are you stepping at me right now?” at Hess.

Scott Padgett commenting in the postgame on the altercation with official Karl Hess

ETSU will next face rival Chattanooga in Freedom Hall at 4PM on Saturday where ETSU legend Greg Dennis will have is jersey retired.

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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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