Johnson City Press: Bucs ready for road game with VMI
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Bucs ready for road game with VMI

Joe Avento • Feb 20, 2019 at 7:17 PM

Crunch time is just about here for the East Tennessee State men’s basketball team.

With ETSU, UNC Greensboro and Furman battling for position in the Southern Conference tournament behind top-seeded Wofford, every game is a big one.

Up next is a game at last-place Virginia Military Institute. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Cameron Hall in Lexington, Virginia.

The Keydets come in 7-19 overall, 1-13 in the SoCon. Their lone conference win was against Western Carolina, and they have lost seven games in a row since.

ETSU, meanwhile, is 21-7 overall and 11-4 in the SoCon. That’s a game behind UNCG for second place. The Bucs are ranked 14th in the latest mid-major poll.

“I think every game means something,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “All the speculation, who you’re playing, what’s your seed … there’s a lot of basketball left to play. You have to take the one in front of you and win it. VMI’s that game.”

Even though the Keydets are floundering, they gave ETSU fits in their visit to Johnson City earlier this season.

ETSU blew most of a 21-point lead in the final 10 minutes and hung on to win 85-82 only when Mladen Armus blocked a 3-pointer by Bubba Parham, who had 25 points.

It was a game that left the Bucs shaking their heads because everything came to them so easily in the first 30 minutes before they were almost the victims of a major upset.

Freshman point guard Daivien Williamson led the Bucs with 23 points.

“We got off to a great start and then they got back in it,” Forbes said. “And now, historically, VMI is not an easy place to play. We haven’t played great there. They almost beat Greensboro and they scored 60 in the second half against Wofford.”

SPREADING THE WEALTH

Patrick Good is the Bucs’ leading scorer. He’s averaging 12.0 points per game and should that number hold up, it would be the lowest average for ETSU’s top man since the 1999-00 season. Leo Murray led the team that season with an 11.0 average.

Jeromy Rodriguez is second at 11.8, followed by Tray Boyd III at 11.2. Four more players — Bo Hodges (9.4), Isaiah Tisdale (8.9), Daivien Williamson (8.7) and Mladen Armus (8.0) — average at least 8. Rodriguez’s 11.7 rebounds per game leads the SoCon. Armus also averages 8.0 rebounds.

SCOUTING THE KEYDETS

Parham, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, is the SoCon’s leading scorer at 20.4 points per game.

Garrett Gilkeson averages 10.4 and Myles Lewis 10.0.

VMI averages 865 fans per game, the lowest in the SoCon.

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