What: Army West Point (12-9, 5-5 PL) at Bucknell (15-8, 9-1 PL)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, 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 (14.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.5 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (6.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.5 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (5.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg)
F: Zach Thomas (20.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.4 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg)
With a Win over Army, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 16-8 overall, 10-1 in the Patriot League and 8-1 at home this season.
• ... maintain at least a two-game lead in the Patriot League.
• ... win its ninth straight game, which would be its longest since a 12-game streak in 2011-12.
• ... beat the Black Knights for the ninth straight time.
• ... also win its 12th in the last 13, and 16th in its last 20.
• ... improve to 59-31 under Nathan Davis and give Davis his 200th career win as a head coach.
• ... improve to 100-25 in Patriot League play since the start of the 2010-11 season.
• Winners of eight straight games after a convincing 91-79 verdict at Boston University on Sunday, the Bison are suddenly one of the hottest teams in the country. Dating back to mid-December, they have won 11 of their last 12 games, and they are 15-4 since starting the season with consecutive road losses at Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland. Bucknell has also captured seven straight road wins, the second-longest active streak in the nation and one shy of the school record set in 1974-75, when Jim Valvano was head coach.
• Bucknell is one of 32 teams in the country with either zero or one conference loss. The Bison took a two-game lead in the Patriot League race with Sunday’s critical win at second-place Boston University. A loss would have created a tie for first place and given the Terriers a season sweep and the tiebreaker advantage.
• The Bison just concluded a stretch of six out of eight games on the road, and they won them all. Now Bucknell has five of their next seven at home.
• Bucknell jumped back into the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major rankings at No. 24 this week.
• The Bison have been getting it done with defense of late. In Patriot League play, Bucknell is holding opponents to 39.3% shooting from the field and 30.6% from the 3-point arc while yielding only 66.8 points per game and 0.91 points per possession. The Bison are also +5.5 on the glass and are averaging 5.5 blocks per game.
• Offensively, Bucknell averages a league-best 80.0 points per game in league play, even though at times it has struggled with 3-point shooting (.333) and turnovers (13.7 per game).
• Bucknell is getting 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 Jan. 15. Sophomore Avi Toomer missed 16 games with a leg injury before returning to the rotation at Loyola on Jan. 17. Toomer is 7-for-11 from 3-point range and is averaging 7.8 points in 15.8 minutes per game since returning. Reserve guard Matt O'Reilly has missed the last six contests with a foot injury and is out 4-6 weeks.
• Stephen Brown, a veteran of 106 consecutive starts, has played some of the best ball of his career in recent weeks, particularly in the two road wins last week. Brown scored a career-high 27 points, hitting 7 of 9 from long distance, at Navy last Wednesday, and he tallied 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals at Boston University. Brown did not commit a turnover or a foul in either game while scoring 48 points in 57 minutes. Brown is scoring at a 15.8 ppg clip in Patriot League play, the seventh-best mark in the league.
• Zach Thomas is enjoying a monster senior year, averaging 20.8 points and 9.3 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 three Division I players currently leading his conference in both scoring and rebounding:
PLAYERS LEADING A CONFERENCE IN SCORING AND REBOUNDING
Zach Thomas, Bucknell (PL) 20.8 ppg/9.3 rpg
Marvin Bagley III, Duke (ACC) 21.5 ppg/11.4 rpg
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s (WCC) 22.1 ppg/10.4 rpg
• Thomas has earned five Patriot League Player of the Week honors, giving Bucknell six 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 29th nationally in scoring, 31st in rebounding, seventh in defensive rebounding, first in free throw attempts and third in made free throws (through Monday’s games).
• Thomas has attempted 10 or more free throws in a game 10 times this season. Only counting his made free throws (7.0 per game), Thomas would be the 47th-leading scorer in the Patriot League.
2017-18 NCAA LEADERS, FREE THROW ATTEMPTS
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 210
- Bryson Scott, Fort Wayne 196
- Jon Elmore, Marshall 194
- Nick Dixon, UTRGV 189
- Garrison Mathews, Lipscomb 188
2017-18 NCAA LEADERS, DEFENSIVE REBOUNDS
- Iba Camara, New Hampshire 8.68
- Devontae Cacok, UNC Wilmington 8.64
- Leland Kingil, UCSB 8.43
- Alize Johnson, Missouri State 8.39
- Deandre Ayton, Arizona 8.18
- Mike Watkins, Penn State 7.95
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 7.87
• Bucknell’s three seniors — Stephen Brown, Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas — all rank in the top nine in the Patriot League scoring race. They are averaging a combined 50.7 points per game and are accounting for 62.6% 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.
• Army West Point sits in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Patriot League, joining Loyola and Navy at 5-5. The Black Knights have gone 4-3 since falling at home to Bucknell on Jan. 5, but they have lost two straight and three of their last four on the heels of a three-game winning streak. Last time out, Army fell 79-68 at Loyola on Saturday. Army is the fastest-paced team in the Patriot League and has seven players averaging at least five points per game. Jordan Fox leads the team in scoring at 14.6 ppg, followed by Matt Wilson (13.0) and Tommy Funk (10.3). Funk is the older brother of Bucknell recruit Andrew Funk, who will join the Bison next season.
• Bucknell head coach Nathan Davis and Army second-year head coach Jimmy Allen were both members of Don DeVoe’s coaching staff at Navy from 1998-2002.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Army West Point game game will not be televised, however the game will 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
• Stephen Brown turned in another virtuoso performance on Sunday, leading first-place Bucknell to a 91-79 win over second-place Boston University at Case Gym. The victory helped the Bison open up a two-game lead over the Terriers and Colgate in the league standings.
• Coming off a career-high 27-point game in an 87-67 win at Navy, Brown had 21 in this one, to go with five rebounds, five assists, and four steals. In the two road wins last week, Brown logged 48 points, seven assists, four steals, no turnovers and no fouls.
• Brown had plenty of support from the rest of the Bison cast. Zach Thomas tallied 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, Nana Foulland had 15 points in just 15 minutes while battling foul trouble, and reserves Nate Sestina and Avi Toomer chipped in eight points apiece.
• Bucknell shot 57.4% from the field and posted its highest point total in a road game this season. The Bison led by as many as 23 points in the second half and were able to clear the bench early. Boston University made the final score respectable with a 12-2 run in the final 2:45 again the Bison reserves.
• With Foulland in foul trouble, Sestina and Paul Newman gave the Bison important minutes off the bench. Sestina had eight points, four rebounds and a blocked shot in 25 minutes, and Newman notched his first career field goal, grabbed two rebounds and played strong post defense in his six minutes of action.
• After shooting 53.3% in the first half, the Bison were even better in the second. They shot 61.3% (19-31), including 4 of 10 from the arc.
• In the first meeting between the two teams, Bucknell struggled with turnovers against the Boston University zone and fell 84-79 at Sojka Pavilion, This time, the Bison had only 11 turnovers and managed 46 points in the paint.
• The Bison held the Terriers to 38.7% shooting in the first half while building the double-digit lead. Boston University finished at 45.7%, boosted by that late flurry, and hit 6 of 12 from the arc. Walter Whyte led the team with 14 points, while Tyler Scanlon scored 10 of his 12 points in the first 7:26 of the game.
Bucknell vs. Army West Point
• The Bison hold a 55-21 lead in a series that dates back to 1929. Bucknell has won the last eight meetings, sweeping the series in each of the last three years plus a victory in the first meeting of this season. That includes a three-game sweep last season, as Bucknell won 78-62 in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal round.
• The Bison are 31-5 all-time at home against Army.
• Army won the first 10 series showdowns, nine of them coming prior to 1966.
• As Patriot League rivals, Bucknell has won 54 of 65 meetings.
• In Patriot League Tournament action, Bucknell is 8-2 against Army. Eight of those 10 postseason meetings have come in the quarterfinals, including Army’s 72-71 win at Sojka Pavilion in 2014, which was its most recent victory over the Bison.
• Bucknell won all three games last season by at least eight points. In the first meeting at Sojka Pavilion, Bucknell won 84-76 behind 20 points and 12 rebounds from Nana Foulland. In the rematch at West Point on Jan. 28, Bucknell posted its highest scoring total of the season in a 96-75 win. It was Bucknell’s highest point total against Army since a 98-72 win in Davis Gym in 1994, Charlie Woollum’s final season as head coach, and it was the team’s top output ever in a game at West Point. Bucknell’s Patriot League title run began with a 78-62 quarterfinal win over the Black Knights. The Bison held Army to 19% shooting in the first half en route to a commanding 36-18 lead.
• In this season’s first meeting on Jan. 5, Bucknell won 83-66 at Christl Arena. On a night when top scorers Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland were kept in check in the points column, Stephen Brown, Bruce Moore and Ben Robertson had big games, and Bucknell used depth, defense, and 3-point shooting to race past Army. Brown logged 19 points and five assists, and Moore hit four treys and tossed in 17 points. Robertson, helping to make up for some of the lost production from the injured Nate Sestina, scored a career-high 11 points. Jimmy Sotos added 13 points and a career-high five steals. The Bison had nine steals and eight blocked shots on the night, and they held the high-scoring Black Knights to a season-low-tying 66 points on 37.1% shooting. Even though Thomas (4) and Foulland (8) were held to a combined 12 points, both still had major impacts on the game. Thomas grabbed 10 rebounds, and Foulland had eight rebounds, four blocked shots, two assists and two steals. He altered numerous other shots, and offensively his presence in the paint left shooters open left and right, leading to a season-high 14 treys.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 274-116 (.703) 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 99-25 (.798) 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
• Zach Thomas has scored in double figures in 73 of his 78 career starts, including all but one this season.
• Bucknell is 24-3 in the month of January under head coach Nathan Davis.
• The Bison are 10-1 this season, 32-2 over the last two seasons, and 46-6 in the Davis era when leading at the half. Bucknell's only two losses over the last two seasons when leading at halftime came earlier this year at Maryland and last year at La Salle.
• Bucknell is averaging 44.2 points in the second halves of games this season, the ninth-best figure in the country. That figure jumps to 48.4 ppg at home, which is tied with Villanova for the highest figure in the country.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 81.1 points per game (42nd nationally), but the Bison have also given up the second-most points (76.4) in the league (279th nationally). The Bison are scoring 1.09 and allowing 1.03 points per possession on the season.
• Bucknell has ramped up the defense in Patriot League play, however. The Bison have allowed 70 points or fewer in regulation in eight of their 10 PL games, with both exceptions coming against Boston University. In PL games only, Bucknell is yielding only 0.91 points per possession, as opponents are shooting just 39.3% overall and 30.6% from the arc.
• The Bison are 11-1 when scoring 80 or more points, but 4-7 when scoring fewer than 80. The team’s lone loss when scoring 80 was a 93-81 setback at North Carolina on Nov. 15.
• Stephen Brown is averaging 17.6 ppg in his last eight games and 15.9 ppg in Patriot League play. The senior is taking more shots than at any other point in his career. Brown is averaging 11.5 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 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 16.6 ppg and 10.3 rpg.
• Bucknell is shooting 49.6% from the field at home this season and 45.9% on the road.
• 28.2% of Bucknell’s offensive plays have resulted in free throws, which is the 34th-highest rate in the country. Bucknell’s 540 free-throw attempts are ninth-most in the nation.
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Zach Thomas ranks 29th out of all Division I players with a score of 28.00. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell starts off the month of February at home on Saturday against Lafayette at 7 p.m. It will be the 14th Annual Dirk Sojka’s Slam Dunk with Bison Basketball. There will be a raffle and silent auction along with many other activities, will all proceeds going to benefit Suncom Industries. Earlier in the day will be the annual Alumni Game, and the contest will air live on Stadium TV.