What: Holy Cross (5-13, 2-5 PL) at Bucknell (12-8, 6-1 PL)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, 12 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
PROMOTIONS & HAPPENINGS:
- Water bottle giveaway to first 1,000 fans, sponsored by GIANT.
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (13.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.7 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (5.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.6 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (6.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.8 bpg)
F: Zach Thomas (21.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.2 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (16.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.7 bpg)
With a Win over Holy Cross, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 13-8 overall, 7-1 in the Patriot League and 7-1 at home this season.
• ... maintain sole possession of first place in the Patriot League.
• ... win its sixth straight game, ninth in its last 10, and 13th in its last 17.
• ... improve to 56-31 under Nathan Davis and give Davis his 197th career win as a head coach.
• ... improve to 114-26 against Patriot League opponents at Sojka Pavilion.
• Bucknell brings a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s clash with Holy Cross at Sojka Pavilion. Four of the five wins in this streak came on the road, including two in a span of 48 hours at Colgate and Loyola earlier this week.
• Bucknell’s win at Loyola, coupled with Boston University’s home loss to American, put the Bison in sole possession of first place after seven rounds of Patriot League play. The Terriers are alone in second place at 5-2 and travel to Navy on Saturday. Navy, Army and Colgate are all tied for third at 4-3.
• The Bison have been getting it done with defense of late. In Patriot League play, Bucknell is holding opponents to 38.4% shooting from the field and 30.7% from the 3-point arc while yielding only 66.6 points per game and 0.89 points per possession. The Bison are also +7.7 on the glass and are averaging 5.9 blocks per game.
• Bucknell is starting to get healthier after playing without two starters for most of the season. Junior Kimbal Mackenzie missed 10 games after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal muscle tear, but the 2017 Third Team All-Patriot League selection returned on Jan. 11 against Lehigh, and he rejoined the starting lineup at Colgate on Monday. Sophomore Avi Toomer missed 16 games with a leg injury before returning to the rotation at Loyola on Wednesday. Reserve guard Matt O'Reilly has missed the last three contests with a foot injury and is out 4-6 weeks.
• Despite the depleted lineup, Bucknell has won eight of its last nine games and is 12-4 since starting the season with consecutive road losses at Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland.
• Zach Thomas is enjoying a monster senior year, averaging 21.4 points and 9.7 rebounds thus far. Thomas, who was named to the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award mid-season watch list, is one of five Division I players currently leading his conference in both scoring and rebounding:
PLAYERS LEADING A CONFERENCE IN SCORING AND REBOUNDING
Zach Thomas, Bucknell (PL) 21.2 ppg/9.6 rpg
Marvin Bagley III, Duke (ACC) 22.0 ppg/11.7 rpg
Deandre Ayton, Arizona (Pac-12) 20.2 ppg/11.3 rpg
Yante Maten, Georgia (SEC) 19.7 ppg/9.1 rpg
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s (WCC) 22.0 ppg/10.4 rpg
• Thomas has earned four Patriot League Player of the Week honors, giving Bucknell five this season (Nana Foulland has the other). Thomas has 12 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 22nd nationally in scoring, 23rd in rebounding, sixth in defensive rebounding, first in free throw attempts and second in made free throws.
2017-18 NCAA LEADERS, FREE THROW ATTEMPTS
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 184
- Bryson Scott, Fort Wayne 177
- Matt Scott, Niagara 169
- Jon Elmore, Marshall 165
- Deshon Taylor, Fresno State 163
2017-18 NCAA LEADERS, DEFENSIVE REBOUNDS
- Alize Johnson, Missouri State 8.65
- Iba Camara, New Hampshire 8.56
- Deandre Ayton, Arizona 8.42
- Devontae Cacok, UNC Wilmington 8.28
- Leland Kingil, UCSB 8.17
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 8.15
• Bucknell’s three seniors — Stephen Brown, Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas — are averaging 50.7 points per game and have combined for 63.0% of the team’s points this season. All three have now topped the 1,000-point plateau, with Brown the latest to reach the milestone on Jan. 8 at Lafayette. At Loyola on Wednesday, the trio topped the combined 4,000-point mark.
• 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.
• Holy Cross comes to Lewisburg feeling good after a 70-66 home win over Army West Point on Wednesday. The Crusaders have also beaten Loyola at home and are 2-5 in Patriot League play. Holy Cross won at Sacred Heart in the season opener, but have dropped seven straight road games since then. Jehyve Floyd has developed into one of the league’s top frontcourt players. He leads the team in scoring (10.9), rebounding (5.7), blocked shots (1.3) and field-goal percentage (.664). Karl Charles (10.0) also scores in double figures.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Holy Cross game will be televised locally on WQMY-TV in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market. Joe Vasile (play-by-play), former Bison great Abe Badmus (color) and Erin Dugan (sideline) will call the action. 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 handling the play-by-play. 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 BucknellBison.com.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
Last Time Out
• Zach Thomas recorded 25 points and 12 rebounds, lifting Bucknell to another come-from-behind road win, 78-70 at Loyola on Wednesday night at Reitz Arena. Bucknell’s fifth straight win, coupled with a loss by Boston University to American, gave the Bison sole possession of first place in the Patriot League.
• Bucknell made its final 18 free throws and went 10-for-10 at the foul line in the final 1:18 to seal its 12th win in the last 16.
• Bucknell came into the game ranked 12th in the nation in second-half scoring at 44.1 points per game, and the Bison hung 50 in this one after trailing 33-28 at the break. The Bison shot 55.6% from the field and hit 19 of 21 free throws in the second stanza.
• Loyola, which had been 5-2 at home this season, led by as many as nine late in the first half. But the Bison held them scoreless over the final 2:20 while scoring the final four points of the period, then they tallied the first six of the second half, taking a 34-33 lead when Brown came up with a steal and layup with a defender draped all over him. That would be the first of six second-half lead changes — there were 11 in the game along with eight ties — as the momentum switched back and forth numerous times.
• Loyola guard Andre Walker, who was coming off a 43-point game against Lafayette, finished with 21 points on 8-for-23 shooting, 3-for-10 from the arc. The Greyhounds shot 43.3% from the field and went 6-for-18 from the arc and 12-for-18 from the foul line.
• Bucknell overcame 22 turnovers by shooting 49.1% to go with a strong 22-for-26 at the foul line. Thomas, the national leader in made free throws, went 12-for-13 at the stripe en route to his ninth double-double and 12th 20-point game of the season.
• Led by Thomas and Foulland, Bucknell piled up a 40-25 rebounding edge and blocked eight shots. The Bison also forced 17 turnovers of their own and only trailed 33-27 in points off turnovers.
• The Bison also welcomed Avi Toomer back to the lineup after a 16-game injury absence. The sophomore played 14 minutes and hit a big second-half 3-pointer on his lone shot attempt.
Bucknell vs. Holy Cross
The Bucknell-Holy Cross rivalry has been one of the league’s best through the years. Some of the highlights:
• The Bison and Crusaders have combined to win 10 of the last 17 Patriot League titles.
• These two teams have met 15 times in the 27 Patriot League Tournaments, with Holy Cross winning eight and Bucknell seven. That includes four times in the championship game. Bucknell defeated Holy Cross in the 2005 and 2006 title tilts, while the Crusaders topped the Bison in the final in 1993 and 2007.
• The Bison and Crusaders had never met until the formation of the Patriot League in 1990-91, but this will be the 70th meeting in 28 years.
• Bucknell leads the series 40-29. The road team has won just nine of the last 24.
• Bucknell is 21-11 against Holy Cross in Lewisburg and 14-5 at Sojka Pavilion. Bucknell is 15-15 vs. Holy Cross at the Hart Center, with one of the wins coming in the 2005 Patriot League championship game.
• The Bison swept the Crusaders last season. In the first meeting in Worcester, Bucknell never trailed and won 68-49 behind 17 points and eight boards from Nana Foulland. The Bison piled up a 41-21 rebounding edge and shot 52.9% for the game. Patrick Benzan led Holy Cross with 15 points. In the rematch at Sojka Pavilion, Zach Thomas scored a then-career-high 27 points, Kimbal Mackenzie added 17 points and seven assists, and Bucknell rode a big first half to an 82-68 win. Robert Champion led the Crusaders with 19 points, while Benzan had 15. Benzan scored 30 points on 12-for-14 shooting (3-for-3 3FG) against the Bison last season.
• Thomas has played seven career games against Holy Cross and is 28-for-41 (.683) from the field and 14-for-19 (.737) from 3-point range while averaging 14.6 ppg.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 271-116 (.700) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. The Bison last season compiled at least a .500 record in PL play for the 23rd time in 27 Patriot League seasons.
• Bucknell won three straight outright Patriot League regular-season titles from 2011-13, becoming the first team in league history to accomplish that feat. The Bison have now won another three in a row and six of the last seven.
• Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Bucknell is 96-25 (.793) in Patriot League play.
• Bucknell has won 11 Patriot League regular-season titles in 27 years. No other team has more than five.
• Last year Bucknell made its eighth Patriot League Tournament appearance as the No. 1 seed.
• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011, 2013 and 2017. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 20 times and to the championship game 11 times in the 27-year history of the league.
• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 80.5 points per game (49th nationally), but the Bison have also given up the second-most points (77.8) in the league (295th nationally). The Bison are scoring 1.08 and allowing 1.04 points per possession on the season.
• Bucknell has ramped up the defense in Patriot League play, however. The Bison have limited six of their seven PL foes to 70 points or fewer in regulation, including holding Colgate to a season-low 51 on Monday. In PL games only, Bucknell is yielding only 0.89 points per possession, as opponents are shooting just 38.4% overall and 30.7% from the arc.
• Bucknell is averaging 44.4 points in the second halves of games this season, the eighth-best figure in the country. That figure jumps to 49.4 ppg at home, which is the second-highest figure in the country.
• Bucknell’s first half vs. second half production has been even more pronounced in Patriot League play, where the Bison are averaging nearly 16 more points per game in the second half than the first.
FIRST HALF SECOND HALF
PL Opponent Points FG% Turnovers Points FG% Turnovers
American 35 .500 7 49 .679 3
Boston U. 30 .458 14 49 .417 5
at Army 37 .464 9 46 .552 10
at Lafayette 31 .250 4 39 .516 2
Lehigh 28 .333 6 50 .485 5
at Colgate 23 .296 14 40 .462 4
at Loyola 28 .423 12 50 .556 10
Average 30.3 .383 9.4 46.1 .519 5.6
• The Bison are 9-1 when scoring 80 or more points, but 3-7 when scoring fewer than 80. The lone exceptions to the 80-point rule are a 93-81 loss at North Carolina and the three most recent wins over Lehigh (78-65), Colgate (63-51) and Loyola (78-70).
• Stephen Brown is averaging 16.6 ppg in his last five games and 14.4 ppg in Patriot League play. The senior is taking more shots than at any other point in his career. Brown is averaging 11.3 FGA per game this season, nearly three more attempts above his previous career high of 8.6 last year.
• Nate Sestina has been productive off the bench for the Bison. He is averaging 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 17.6 ppg and 10.8 rpg.
• Bucknell is shooting 50.4% from the field at home this season and 44.0% on the road.
• 28.2% of Bucknell’s offensive plays have resulted in free throws, which is the 41st-highest rate in the country.
• Zach Thomas ranks sixth nationally in defensive rebounds per game at 8.2. He is averaging a double-double (19.4 ppg/11.1 rpg) in Patriot League play.
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Thomas ranks 54th out of all Division I players with a score of 26.85. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell is back on the road again next week, visiting Navy on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Boston University on Sunday at noon. The latter contest will be televised on CBS Sports Network.