Unblemished Bucs


Photo by Dave Boyd Freshman guard Travis Strong makes a great save for the Buccaneers.

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com
JOHNSON CITY -- Wofford played from behind all night.
In their eighth conference matchup of the season, the East Tennessee State Buccaneers took off on a 22-0 run early in the first half and never looked back, ousting Wofford College 76-54.
The Bucs move to 8-0 in the conference for the first time ever, extending a record-breaking year for the team.
"We thought Wofford had a very deceiving record and we were concerned with them on the offensive end," said ETSU coach Murry Bartow. "We decided to play a lot of zone and the big lineup was effective again tonight."
The Bucs (16-4) had five players reach double digits, getting a 17-point game high from Zakee Wadood. Brad Nuckles and James Anthony tallied 13 points apiece while Tim Smith and Jerald Fields had 12 and 11, respectively.
Aside from Tyler Berg (12 points) and Howard Wilkerson (10 points), there wasn't that many bright spots for Wofford's offensive attack.
ETSU trailed 7-2 at the beginning of the game, then went on a 22-0 run and never relinquished the lead.
Ben Rhoda and Smith keyed the big run with a pair of buckets apiece. James Anthony and Aaron Scott helped make it 24-7 in favor of the Bucs.
Travis Strong and Nuckles added treys towards the end of the half to give the Bucs a 16-point, 45-29 halftime lead.
"We just wanted to come out strong," said James Anthony. "We've been coming out weak, and our main focus this time has been trying to put teams away once we get them down."
"We really wanted to come out sharp after they took a 7-2 lead," added Nuckles. "We came on and looked to put them away, but we never could. We did maintain a double-digit lead the whole game."
Wofford cut ETSU's lead to 12, and later 10 at the beginning of the first half after buckets from Berg, Wilkerson and Greg Taylor.
The Bucs got back in shape after a stretch of buckets from Wadood, Fields, Anthony and Smith to make it a 20-point game.
The Bucs held off Wofford's three-point shooting of William Belton and Adrien Borders with two treys from Anthony and a slam from Nuckles to keep the victory intact.
"We executed and played defense," said Wadood after the game. "It allowed us to get out of the transition and run. I think we kind of wore them down because they were a little banged up. It's hard to stop us on the floor when we're running."
Saturday, the Bucs face a tough Western Carolina squad that feature's the league's leading scorer in Kevin Martin, who averages close to 28 points-per-game.
"It's a tough place to play," said Wadood. "They are a good team and they played us pretty good earlier this year."
Added Anthony. "We've got to stop Kevin. They are a tough team on the road and they will give us a good game."
ETSU returns home for two key conference battles next week on Monday and Saturday when they host UNC-Greensboro and Appalachian State.
BUC NOTES:
- The Bucs shot 47.6 percent in the game compared to Wofford's 35.
- Berg led the game in rebounds with 11 for Wofford, while Anthony and Nuckles totaled seven and six apiece.
- Two big numbers were the 14 steals conjured up by ETSU during the game, and the 21 turnovers by Wofford.
- ETSU's draw in ESPN's Bracket Busters special will be revealed this Sunday by ESPN.
The Bucs are currently ranked eighth in their Mid-Major Poll and if the team can keep winning, there is a good shot that they will meet against one of the top eight Mid-Major teams in the country on the road.