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Bucs to play host to Towson in CIT on Friday night

March 19th, 2014 10:40 pm by Joe Avento

Bucs to play host to Towson in CIT on Friday night

The postseason continues Thursday for the East Tennessee State basketball team when the Bucs play host to Towson in the second round of the Tournament.

It will be the first meeting between the two teams. Both squads lost in their respective conference tournament semifinals, Towson in the Colonial Athletic Association and ETSU in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

"I've watched a lot of tape," ETSU coach Murry Bartow said. "They're a good team."

Towson, which is 24-10 and finished second in the CAA, has won 12 of its last 14 games, including a 63-60 victory over USC Upstate in the first round of the CIT on a halfcourt shot at the buzzer by Four McGlynn.

Jerrelle Benimon leads the Tigers in just about everything. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound senior averages 18.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, all tops on the team. He's been the CAA's player of the year the past two seasons.

"Just a big, thick, tough guy to deal with," Bartow said. "When you see how big he is, you think he's a back-to-the-basket player and that couldn't be further from the truth. He makes threes. He handles the ball a lot. He's a good player."

Towson has three other double-figure scorers in Rafriel Guthrie (11.8), Marcus Damas (11.3) and Mike Burwell (10.5).

"They've got a lot of nice players, really an athletic team," Bartow said.

ETSU junior guard Rashawn Rembert took over the Atlantic Sun Conference's scoring lead over the past two days. He entered the postseason tied with USC Upstate's Torrey Craig, who was held to 14 points by Towson in the CIT opener. Meanwhile, Rembert scored 17 in the Bucs' 79-66 victory over Chattanooga to take a slight advantage.

"It's big in a way when you look at it from an individual point, but I'm more focused on the collective thing, trying to get the win," Rembert said.

Rembert also continues to set ETSU's single-season record for 3-point baskets. He has 105 in 244 attempts for a conference-leading 43.0 percent.

The win over Chattanooga was one of ETSU's most complete performances of the season. The Bucs held the Mocs to 31 percent shooting and had almost as many blocked shots (eight) as turnovers (nine). They also had eight steals, which led to several easy baskets.

ETSU's Jalen Riley had 23 points, most coming from strong drives to the basket which led to acrobatic layups or fouls. He went 9 for 10 from the free throw line.

"I try my best to use whatever body strength I have to create foul opportunities to get to the line," said Riley, the A-Sun's newcomer of the year. "Getting to the rim when the game starts getting down the stretch, it creates easier opportunities. I try my best to get to the rim whenever I can to try to get an easy shot attempt or at least get it on the rim so somebody else can come finish it."

This game is quite a contrast to the CIT opener against Chattanooga, a team ETSU had played 75 times. Towson and the Bucs are total strangers, and the game comes on one day's notice.

"It's not easy," Bartow said. "In a situation like that, you try to ride your momentum from the last game. We'll watch a lot of tape, show them stuff and try to get ready to play a good game. We've got some material to give them. They'll know a lot about Towson when this day is over."

Towson has gone through quite a turnaround in recent years. The team was 1-31 three seasons ago.

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