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ETSU favored against winless Chicago State

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Nov 18, 2018 at 10:04 PM

East Tennessee State will be looking to keep Chicago State in the winless column Monday night.

The Bucs (2-2) play host to the Cougars (0-5) in the Cayman Island Classic at Freedom Hall at 7 p.m. It caps off a full day of college basketball, with the ETSU women playing Troy at 11 a.m. at Brooks Gym, and Sam Houston State and Jackson State playing at Freedom Hall at 4 p.m.

ETSU is coming off a 76-74 win at Winthrop where Isaiah Tisdale led the way with 17 points, six assists and four steals. Now, the Bucs will try to pick apart a Chicago State team that has been blown out in four of its five games, being outscored by opponents by a margin of 32.4 points.

With three games in four days, ETSU coach Steve Forbes didn’t get much time to look at the Cougars on film. Still, he knows the Western Athletic Conference team has enough athletes to potentially be a dangerous opponent.

"(Chicago State coach) Lance Ervin is a friend of mine and I've got a lot of respect for him." Forbes said. "I know they went to Illinois State and played them tough (in a 79-75 loss). We're in a situation where we play the winner or loser of Sam Houston and Jackson State on Tuesday, and then North Dakota State on Saturday. We have to win those home games."

The Cougars have been averaging just 58.8 points per game, led by 6-foot-5 senior guard Anthony Harris with 12.4 points per game. Christian Brown, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, is the only other Chicago State player in double figures at 11 points per game.

They have hit just 35.9 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from 3-point range. The Cougars have also been outrebounded by over six per game, which has been the strength of the Bucs, who have outrebounded opponents by 19 per game.

"You can't teach that. Our guys play hard and that's something they do," Forbes said. "They have an innate ability to go get the ball strong. (Mladen) Armus and (Jeromy) Rodriguez go after it and they start knocking the ball around."

ETSU has just three players — Bo Hodges, Isaiah Tisdale and Patrick Good — averaging 10-plus points per game, but Rodriguez has averaged 9.8 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. Armus has averaged 9.5 points per game.

The scoring has been spread out as the Bucs have emphasized sharing the basketball. They did to the tune of 19 assists in the win over Winthrop. 

"We have an identity that no matter what happens, we're going to play smart and play together and share the ball," Forbes said. "Everybody is going to touch it. It's like when I played baseball, my coach was like, 'Let's throw strikes, let them hit it and everybody is going to play.' When you're walking guys, it's not fun and that's a lot like basketball, it's not fun to see one guy out there dribbling the basketball." 

EDUCATION DAY FOR WOMEN

The East Tennessee State women's basketball team will host Troy on Monday at 11 a.m. for the annual Education Day game. The Bucs have started the season 0-3 with road losses at Cincinnati, Michigan State and Radford. After dropping its season opener, Troy (2-1) has posted wins over Samford and Tennessee State.

Amber Rivers (14.0 points per game) and Sky'Lynn Holmes (11.0) are the early scoring leaders for Troy. Erica Haynes-Overton (13.3 ppg) and Micah Sheetz (10 ppg) lead ETSU after three games.

EARLY GAME AT FREEDOM HALL

Sam Houston State (2-3) will tip off with Jackson State (0-3) in the early game of the Cayman Island Classic at 4 p.m.

The Bearkats of the Southland Conference are coming off a 75-64 loss at Georgia in their last outing on Friday night. Cameron Delaney leads the Huntsville, Texas-based team at 14.2 points per game, followed by RJ Smith at 10 points per game.

Jackson State (0-3), based out of Mississippi's capital city, has gotten off to a slow start, losing its first trio of contests by an average of 19 points. The Tigers, who play in the Southwest Athletic Conference, have struggled particularly on the offensive end, scoring just 36 points against St. Bonaventure and 53 points against Boise State.

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