What: Bucknell (4-6) at VCU (5-5)
Where: Wade Arena, Richmond, Va.
When: Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, 6 p.m. (ET)
TV: CBS 6 in Richmond
Webcast: Atlantic10.com ($)
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Listen Live: BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com
Live Stats: VCUAthletics.com
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (13.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.0 apg)
G: Jimmy Sotos (6.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (5.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.3 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (23.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.6 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg)
With a Win over VCU, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 5-6 overall and 2-6 on the road this season.
• ... win its fifth game in the last seven outings.
• ... get a victory in the first meeting between the two teams.
• ... improve to 48-29 under Nathan Davis.
• Bucknell has had 11 days to stew over a loss at Northeastern on Dec. 5, and now the Bison come out of final exams with yet another tough road test against VCU. Prior to the Northeastern game, Bucknell had won 4 of 5, including an impressive home win over reigning America East champion Vermont.
• There are plenty of connections between the Bucknell and VCU programs:
• Most notably, head coaches Nathan Davis and Mike Rhoades are longtime friends who were both assistant coaches together at Randolph-Macon, and both would later become the head coach at R-MC.
• Rhoades was a star player at Lebanon Valley, where he was coached by Pat Flannery, who would later become the Bucknell head coach.
• VCU director of sports performance Donald Brown is a 2007 Bucknell graduate and was a key player on the Bison teams that won NCAA Tournament games in 2005 and 2006. His brother, Johnathan Brown, is currently Bucknell's manager of basketball operations.
• VCU graduate assistant Dom Hoffman ‘16 was also a standout player for the Bison and was part of Bucknell's 2013 NCAA Tournament team.
• VCU assistant coach J.D. Byers was on Davis' staff at Randolph-Macon in 2009-10.
• VCU director of student-athlete development Mike Venezia played at Colgate during Davis' lone year as an assistant coach with the Raiders in 2008-09.
• VCU graduate assistant coach Lamont Moore played for Davis for three seasons at Randolph-Macon.
• Bucknell will also have two Virginia natives returning to their home state. Stephen Brown is from Manassas and attended Christ Chapel High School, where he graduated as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,512 points. Nate Jones is from Radford and attended Radford High School. His father, Mike Jones, is the head coach at Radford University.
• Prior to the exam break, Bucknell played 10 games in the first 26 days of the season. Seven of those 10 games were on the road.
• Bucknell has been playing without two starters in recent weeks. Sophomore Avi Toomer has missed the last seven games with a leg injury. Junior Kimbal Mackenzie is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal muscle tear.
• Senior Zach Thomas is off to a terrific start, averaging 23.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in the first 10 games of the season. Thomas and Duke's Marvin Bagley III are the only Division I players leading his conference in both scoring and rebounding.
• Already a three-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 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. Thomas now ranks ninth nationally in scoring, fourth in free throw attempts and fifth in made free throws.
• Thomas' fellow seniors, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown, are also off to fast starts. Foulland is averaging 15.4 ppg, while Brown tallied a career-high 23-point game at Maryland and is averaging 13.0 ppg and 5.0 apg. The three seniors have combined for 63.5% 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.
• Coming off a 26-9 season and a seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance, VCU was picked fourth in this year's Atlantic 10 preseason poll behind Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph's. The Rams, who have been off since Dec. 9, are 5-5 on the season, but the five losses are against Virginia, Marquette, Michigan, Texas and Seton Hall. VCU has five players scoring in double figures, led by Justin Tillman at 16.6 points per game. Tillman also leads the squad in rebounding at 7.7 rpg. De'Riante Jenkins (13.3), Jonathan Williams (11.0), Khris Lane (10.9) and Isaac Vann (10.0) also score in double digits.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-VCU game game will be televised locally in Richmond on CBS-6 TV. The game will also stream live on the A-10 Network at Atlantic10.com. Subscription rates apply for the web stream.
• 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 on personal computers via BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com. To listen on iPhone and Android devices, download the official Bucknell Athletics app.
• Live statistics can be accessed via VCUAthletics.com.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
Last Time Out
• Vasa Pusica scored 17 points to lead Northeastern to an 82-64 win over Bucknell on Dec. 5 at Matthews Arena. Zach Thomas scored 15 points for the Bison, but not much went right for them in this one.
• After hitting 10 or more 3-pointers in seven of their first nine games, the Bison attempted only 11 threes in this one and hit just two. They did have good success getting to the rim but just could not get enough stops to string together a run after the Huskies went up by double digits early in the second half.
• Northeastern attempted 30 3-pointers, making eight, but the Huskies were 25-for-32 (.781) on shots inside the arc en route to their third straight win and a 4-0 start at home.
Bucknell vs. VCU and the Atlantic 10
• Bucknell and VCU will meet for the very first time on Saturday night.
• This will be the first of three straight Atlantic 10 opponents coming up on the schedule. The Bison will play at Richmond on Tuesday and home against La Salle next Saturday. Bucknell already faced another A-10 squad, falling 83-70 at Saint Joseph's on Nov. 29.
• Bucknell is 37-75 (.330) all-time against the teams that currently comprise the Atlantic 10.
• The Bison are 6-19 against La Salle, 3-18 against Saint Joseph's, 3-3 vs. Richmond, 4-7 vs. George Mason, 7-2 vs. George Washington, 5-8 vs. Fordham, 3-5 vs. Duquesne, 3-5 vs. Rhode Island, 1-5 vs. St. Bonaventure, 1-2 vs. Davidson, 1-0 vs. Saint Louis, and 0-1 vs. Dayton. Bucknell has never played Massachusetts or VCU.
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell has recorded single-digit turnover totals in two of its last three games, and its season average of 11.0 turnovers per game leads the Patriot League and ranks 21st nationally. The Bison also lead the league and ranks 28th in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (1.41).
• Bucknell has logged a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in every game this season except Arkansas. Point guard Stephen Brown has 50 assists and only 16 turnovers on the year, and freshman Jimmy Sotos has 21 assists and only nine turnovers.
• Bucknell has done well to get to the free-throw line this season, attempting 23.6 foul shots per game. 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 74.7%. He made 20 in a row at one point, spanning the Siena and Ball State games.
• Thomas has scored in double figures in 24 games in a row, topping the 20-point mark in 12 of those 24 games.
• Bucknell has made 10+ 3-pointers in seven of the first 10 games of the season, and the Bison have not allowed more than 10 in a game all year. The Bison have 88 treys, compared to just 70 for their opponents.
• Through Wednesday's games, Thomas ranks fourth nationally in free-throw attempts (99), and he ranks fifth nationally in made free throws (74) and ninth in points per game (23.2).
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Thomas ranks 33rd out of all Division I players with a score of 30.59. PER measures the aggregate of a player's statistical efficiency.
NCAA LEADERS, POINTS PER GAME
- Trae Young, Oklahoma 28.8
- Matt Scott, Niagara 25.4
- Jon Elmore, Marshall 24.6
- Femi Olujobi, North Carolina A&T 24.3
- Nick King, Middle Tennessee St. 24.3
- Fletcher Magee, Wofford 23.8
- Max Heidegger, UCSB 23.4
- Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas 23.3
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 23.2
- Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra 23.1
Who's Got Next?
• Bucknell will remain in Richmond following the VCU game and will face the Spiders on Tuesday night. Bucknell defeated Richmond 73-68 in Lewisburg last season.