NOTE: Bucknell Athletics will be collecting coats and other warm winter clothing items to donate to the Union County Food Pantry. If you wish to contribute, bring your items to the Sojka Pavilion lobby prior to the game.
What: Vermont (6-1) at Bucknell (3-5)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2017, 7 p.m. (ET)
Webcast: Patriot League Network
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Listen Live: BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com
Live Stats: BucknellBison.com
Tickets: 570-577-1000 or purchase online
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.4 apg)
G: Jimmy Sotos (6.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.1 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (6.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.3 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (24.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.6 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.0 apg)
With a Win over Vermont, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 4-5 overall and 3-0 at home this season.
• ... beat the Catamounts for the first time in three all-time meetings.
• ... improve to 158-52 all-time at Sojka Pavilion.
• ... improve to 47-28 under Nathan Davis.
• Bucknell’s difficult early season schedule takes another turn on Saturday when Vermont comes to Lewisburg for the first time. This is a matchup of two No. 13 seeds in last year’s NCAA Tournament and two of the top mid-major programs over the last decade. Bucknell and Vermont will forever be linked by the date March 18, 2005. That night Vermont earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, knocking off fourth-seeded Syracuse 60-57 in overtime in Worcester, Mass. A few hours later, Bucknell did the same thing, stunning third-seeded Kansas 64-63 in Oklahoma City.
• The Bison saw their three-game winning streak come to an end thanks to an off shooting night on Wednesday at Saint Joseph’s. Bucknell hit just 4 of 27 shots from 3-point range and shot 34.2% overall in an 83-70 loss to the Hawks.
• Bucknell is down two starters for the time being. Sophomore Avi Toomer has missed the last five games with a leg injury that is expected to keep him out 4-8 weeks. Junior Kimbal Mackenzie is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on Tuesday to repair an abdominal muscle tear.
• Senior Zach Thomas is off to a terrific start, averaging 24.1 points and 10.0 rebounds in the first eight games of the season. Already a two-time Patriot League Player of the Week, Thomas became the first Bison in 26 years to start a season with three straight 20-point games. He now has six 20-points games (including two 30-point games) on the season, the last a 38-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist gem at Stony Brook last Sunday. Even though he had a rare cold shooting night at Saint Joseph’s (3-15 FG, 1-5 3FG), Thomas still finished with 15 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Thomas currently leads the nation in free-throw attempts (86) and ranks third in free throws made (66) and seventh in points per game.
• Thomas’ fellow seniors, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown, are also off to fast starts. Foulland is averaging 15.9 ppg, while Brown tallied a career-high 23-point game at Maryland and is averaging 12.8 ppg and 5.4 apg. The three seniors have combined for 63.3% 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.
• Vermont has been the premier team in the America East conference, and like Bucknell it was a unanimous preseason league favorite. The Catamounts are going for their 10th straight 20-win season and are already off to a great start at 6-1. Vermont’s lone loss was 73-69 at Kentucky in the season opener on Nov. 12, and since then it has rattled off six straight wins over Bradley, Coastal Carolina, Northern Kentucky, Maine-Ft. Kent, Yale and Richmond. The Catamounts beat Richmond — an upcoming opponent for Bucknell — 71-65 in Richmond on Wednesday in their most recent outing. Anthony Lamb leads the team in scoring (14.1) and rebounding (6.9), while Ernie Duncan (11.9), Trae Bell-Haynes (11.9) and Payton Hanson (10.9) also score in double figures.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Vermont game will be televised locally in Northeastern PA on WQMY-TV. Joe Vasile and former Bison standout point guard Abe Badmus will be on the call. The game will also stream live on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.
• 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 BucknellBison.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 recorded 15 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, and Nana Foulland also registered a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards, but Bucknell could not overcome an ice-cold shooting night in an 83-70 loss at Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday night at Hagan Arena.
• Stephen Brown added 15 points for the Bison, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.
• James Demery scored 20 points, Shavar Newkirk had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Chris Clover had 17 points for the Hawks (4-3).
• It was a rough first half for the Bison, who averaged 95.7 points per game on their recent three-game winning streak. They shot just 25.0% (9-36) in the first half, including a 2-for-16 mark from 3-point range.
• Bucknell finished at 34.2% for the game and hit just 4 of 27 from 3-point range. After some strong free-throw shooting in recent games, the Bison even struggled there in this one, hitting 12 of 23.
• The Bison finished with only six turnovers in the game and parlayed 17 offensive rebounds into a 51-49 edge on the glass. Thomas had 11 rebounds by halftime and fell one shy of the team’s first 20-rebound game since Eric Hegedus in 1985.
• Thomas, who led the nation in free-throw attempts coming into the game, got to the line 10 more times in this one, hitting eight.
Bucknell vs. Vermont
• The Bison and Catamounts have met twice previously, both coming in opening-weekend, neutral-site tournaments.
• Most recently, on Nov. 17, 2001, Vermont won 77-60 in the consolation game of the Mohegan Sun Classic, hosted by Central Connecticut State. Bryan Bailey had 17 points and Boakai Lalugba had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Bison. T.J. Sorrentine led the Catamounts with 23 points, and Taylor Coppenrath had 16.
• The only other meeting between the two squads came in the 1994-95 season-opener at the Pepsi-Marist Classic. That was Pat Flannery’s very first game as head coach of the Bison. Vermont prevailed 67-66 behind 19 points from high-scoring guard Eddie Benton. The Bison trailed by 10 at the half and by six with a minute to play, but they nearly pulled it out anyway. Sekou Hamer’s driving layup rimmed out at the final buzzer after Vermont missed two free throws at the other end. Kihlon Golden led the Bison with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Bucknell vs. The America East
• The Bison will be playing an America East team for the second time in a span of six days. They defeated Stony Brook 85-76 last Sunday on Long Island.
• Bucknell does not have a long history with the America East Conference, but has had some success. The Bison are 19-10 against the nine teams that currently comprise the America East: 6-2 vs. Albany, 6-2 vs. UMBC, 3-1 vs. Binghamton, 2-2 vs. Maine, 1-0 vs. Stony Brook, 1-1 vs. Hartford, and 0-2 vs. Vermont. Bucknell has never played New Hampshire or UMass-Lowell.
• Prior to this season, Bucknell’s last meeting with an America East team was a 61-58 win over Albany in 2014-15.
Thomas Lights up the Seawolves
• Senior forward Zach Thomas had a brilliant game last Sunday at Stony Brook, recording 38 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in Bucknell’s 85-76 victory.
• Thomas recorded the 11th-highest scoring performance in team history. It was the most points by a Bison since Chris Hass netted 40 at Army in 2015-16.
• Thomas became the first Bison to score at least 38 points and have as many as seven assists in a game.
• It was also the fourth time in school history that a player scored at least 38 points in a double-double.
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell ranks 25th nationally in made free throws (193) and 28th in free throw attempts (140) 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 76.7%. He made 20 in a row at one point, spanning the Siena and Ball State games.
• Thomas has scored in double figures in 22 games in a row, topping the 20-point mark in 11 of those 22 games.
• Bucknell has logged a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in every game this season except Arkansas. Point guard Stephen Brown has 43 assists and only 13 turnovers on the year, and freshman Jimmy Sotos has 17 assists and only six turnovers.
• Bucknell committed a season-low six turnovers at Saint Joseph’s and ranks 28th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.42). The Bison also rank 17th in the nation in fewest turnovers per possession (.145)
• Bucknell has made 10+ 3-pointers in six of the first eight games of the season, and the Bison have not allowed more than 10 in a game all year. The Bison have 75 treys, compared to just 56 for their opponents.
• Through Thursday’s games, Thomas leads the nation in free throw attempts (86), and he ranks third nationally in made free throws (66) and seventh in points per game (24.1).
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Thomas ranks 55th out of all Division I players with a score of 30.38. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
NCAA LEADERS, POINTS PER GAME
- Trae Young, Oklahoma 28.8
- Femi Olujobi, North Carolina A&T 26.3
- Matt Scott, Niagara 25.6
- Jon Elmore, Marshall 25.3
- Collin Sexton, Alabama 24.7
- Max Heidegger, UCSB 24.1
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 24.1
- Daniel Utomi, Akron 23.8
- Andrew Rowsey, Marquette 23.7
- Rob Gray, Houston 23.6
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell has one more game before breaking for final exams. The Bison will travel to Northeastern on Tuesday night for the first-ever meeting between the two teams.