Where: Bender Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: Saturday, March 1, 2 p.m.
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 WEGH)
Internet Radio: BucknellBison.com
Live Stats: AUEagles.com
• ... extend its winning streak to a season-long six games and finish the regular season 16-13 overall, 11-7 in the Patriot League.
• ... ensure a winning record in 2013-14.
• ... split the season series with the Eagles.
• ... improve to 34-21 all-time against the Eagles.
• ... win at Bender Arena for the fifth time in a row.
• Bucknell brings a five-game winning streak — the 18th longest active streak in the nation entering the weekend — into Saturday’s regular-season finale at American. While the Bison are locked into the No. 4 seed and know they will host Army in a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal game next Wednesday, American is still battling for the regular-season title. An Eagles win on Saturday coupled with a Boston University loss at Holy Cross would give American the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the tournament.
• At 10-7 in the Patriot League, the Bison are assured of finishing .500 or better in league play for the 20th time in the 24-year history of the PL.
• Cameron Ayers is working on a streak of 22 straight double-figure scoring games, and he continues to lead the team and rank third in the Patriot league in scoring at 15.7 ppg. He has been even better in league games, averaging 16.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
• Bucknell’s five-game winning streak has coincided with the return to a bigger lineup. For much of the year the Bison went with a smaller, four-guard lineup. Since Dom Hoffman returned to starting at the “4” spot along with the emergence of Cory Starkey and D.J. MacLeay off the bench, the Bison are 5-0 with a plus-67 rebounding margin.
• This is a “new-look” Bison squad, as three standout players from last year’s NCAA Tournament team graduated (Mike Muscala, Bryson Johnson, Joe Willman) and are all playing professionally. Three Bucknell players made their first career starts on opening night at Stanford (Brian Fitzpatrick, Dom Hoffman, Ben Brackney), Ryan Frazier started for the first time in his career at Penn State, and Chris Hass did the same against Saint Francis.
• Bucknell returned two starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s squad that won a school-record 28 games, captured Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history.
• American was picked ninth out of 10 teams in the Patriot League Preseason Poll, but with one game left in the regular season the Eagles are 13-4 in league play and still have a shot at first place. American started out 10-0 in the league, then lost four out of five, but now the Eagles have posted back-to-back victories over Army and Navy. Now 9-2 at home this season, American leads the league in scoring defense (60.3 ppg) and leads the entire country in team field-goal percentage (.502). American and Kansas are the only two teams in the nation shooting over 50% as a team. The Eagles have four players scoring in double figures, led by Jesse Reed at 14.2 ppg.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-American game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network. Jason Knapp and former Army star Chris Spatola will have the call.
• 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.
• The audio feed is available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com.
• Live stats can be accessed at AUEagles.com.
Mike Muscala Headed to Atlanta
• On Tuesday the Atlanta Hawks worked out a transfer deal with Mike Muscala’s Spanish club Rio Natura Monbus Obradoiro that paved the way for the 2011 and 2013 Patriot League Player of the Year to join the NBA team. Muscala officially signed with the Hawks on Thursday, and he will be in uniform when Atlanta visits the Phoenix Suns on Sunday evening.
• When Muscala takes the floor for the first time, he will become the first Bucknell alum ever to play in an NBA game.
• Muscala had excelled in Spain. At the time of his departure he led the entire league in rebounding with 7.8 per game, and he ranked seventh in scoring at 14.6 points per game. In 20 games, Muscala shot 54.6% from the field and 87.1% from the free-throw line. In his final game in Spain, Muscala was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and scored 15 points in an 89-72 win over FIATC Joventut.
Bucknell vs. American
• Bucknell has an overall 33-21 lead in an all-time series with American that includes some historic dates. The very first meeting on Jan. 14, 1939 also happened to be the first game ever played in Davis Gym (AU won 38-33). Coincidentally, American was also the opponent for the very last game ever played in Davis Gym on Jan. 11, 2003 (a 63-52 Bison win).
• Bucknell has won 19 of 26 series meetings in Lewisburg, including 11 out of 13 at Sojka Pavilion, but the Bison are just 6-6 at Bender Arena since American joined the Patriot League in 2001-02.
• As Patriot League rivals, Bucknell leads 18-9. The Bison defeated American eight straight times during one stretch, including victories in the 2005 and 2006 PL Tournament semifinals, and they had another eight-game series win streak snapped earlier this year when the Eagles won 67-57 at Sojka Pavilion.
• Last season Bucknell won 56-55 in Washington, D.C., and 66-47 at Sojka Pavilion. Mike Muscala’s bucket with eight-tenths of a second remaining was the difference in the one-point win at Bender Arena, and he had 16 points and 14 rebounds in a game that Bucknell won despite shooting 11-for-24 from the foul line and 1-for-10 from 3-point distance. In the rematch at Sojka Pavilion, Cameron Ayers scored 18 points, including the 1,000th of his career, and Muscala scored 21 to help the Bison clinch their third straight Patriot League regular-season crown.
• Back on Jan. 2 at Sojka Pavilion, American rode a monster night from Tony Wroblicky to a 10-point win in the Patriot League opener for both teams. Wroblicky logged 24 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks and five assists. John Schoof and Darius Gardner added 11 points each for American, which shot 53.8% thanks in large part to a number of back-door layups and the 6’10” Wroblicky’s 8-for-12 work down low. The Eagles had been 1-11 all-time against Bucknell at Sojka Pavilion, but they never trailed in this one after getting out to a 9-0 lead. Chris Hass scored 18 points and Ayers 17 to lead the Bison.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 222-103 (.683) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. The Bison have clinched at least a .500 conference record this season, meaning that they have now finished at least .500 in PL play in 20 of the 24 Patriot League seasons.
• Bucknell won the last three outright Patriot League regular-season titles, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat.
• The Bison went 13-1 in the league in 2011 and 12-2 in each of the last two seasons, making them 37-5 over the previous three campaigns. Dating back to mid-2010, Bucknell has won 54 of its last 68 league games.
• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2013. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 18 times and to the championship game 10 times in the 23-year history of the league.
• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).
Anatomy of a Winning Streak
Some key numbers from this current five-game winning streak:
• Rebounding and defense have been two major factors in this run. The Bison have a +67 rebound margin (214-147) in their last five games, including a 46-27 figure against Boston University last Sunday and a 49-34 advantage over Lehigh on Wednesday. Of those 214 rebounds, 69 have come on the offensive glass.
• During the streak the Bison have held opponents to 57.0 points per game, 37.2% shooting from the field and 34.4% accuracy from the 3-point arc.
• This streak has coincided with a significant increase in production from the bench, particularly from junior Cory Starkey and freshman John Azzinaro. Over the last five games Starkey has recorded 26 points and 30 rebounds while averaging just over 20 minutes per game. Azzinaro has also been playing nearly 20 minutes per game at the point guard spot, and he was on the floor hitting big shots to close out each of the wins. He had missed 15 straight 3-pointers entering the Navy game on Feb. 12, but since then he is 8-for-14 from the arc and is averaging 8.2 points and 1.8 assists per game.
Ayers on All-Time Lists
• Bison senior Cameron Ayers has worked his way up a number of career all-time lists at Bucknell.
Category Total Rank Next Up
Points 1,505 9th Mike Joseph (1,518)
Field Goals Made 522 10th Joe Steiner (528)
3-Point FG Made 198 5th Mike Bright (206)
3-Point FG Pct. .412 5th Ted Aceto (.426)
Free Throw Pct. .835 3rd Bo Heiden (.849)
Games Played 131 4th Bryson Johnson/Mike Muscala (133)
• Bucknell’s win over Lehigh on Wednesday was No. 93 for this year’s senior class, a new school record. The previous mark was 92, set by the Class of 2013.
• This class now has an overall record of 93-38 (.710) and a Patriot League record of 47-12 (.797).
• Cameron Ayers has played in every one of those 93 victories, making him the winningest player in Bucknell basketball history.
• This class has been a part of three Patriot League regular-season titles, two Patriot League Tournament titles, two NCAA appearances and one NIT appearance.
Last Time Out
• Bucknell fought back from an early eight-point deficit and held off Lehigh 65-61 on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion. The win, coupled with Army’s loss to Boston University, clinched the No. 4 seed and a quarterfinal home game for the Bison.
• Cameron Ayers paced the Bison with 17 points, including the clinching free throw with eight seconds remaining. Chris Hass also scored in double figures with 12.
• The Bison bench once again played a prominent role in a victory. The bench combined for 20 points and 19 rebounds. John Azzinaro scored nine points; Cory Starkey added eight points and six rebounds; and D.J. MacLeay had two points and eight boards.
• Bucknell dominated the glass, outrebounding Lehigh 49-34. The Bison had 18 offensive boards.
• Bucknell won on a night in which it shot only 33.3% from the field and 25% (5-20) from 3-point range.
• The Bison turned 11 Lehigh turnovers into 19 points. The defense also held Lehigh to 37.3% shooting and forced standout point guard Mackey McKnight into six turnovers.
Numbers Worth Noting
• After shooting 12-for-15 from 3-point range at Lafayette on Jan. 8, Bucknell ranked No. 1 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.440). After a cold stretch, the Bison have begun to heat back up again from long range, going 30-for-73 (.411) over the last five outings. Bucknell is now shooting 39.0% for the season, the 25th-best mark in the nation.
• Oddly, Bucknell has shot much better on the road (44.8 FG%, 42.1 3FG%, 75.8 FT%) this season than at home (40.6 FG%, 35.1 3FG%, 75.1 FT%).
• In wins this season, Bucknell has shot 47.0 FG%, 46.6 3FG%, 76.9 FT%. In the losses, the Bison have shot 38.3 FG%, 31.4 3FG%, 73.4 FT%.
• In each of the last two seasons, Bucknell led the nation in defensive rebounding percentage (i.e. percentage of opponents’ missed shots that Bucknell has rebounded). This year, despite playing with a four-guard lineup for much of the year, the Bison still rank a respectable 7th out of 351 Division I teams in DR%. Last year, led by senior big men Mike Muscala and Joe Willman, Bucknell grabbed 79.0% of its opponents’ misses. This year that figure is still a solid 77.7%.
• Bucknell has typically ranked among the very best in the nation in fewest turnovers under coach Dave Paulsen, and this year has been no different. The Bison are averaging 10.2 turnovers per game to rank 22nd nationally. They turned the ball over a season-low four times at Colgate on Feb. 1.
• Last season Bucknell featured one of the nation’s most prolific shot-blockers in Mike Muscala, but so far this season the Bison have blocked only 45 shots in 28 games, compared to 131 by their opponents.
• Bucknell ranks 26th nationally in fewest personal fouls per game (16.9).
• Cameron Ayers leads the Patriot League and ranks 50th in the nation in free-throw shooting at 87.1%. As a team, Bucknell ranks No. 17 nationally in free-throw percentage at 75.4%.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell will host fifth-seeded Army in a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal game on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion. The game can be seen live on Bison Vision on the Patriot League Network.
• Bucknell and Army split a pair of regular-season meetings. The Black Knights won 74-67 on Jan. 19 at West Point, and the Bison returned the favor with a 73-61 home win on Feb. 15.