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SoCon title in Bucs' sights at Wofford

Joe Avento • Feb 26, 2020 at 9:00 AM

It’s taken months to get to this point of clarity, but now the East Tennessee State basketball team has the goal in sight.

The Bucs can clinch at least a share of the Southern Conference regular-season championship Wednesday night with a win over Wofford. Perhaps more importantly, they can also wrap up the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

“It’s exactly where we want to be,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “It’s exactly what we’ve talked about all year long. We’ve put ourselves in position. Now we have to go finish.”

ETSU and Wofford meet at 7 p.m. in the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium in Spartanburg, South Carolina. If the Bucs win their final two games — they close the regular season Saturday against Western Carolina — they would win the regular-season title outright regardless of what happens the rest of the way around the league.

“We’re in control of our own destiny,” Forbes said. “We don’t have to worry about anybody else winning or losing. We just have to go on the court and take care of business.”

ETSU comes in 25-4 overall, 14-2 in the conference. The Terriers are 16-13 overall, 8-8 in the SoCon, which has them tied for sixth place and fighting for their lives to stay out of the play-in game at the conference tournament.

Wofford has lost five games in a row, which Forbes says makes it even more dangerous.

“You look at those losses, one was in overtime and two were by two points or something like that,” Forbes said. “I’m going to always have the same respect for Wofford no matter how many games they’ve won or didn’t win. I know they’re good. I know they have good players and I know they’re going to play really hard.”

JEROMY’S BACK

The Bucs are expected to regain the services of Jeromy Rodriguez, an all-conference forward who missed 13 games with a foot injury.

How much he’ll play remains to be seen as he tries to work himself back into playing shape.

SCOUTING THE TERRIERS

It’s senior night for Wofford and three players will be honored. Among them is leading scorer Nathan Hoover, who averages 15,7 points per game. The 6-foot-4 guard has made 85 of 91 free throws this season, good for 93.4 percent.

Also being honored are seniors Trevor Stumpe and Donovan Theme-Love.

Junior Storm Murphy is Hoover’s running mate and averages 12.3 points a game and leads the SoCon in 3-point shooting. Junior Chevez Goodwin averages 11.9.

FIRST MEETING

The Bucs held on to beat the Terriers 49-48 on New Year’s Day.

Wofford scored off an ETSU turnover to cut the deficit to one point and then fouled Patrick Good, who missed the front end of a one-ane-one. Before Wofford could get off a potential game-winning shot, ETSU’s Isaiah Tisdale tipped the ball away and the horn sounded.

Messiah Jones led Wofford that night with 18 points. He’s scored in double figures only two more times in 15 subsequent appearances.

Good was the only ETSU player to score in double figures in the first meeting, with 12 points. None of Wofford’s five starters scored in the first half.

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