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Bradford back as Bucs prepare for Wofford, shot at SoCon title

Joe Avento • Updated Feb 22, 2018 at 6:46 PM

Desonta Bradford was back on the practice court Thursday, and that was good news for the East Tennessee State basketball team.

Bradford, who sat out the Bucs’ stunning loss to The Citadel with an ankle sprain, is expected to be back in the lineup Friday when Wofford and Fletcher Magee pay a visit to Freedom Hall. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

“I’m fine,” Bradford said before going full speed in practice. “I’m glad to be back. It was a day-to-day thing. I’m back now and I’m ready to get two wins. It was hard watching my teammates, everybody getting to play a game and I wasn’t out there.”

ETSU (23-6) can clinch at least a share of the Southern Conference regular-season championship with a victory.

The 84-82 loss to The Citadel on Tuesday night left the Bucs 14-2 in the SoCon and clinging to a one-game lead in the conference race. With two games left, UNC Greensboro is right on their heels at 13-3.

Bradford ranks fourth in the SoCon in scoring (15.3 points per game), seventh in rebounding (5.9), eighth in assists (3.5) and first in steals (1.9). In addition, he’s third in field goal percentage (47.3) and ninth in free throw percentage (76.3).

“We need him because he’s our leading scorer and he does a lot of other things,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “He’s a stat stuffer. He does so many things for us.”

Wofford, coming off a 76-66 loss to UNCG, is 19-10 overall, 10-6 in the SoCon. One of its non-conference victories came at North Carolina.

The Terriers still have plenty to play for. They’re a game behind Furman for third place and a game ahead of resurgent Mercer for fourth.

“It’s a big game,” Bradford said. “Magee’s a good player. We just have to limit his shots and make it tough for him.”

MR. MAGEEE

Magee makes the Terriers go. He’s one of the top shooters in the country and has really picked up his game over the past two weeks.

The 6-foot-4 junior guard leads the country with 129 successful 3-point baskets this season. That’s 14 more than anybody else in the nation.

He comes in leading the SoCon in scoring at 22.8 points per game and has been averaging 28.7 over the last three.

Magee recently scored 45 points against Chattanooga. He’s shooting 92 percent from the foul line — that’s fourth in the country — and 45 percent from 3-point range.

“He’s such a good player and he has unlimited range,” Forbes said. “We have to guard the 3-point line and we can’t foul them. They can’t come in here and make double-digit threes and we can’t let them get to the foul line because they make such a high percentage.”

NO ONE-MAN TEAM

Even with Magee being such a focal point of their offense, the Terriers actually have a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures. Trevor Stumpe averages 11.4 points per game, while Cameron Jackson gets 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds and Nathan Hoover averages 10.4.

FORBES BOBBLEHEAD

Each of the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a Steve Forbes bobblehead sponsored by Johnson City Honda. The first 225 students will also receive long sleeve tee shirts.

It’s being billed as Fan Appreciation Night.

In addition, it will be Stars Wars Night. Members of the Stars Wars fan club’s 501st Legion and rebel Legion will be on hand in their replica costumes. Highlighting their appearance will be a fully functional R2D2.

After the game, an autograph session featuring ETSU players and Stars Wars characters will be held.

UP NEXT

The Bucs will close the regular season Sunday with a 2 p.m. home game against Furman. After that, they’ll play in the SoCon tournament quarterfinals on Saturday, March 3, either at noon as the No. 1 seed or 6 p.m. as the No. 2.

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