What: Loyola (8-17, 6-8 PL) at Bucknell (18-9, 12-2 PL)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, 7 p.m. (ET)
Watch Live: 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 (13.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.6 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (7.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.4 apg)
F: Avi Toomer (5.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.8 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (21.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.3 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg)
With a Win over Loyola, Bucknell Would ...
• ... clinch the Patriot League regular-season title and No. 1 seed for the Patriot League Tournament for the seventh time in the last eight years.
• ... improve to 19-9 overall, 13-2 in the Patriot League and 11-1 at home this season.
• ... win its sixth straight home game.
• ... win its 15th in the last 17, and 19th in its last 24.
• ... sweep the season series from the Greyhounds and improve to 15-3 all-time against them.
• ... improve to 62-32 under Nathan Davis.
• ... improve to 103-26 in Patriot League play since the start of the 2010-11 season.
• ... improve to 118-26 against Patriot League foes in Sojka Pavilion.
• After an incredible comeback win over Colgate on Monday night, Bucknell is now in position to clinch yet another Patriot League regular-season title. The Bison have a three-game lead over second-place Colgate with four games remaining. A victory over Loyola would clinch at least a share of the title, and since Bucknell swept Colgate this season, the Bison would own the tiebreaker.
• Bucknell is trying to win its seventh PL regular-season title in the last eight years. The current run of six outright (no ties) regular-season championships in seven years is only equalled by Kansas and Belmont in Division I basketball. Kansas is currently one game behind Texas Tech in the Big 12, while Belmont is tied for first with Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference.
• Bucknell’s win over Colgate on Monday was one for the ages. The Bison just could not get anything going offensively, and the Raiders had a 10-point lead and possession of the ball as the clocked ticked under a minute to play. It was still an eight-point game after a Sean O’Brien free throw with 33 seconds left, but the Bison scored nine straight points in the final 21 seconds, capped by a Kimbal Mackenzie 3-pointer at the buzzer, to win it 65-64.
• Dating back to mid-December, the Bison have won 14 of their last 16 games, and they are 18-5 since starting the season with consecutive road losses at Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland.
• Bucknell has trailed at the half in five of its 12 Patriot League victories. The biggest comeback came on Jan. 31, when the Bison fell behind by 19 with 5:00 left in the first half, cut it to 10 by halftime, then rallied to beat Army West Point 83-71 in overtime. The 19-point deficit was the largest the Bison have overcome in a victory this season. Bucknell trailed by as many as 14 points with 12:45 to play on Monday against Colgate.
• The Bison have been getting it done with defense. In Patriot League play, Bucknell is holding opponents to 40.1% shooting from the field and 32.5% from the 3-point arc while yielding only 68.1 points per game and 0.93 points per possession. The Bison are also +4.2 on the glass and are averaging 5.1 blocks per game.
• Stephen Brown, a veteran of 110 consecutive starts at point guard, has played some of the best ball of his career in recent weeks, particularly in two recent road wins. Brown scored a career-high 27 points, hitting 7 of 9 from long distance, at Navy, 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 14.9 ppg clip in Patriot League play, the eighth-best mark in the league.
• Zach Thomas is enjoying a monster senior year, averaging 21.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Thomas, who was named to the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award mid-season watch list, is one of four Division I players currently leading his conference in both scoring and rebounding:
PLAYERS LEADING A CONFERENCE IN SCORING AND REBOUNDING
Zach Thomas, Bucknell (PL) 21.7 ppg/9.3 rpg
Marvin Bagley III, Duke (ACC) 21.2 ppg/11.4 rpg
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s (WCC) 22.0 ppg/10.7 rpg
Mike Daum, South Dakota State (Summit) 23.3 ppg/10.0 rpg
• Thomas has attempted 10 or more free throws in a game 12 times this season. Only counting his made free throws (7.2 per game), Thomas would be the 46th-leading scorer in the Patriot League. Thomas already ranks in the top five on Bucknell’s single-season charts for made and attempted free throws.
• Thomas has earned six Patriot League Player of the Week honors, giving Bucknell seven this season (Nana Foulland has the other). Thomas has 15 20-point games (including four 30-point games) on the season, headlined by a 38-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist gem at Stony Brook on Nov. 26 and last week’s 36-point, 13-rebound effort at Lehigh. Thomas now ranks 17th nationally in scoring, 37th in rebounding, ninth in defensive rebounding, first in both free throw attempts and made free throws (through Monday’s games).
• Bucknell’s three seniors — Stephen Brown, Nana Foulland and Zach Thomas — all rank in the top 11 in the Patriot League scoring race. They are averaging a combined 50.9 points per game and are accounting for 63.2% 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 Zach Thomas.
• After winning back-to-back games against Lehigh and Army, the Greyhounds have dropped three of their last four to fall into a four-way tie for sixth place in the Patriot League at 6-8. Most recently, Loyola fell 84-67 at Lafayette on Sunday. Loyola has five players averaging in double figures in the scoring column, led by all-league guard Andre Walker at 16.7 points per game. Cam Gregory scores 12.0 ppg and is the league’s second-leading rebounder behind Zach Thomas at 8.1 per game. The Bison will have to be alert for ball-hawking wing Andrew Kostecka, who leads the Patriot League in steals at 2.3 per game. He had six thefts against Bucknell when the two teams met in Baltimore last month.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Loyola game will not be televised, however a live webcast will be available 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
• Kimbal Mackenzie drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer, capping a dramatic 65-64 comeback victory for the Bison over Colgate on Monday night in a battle of the Patriot League’s top two teams at Sojka Pavilion. The first-place Bison, trailing 64-56, scored nine straight points in the final 21 seconds, punctuated by Mackenzie’s three right in front of the Bison bench.
• Mackenzie started the run by scoring on a put-back jumper in the paint and drawing a foul. He converted the free throw, and the Bison defense forced a Colgate turnover on the inbounds play. Mackenzie had his ensuing 3-point attempt blocked, but he grabbed his own miss and fed Nana Foulland for a layup. The Raiders were called for a flagrant foul on the play, leading to two free throw attempts for Foulland and possession of the ball for the Bison. Foulland split a pair at the line, cutting the Colgate lead to 64-62 with 11 seconds remaining.
• After a Bison timeout, all five players touched the ball. Zach Thomas looked inside to Foulland, who kicked the ball out to Stephen Brown at the top of the key. Brown swung the ball to Bruce Moore, who then passed to Mackenzie in the corner. The ball was deflected on the way, but Mackenzie made a nice one-handed catch on the short hop, and with a defender flying out at him, he swished the game-winner. Mackenzie was immediately swarmed by his teammates on the bench, and they were soon joined by the students storming the court.
• Thomas led the Bison with 18 points, while Foulland registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Mackenzie and Brown scored 11 each. Jordan Robertson led Colgate with 11 points off the bench, while Will Rayman had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
• This was a defensive struggle for most of the night, and it was Colgate with the upper hand throughout. The Raiders led for 37:54 of the 40 minutes, using an early 15-4 to go up 19-9 midway through the opening half. uColgate held the Bison to a season-low 20 points in the first half and led by 11 at the break, and the Raiders would go up by as many as 14 at 40-26 after a Rayman 3-pointer with 12:45 to go.
• After shooting 25.0% (6-24) in the first half, the Bison shot 53.6% (15-28) in a 45-point second half, hitting 12 of 20 shots in the final 12:18.
• Bucknell limited Colgate to 41.5% shooting, including 6 of 19 from the arc. The Raiders were 14-for-16 from the foul line, while Bucknell was 17-for-23.
Bucknell vs. Loyola
• The Bison and Greyhounds have met 17 times previously, with Bucknell leading 14-3 in the series, including an 8-1 mark at Reitz Arena.
• Bucknell had beaten Loyola eight straight times, including a 7-0 mark as Patriot League rivals, until the Greyhounds won 78-77 in Baltimore last season.
• The first series meeting came on Jan. 7, 1987 in Lewisburg. The Bison prevailed that day 72-70. A year later Bucknell won 80-60 on Loyola’s home floor.
• Bucknell and Loyola played twice within the 1992-93 season. The Bison won 75-59 in Baltimore, and in late February at Davis Gym the Bison rolled to a 116-85 victory. In the latter game the Bison produced their second-highest point total in program history, led by an incredible 9-for-10 3-point shooting performance by Hall-of-Famer Mike Bright.
• Bucknell and Loyola split the season series last year. At Sojka Pavilion, the Bison shot a blistering 72.0% from the field in the first half en route to a 76-63 win. Zach Thomas paced the Bison with 18 points (8-10 FG) and 11 rebounds. In the rematch at Reitz Arena, Loyola used a Jared Jones fadeaway jumper with 45 seconds left to prevail 78-77. Jones had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the game. Nana Foulland had 17 points for the Bison, who rallied from 15 points down to take the lead before Loyola won it in the final minute.
• In this season’s earlier meeting on Jan. 17 at Reitz Arena, Zach Thomas recorded 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Bison to a come-from-behind, 78-70 win. Bucknell outscored Loyola 50-37 after trailing 33-28 at the half.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 277-117 (.703) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. The Bison are guaranteed at least a .500 record in PL play for the 24th time in 28 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 102-26 (.797) 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 77 of his 82 career starts, including all but one this season.
• Bucknell is 25-3 in the month of January under head coach Nathan Davis.
• The Bison are 11-2 this season, 33-3 over the last two seasons, and 47-7 in the Davis era when leading at the half.
• Bucknell is averaging 43.3 points in the second halves of games this season, the 17th-best figure in the country. That figure jumps to 45.9 ppg at home, which ranks ninth in the nation.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 80.6 points per game (43rd nationally), but the Bison have also given up the second-most points (75.7) in the league (266th nationally). The Bison are scoring 1.09 and allowing 1.02 points per possession on the season.
• The Bison are 12-2 when scoring 80 or more points, but 5-7 when scoring fewer than 80. The team’s lone losses when scoring 80 were a 93-81 setback at North Carolina on Nov. 15 and a 92-89 overtime loss at Lehigh on Feb. 5.
• Stephen Brown is averaging 15.4 ppg in Patriot League play. The senior is taking more shots than at any other point in his career. Brown is averaging 10.9 FGA per game this season, more than two 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 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 16.2 ppg and 10.2 rpg.
• Bucknell is shooting 47.9% from the field at home this season and 45.3% on the road, even though it has shot much better from the 3-point arc on the road (35.5% compared to 31.9% at Sojka Pavilion).
• 28.6% of Bucknell’s offensive plays have resulted in free throws, which is the 23rd-highest rate in the country. Bucknell’s 647 free-throw attempts are sixth-most in the nation.
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Zach Thomas ranks 26th out of all Division I players with a score of 27.96. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell travels to Holy Cross for a noon start on Saturday at the Hart Center. The game will air on the Patriot League Network and Stadium TV. The Bison defeated the Crusaders 77-56 back on Jan. 20 at Sojka Pavilion.