LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell senior Zach Thomas captured his third The Rock Patriot League Player of the Week honor in the first four weeks of the season on Monday, after he averaged 19.5 points, 14.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists against Saint Joseph's and Vermont last week. Thomas currently ranks sixth in the nation in scoring at 24.1 points per game, and he has eclipsed the 20-point mark in seven of the team's nine games thus far.
Not only is Thomas leading the Patriot League in scoring, but he is also the top rebounder at 9.9 per game, and he ranks in the top 12 in the league in nine different statistical categories.
In a season already filled with terrific performances, one of his most efficient came in Saturday's big win over reigning America East champion Vermont. Thomas hit 7 of 9 shots from the field, 5 of 7 from 3-point range, and 5 of 6 from the foul line en route to a 24-point night. He also added nine rebounds and five assists in the 81-77 victory. His 28-foot 3-pointer 3:30 to go gave the Bison a 10-point lead, and after Vemont rallied within three, Thomas iced it with a big defensive rebound and two free throws with 14 seconds left.
Earlier in the week, Thomas tallied 15 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in a loss at Saint Joseph's. It was his fourth double-double of the season and 16th of his career.
In addition to ranking sixth in the country in scoring, Thomas leads the nation in total free-throw attempts with 92 and he ranks third in made free throws with 71.
Bucknell has won four of its last five games heading into Tuesday night's game at Northeastern.
What: Bucknell (4-5) at Northeastern (4-4)
Where: Matthews Arena, Boston, Mass.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 7 p.m. (ET)
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Listen Live: BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com
Live Stats: GoNU.com
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (13.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.4 apg)
G: Jimmy Sotos (6.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.2 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (6.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.3 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (24.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.9 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 apg)
With a Win over Northeastern, Bucknell Would ...
• ... win its fifth game in the last six outings heading into the final exam break.
• ... improve to 5-5 overall and 2-5 on the road this season.
• ... get a victory in the first meeting between the two teams.
• ... improve to 48-28 under Nathan Davis.
• After starting the season with four road losses against Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland, the Bison have bounced back with four wins in their last five games. The latest was a good home win over Vermont, 81-77, on Saturday night. The Catamounts are the reigning America East champions, they had won 27 of their last 29 dating back to last season, and they were ranked No. 2 in the CollegeInsider Mid-Major Poll.
• Northeastern will be Bucknell’s 10th game in the first 26 days of the season. The Bison will then get an 11-day layoff for final exams before resuming the schedule on Dec. 16 at VCU.
• Bucknell is down two starters for the time being. Sophomore Avi Toomer has missed the last six games with a leg injury that is expected to keep him out 4-8 weeks. Junior Kimbal Mackenzie is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery last week to repair an abdominal muscle tear.
• Senior Zach Thomas is off to a terrific start, averaging 24.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in the first nine games of the season. Already a three-time Patriot League Player of the Week (including this week), Thomas became the first Bison in 26 years to start a season with three straight 20-point games. He now has seven 20-point games (including two 30-point games) on the season, headlined by a 38-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist gem at Stony Brook on Nov. 26. Most recently, Thomas had 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the win over Vermont. Thomas currently leads the nation in free-throw attempts (92) and ranks third in free throws made (71) and sixth in points per game.
• Thomas’ fellow seniors, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown, are also off to fast starts. Foulland is averaging 15.7 ppg, while Brown tallied a career-high 23-point game at Maryland and is averaging 13.2 ppg and 5.4 apg. The three seniors have combined for 63.8% of the team’s points this season.
• The Bison were the unanimous favorite in the Patriot League Preseason Poll of head coaches and sports information directors. Nana Foulland was voted PL Preseason Player of the Year and was joined on the Preseason All-Patriot League Team by Thomas.
• Northeastern won its first two games of the season, dropped four straight, and now has bounced back with consecutive home wins over Harvard and Cornell to level its record at 4-4. The Huskies are 3-0 at home, 1-2 on the road and 0-2 at neutral sites, with the road win coming at Boston University of the Patriot League in the season opener. Vasa Pusica leads the team in scoring at 14.6 ppg. Donnell Gresham also scores in double figures with 10.6 ppg.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Northeastern game will be televised on NESN-Plus, with Bill Spaulding (play-by-play), Patrick McHugh (color) and Adam Giardino (sideline) on the call. The game will also stream live through the Northeastern website at GoNU.com.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong calling the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• Live statistics can be accessed via GoNU.com.
• The audio feed is available online free of charge on personal computers via BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com. To listen on iPhone and Android devices, download the official Bucknell Athletics app.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
Last Time Out
• Zach Thomas matched his season average with 24 points, hauled in nine rebounds and dished out five assists as Bucknell delivered an 81-77 victory over Vermont in an exciting battle of reigning conference champions Saturday evening at Sojka Pavilion.
• The Bison used an 8-0 run late in the second half that featured key 3-pointers by Bruce Moore and Nate Sestina to break a 58-58 tie. Bucknell led by 10 in the final minutes and then held off the Catamounts for the win.
• Bucknell’s starting five totaled 71 of the team’s points as Stephen Brown tallied 17, Nana Foulland 14 and Moore and Jimmy Sotos eight apiece. Sestina was a valuable player off the bench, making all four of his field goal attempts, including two critical 3-pointers on consecutive possessions late in the contest, and tallying 10 points. He played 12 minutes, mostly in relief of Foulland, who fouled out in the final minute.
• Bucknell shot 51.9% from the field, including a combined 20-for-32 performance by Thomas, Brown and Foulland. Vermont converted 48.1% of its field goals and had four starters in double figures, led by 20 points from Anthony Lamb.
• Bucknell finished with 11 3-pointers in 24 attempts, including 7 of 11 in the second half.
• The Catamounts had won 27 of their last 29 games dating back to last season, with the only losses coming against Purdue in the 2017 NCAA Tournament and Kentucky by just four points in this year’s season opener.
• For Thomas, his performance continued a remarkable start to his senior season. He hit 7 of 9 shots from the field, 5 of 7 from 3-point range and 5 of 6 from the foul line, giving him 20 or more points in seven of the team’s nine games on the season.
Bucknell vs. Northeastern and the CAA
• Bucknell and Northeastern will meet for the very first time on Tuesday night.
• Bucknell is 103-70 all-time against teams currently comprising the Colonial Athletic Association. Four CAA teams were longtime rivals of the Bison in the East Coast Conference and/or Middle Atlantic Conference: Delaware (52-34), Hofstra (19-10), Towson (17-8) and Drexel (15-15). Bucknell is also 0-2 against James Madison and 0-1 against Charleston.
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell ranks 25th nationally in made free throws (156) and 22nd in free throw attempts (216) this season.
• Zach Thomas has been the leader of that parade to the foul line. After setting school records for free throws made (19) and attempted (22) in the Siena game, he hit 12 of 14 against Ball State, 13 of 13 against Stony Brook, and 8 of 10 against Saint Joseph’s. After an uncharacteristic 2-for-8 showing on opening night at Monmouth, Thomas has his season average back up to 77.2%. He made 20 in a row at one point, spanning the Siena and Ball State games.
• Thomas has scored in double figures in 23 games in a row, topping the 20-point mark in 12 of those 23 games.
• Bucknell has logged a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in every game this season except Arkansas. Point guard Stephen Brown has 49 assists and only 16 turnovers on the year, and freshman Jimmy Sotos has 20 assists and only seven turnovers.
• Bucknell committed a season-low six turnovers at Saint Joseph’s and ranks 27th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.43). The Bison also rank 17th in the nation in fewest turnovers per possession (.148)
• Bucknell has made 10+ 3-pointers in seven of the first nine games of the season, and the Bison have not allowed more than 10 in a game all year. The Bison have 86 treys, compared to just 62 for their opponents.
• Through Sunday’s games, Thomas leads the nation in free throw attempts (92), and he ranks third nationally in made free throws (71) and sixth in points per game (24.1).
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Thomas ranks 29th out of all Division I players with a score of 31.48. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
NCAA LEADERS, POINTS PER GAME
- Trae Young, Oklahoma 28.8
- Matt Scott, Niagara 25.6
- Femi Olujobi, North Carolina A&T 25.1
- Jon Elmore, Marshall 24.9
- Nick King, Middle Tennessee St. 24.3
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 24.1
- Alonzo Trier, Arizona 23.9
- Max Heidegger, UCSB 23.8
- Kevin Harvey, Texas-Arlington 23.4
- Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas 23.1
Who’s Got Next?
• After the final exam break, Bucknell will resume play with three straight games against Atlantic 10 teams. The Bison play at VCU (Dec. 16) and Richmond (Dec. 19) before hosting La Salle (Dec. 22). Those are the final three non-conference games, with Patriot League play set to begin on Dec. 29 against American.