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Ty Brewer led the Bucs with 15 points in their last outing.

The East Tennessee State men’s basketball team is coming off a loss, but it was one that showed the Bucs there’s hope as they head into the meat of the Southern Conference schedule.

“I told my team the good thing is there’s more games left,” said ETSU coach Desmond Oliver, whose team plays at Samford on Saturday. “And I really believe that there’s no one in the conference — when it comes to us getting right for 40 minutes — that we can’t go beat and win a championship.”

The key was getting right for 40 minutes. The Bucs looked like a contender Wednesday night for most of the game against Furman. They led for almost 31 minutes, but faded down the stretch as the Paladins scored the final nine points for a 78-69 win.

The result left the Bucs 10-8 overall, 2-3 in the SoCon.

“These losses that we’re taking make it hard to win a championship in the regular season and now it puts all your eggs in one basket of your tournament play,” Oliver said. “But there’s no one that we can’t beat. We just have to finish games.”

The Bucs and Bulldogs meet at the Pete Hannah Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Tip-off time is 3 p.m. The teams did not face each other last season as both scheduled games were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS

Samford is 11-5 overall, 1-3 in the SoCon, and has lost only once in seven home games. The Bulldogs, who have a win over Ole Miss to their credit, are coming off a loss to Wofford.

Ques Glover, a 6-foot sophomore from Knox Bearden, leads the Bulldogs at 18.6 points and 5.3 assists per game. Jermaine Marshall, a 6-6 sophomore, averages 11.9 points and 8.6 rebounds.

Bucky McMillan is in his second year as Samford’s coach. He was 6-13 in his first season.

ETSU BY THE NUMBERS

The Bucs’ scoring race is getting closer. David Sloan leads the way at 12.8 points per game. Ledarrius Brewer is next at 12.2 and Jordan King is at 12.0.

One of those three had led the team in scoring in every game until Ty Brewer led the way with 15 points against Furman. Ty Brewer continues to lead the team in rebounding at 6.6 per game. He has been ETSU’s top rebounder in nine of the last 14 games.

ON THE HORIZON

ETSU returns home for a three-game homestand, beginning Monday when Mercer comes to town. The Bucs play host to The Citadel on Saturday, Jan. 22 and UNC Greensboro on Jan. 26.

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