ETSU overwhelms Kings

Photo by Kristen Luther
ETSU 35 v 53

  JOHNSON CITY - For 19 minutes, King College (4-4), of the NAIA Appalachian Athletic Conference, held its own with the East Tennessee State Buccaneers (2-2) on Monday evening at the Memorial Center, in the first meeting between the two local schools since 1950.
  Whether or not ETSU was looking ahead to Wednesday's showdown with 22nd ranked Alabama, the Tornado of King College played neck and neck with the Bucs, trailing only by six, before ETSU rather harshly removed the glass slipper from the proverbial foot of King College by converting two turnovers into four late points, increasing their lead to 12 at halftime, before cruising in the second half en route to an 82-48 victory.
  "This was a step in the right direction for us," said Buccaneers head coach Murry Bartow.
  "I thought the last 30 seconds of the first half was pivotal because it took a six-point lead and made it 12. For the first 19 minutes, King did some nice things to stay in the game, but for the last 20 minutes and 20 seconds we played well enough to pull away."
  For the majority of the opening half, King gave the Bucs all they could handle and then some, leading by three points at the 11 minute mark. While ETSU jumped out to a 10 point lead in the half, that lead never looked safe, as King College had an answer for every East Tennessee bucket.
  However, it was the turn of events a mere 30 seconds before the half that turned the tide. Out of a timeout, the Bucs got an easy turnaround jumper from Ben Rhoda, followed by a couple of early Christmas gifts from King College. Two consecutive Andrew Metz turnovers, of King's 26 total, were converted into two easy lay-ins by Tim Smith, to push the lead to 45-33, as the final lay-in just beat the buzzer.
  "Our plan was to throw it in and get it to Rhoda," said Smith, the 5-9 junior who scored 12 points while shooting five of nine from the field, of the run at the end of the half. "The play was called for Rhoda to score, and to trap, and try and score again. That was our plan, and it worked, and actually we got six points instead of four, so that was good."
  "We didn't play well at all in the first half," said Rhoda. "The last 30 seconds, coach called timeout, and we got an easy basket inside, a couple steals that we turned into points, and that gave us a lot of momentum going into half."
  Out of the half a much improved defensive effort helped propel East Tennessee on their way to completing a 20-0 run (a 14-0 run to begin the half), which began at the 1:13 mark of the opening half. The Bucs defense, which is missing the play of Brad Nuckles, still out with a foot injury, held King without an offensive field goal until the 11:27 mark of the second half, when the drought was broken by a Brent Bradshaw, who led King with 12 points, 3-pointer.
  The Bucs also saw improvement in the rebounding category from the first half to the second, as ETSU only rebounded King 21-20 in the first half, before seeing those totals increase to 45-37 in favor of the home-standing Bucs.
  ETSU, who was led by Rhoda who had a double-double, with 15 points and 10 rebounds, now readies itself for their tougest test of the season, a road trip to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.
  "By far, we'll have to play our best game of the year," Bartow said. "Especially right now without Brad (Nuckles) and not a lot of experience inside, we'll have to go there and play our best."
  Tip off for Wednesday evening's contest as they battle the Crimson Tide is scheduled for 8:00 p.m., with a regional television audience on Fox Sports Net. The Bucs return home on Saturday as they host College of Charleston, a South Division foe from the Southern Conference. The start time Saturday is 4:00 p.m., with Fox Sports Net again airing the action.
  King College returns to action on Wednesday evening as they visit Milligan College, in a key AAC showdown. Tip is slated for 7:30 p.m.