Bucs hoping for big crowd for big game against Wofford

Joe Avento • Updated Feb 5, 2019 at 7:58 PM

Everybody who enters Freedom Hall on the ground level walks under a sign that reads “Through these doors walk the best fans in the Southern Conference!”

They are reminded with another sign in the stands.

They have their chance to prove it Thursday night when East Tennessee State plays host to Wofford in a big Southern Conference basketball game.

The Bucs are counting on a big crowd to bolster their chances of beating the league’s first-place team.

Wofford comes in on a 10-game winning streak, 19-4 overall and 11-0 in the conference. The Terriers are ranked second in the national Mid-Major poll.

ETSU is 19-5, 9-2 and the eighth-ranked Mid-Major team.

“I think it’s always important to have a home-court advantage and have people excited about the game, excited about our team,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “I think the more people, the better.”

As of Tuesday, fewer than 1,000 tickets remained unsold. Freedom Hall’s capacity for ETSU games is 6,149.

ETSU averages 4,194 fans at its home games, tops in the SoCon. That number is more than 1,000 higher than the next-best team, Chattanooga.

“Any team, including ours, feeds off the passion of the crowd,” Forbes said. “I can remember times at Wichita State where I thought the crowd swallowed up the other team. I think that’s happened here a couple of times. The crowd willed us to play better.”

ETSU is 10-1 at home this season, with the lone loss coming to UNC Greensboro.

“Everybody else we play against, we get their best crowd, so I think Wofford should get our best crowd too,” ETSU guard Patrick Good said. “It’s a big game and a big crowd would be great. It doesn’t create our energy because we have to create our own. But just to know they’re there and we have their support, we want to give something back to Johnson City.”

Tipoff is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the ETSU ticket office at (423) 439-3878 or at etsubucs.com.

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