What: Bucknell (11-5, 3-0 PL) at Holy Cross (8-8, 2-1 PL)
Where: Hart Center, Worcester, Mass.
When: Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, 1 p.m.
Webcast: Patriot League Network
Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Internet Radio: BucknellBison.com
Live Statistics: GoHolyCross.com
• COMPLETE GAME NOTES
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (9.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.7 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (10.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.1 apg)
G: Avi Toomer (2.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.5 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (16.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.6 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (14.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
With a Win over Holy Cross, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 12-5 overall, 4-0 in the Patriot League, and 5-4 on the road this season.
• ... start 4-0 in Patriot League play for the second year in a row and eighth time overall.
• ... remain in at least a tie for first atop the Patriot League standings.
• ... win at the Hart Center for the second straight year.
• ... improve to 254-112 all-time in Patriot League regular-season games.
• Bucknell looks to keep its road resurgence going on Sunday when it travels to Holy Cross for a 1 p.m. start. The Bison have won twice on the road in Patriot League play to even their season record at 4-4 in opposing arenas.
• Bucknell and Boston University are the only 3-0 Patriot League teams. The Bison came from 13 points down in the second half to beat Navy 59-55 in the PL opener, they topped Army West Point 84-76 in Lewisburg, and then on Thursday they staged another second-half rally to beat American 69-60.
• Junior center Nana Foulland was named Patriot League Player of the Week on Tuesday after recording double-doubles against both of the service academies. Foulland had 12 points and 12 rebounds at Navy and 20 points and 12 boards against Army. This is his second league honor of the season.
• Sophomore guard Kimbal Mackenzie is averaging 18.7 points per game in Patriot League play, the fifth-best mark in the league. He has three 20-point games this season, two of them coming against PL foes Navy (22) and American (24). In both games, Mackenzie was the catalyst in big comebacks on the road. He had 19 second-half points to help the Bison rally from 11 points down to beat Navy, and on Thursday he scored 18 after halftime as Bucknell came from seven points down to defeat American.
• Bucknell had used the same starting lineup in each of the first 13 games this season, but a left foot injury to sophomore guard Nate Jones necessitated a lineup change in the Navy game. Freshman Avi Toomer made his first career start. After a quiet night statistically against the Midshipmen, Toomer broke out with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals — all career highs — in the victory over Army.
• Bucknell went 8-5 against a tough non-conference schedule, including a 4-1 mark at home. This was Bucknell’s most successful pre-conference slate since 2012-13, when the Bison went 13-3 before the start of Patriot League action.
• Bucknell closed the month of November with a four-game winning streak that consisted of victories over Vanderbilt, Norfolk State, Northern Colorado and Richmond. The middle two came in Las Vegas, where the Bison claimed the “Upper Division” title at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The 75-72 victory over Vanderbilt was the team’s first win over a Southeastern Conference team since 2006, when it took down Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the first victory over a “major conference” team since 2013-14, when Bucknell won at Penn State.
• Junior forward Zach Thomas leads the team and ranks No. 5 in the Patriot League in scoring at 16.0 points per game. Thomas also ranks second on the team in assists and rebounds from his power forward position. Thomas had 25 points against Manhattan in the season opener, and he has been on triple-double watch on two occasions. He registered 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against Robert Morris on Nov. 16, and he had 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and three steals the win over Mount St. Mary’s. Thomas had scored in double figures in 15 straight games before being held to five at Navy, but he came up with two critical buckets in the final three minutes to key Bucknell’s comeback. He bounced back with 19 points in the win over Army and 16 at American.
• Foulland now averages 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He ranks in the top seven in the Patriot League in four different statistical categories, including first in blocks (2.1), second in field-goal percentage (.622) and rebounding, and eighth in scoring. Foulland has seven double-doubles this season.
• The Bison were picked to finish third (behind Lehigh and Boston University) in the Patriot League in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Foulland was named to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team.
• Bucknell and Holy Cross will be meeting for the first time since the Crusaders upset the top-seeded Bison 77-72 in double overtime in last year’s Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals. Holy Cross then won twice more to claim the championship.
• Holy Cross returned four starters from that title-winning team and is 8-8 overall and 2-1 in conference play thus far. The Crusaders have won two straight and four of their last five, including a 67-61 win at Colgate on Thursday. Malachi Alexander leads the team in both scoring (14.3) and rebounding (5.6). Robert Champion is also in double figures at 13.7 ppg.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Holy Cross game will not be televised, however a free 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 (107.3 WEGH), with Doug Birdsong calling the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• The audio feed is also available online via BucknellBison.com (personal computers) and the official Bucknell Athletics app (iPhone and Android devices).
• Live stats can be found at GoHolyCross.com.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
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 nine of the last 16 Patriot League titles.
• These two teams have met 15 times in the 26 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 68th meeting in 27 years.
• Bucknell leads the series 38-29. The road team has won just eight of the last 22, including Holy Cross’ upset of the Bison in the 2016 Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals at Sojka Pavilion.
• Bucknell is 20-11 against Holy Cross in Lewisburg and 13-5 at Sojka Pavilion. Bucknell is 14-15 vs. Holy Cross at the Hart Center, with one of the wins coming in the 2005 Patriot League championship game.
• The Bison swept the regular-season series from Holy Cross in convincing fashion last season. Bucknell won 98-71 at Sojka Pavilion, led by seven 3-pointers and a career-high 21 points from John Azzinaro. The Bison went 16-for-25 from the arc in that game. At the Hart Center Bucknell turned to its inside game, getting 22 points from Nana Foulland in a 77-52 victory.
• Those two blowouts were distant memories by the time Holy Cross returned to Lewisburg for the Patriot League Tournament Quarterfinals in March. The ninth-seeded Crusaders defeated the top-seeded Bison 77-72 in double overtime, made possible by a miraculous turnaround 3-pointer by Robert Champion at the final buzzer of the first overtime period. Bucknell attempted a school-record 39 3-pointers, hitting 10, and also committed 17 turnovers. Malachi Alexander led Holy Cross with 20 points, while Zach Thomas had 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Bison.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 253-112 (.693) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. The Bison have finished at least .500 in PL play in 22 of the 26 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 five of the last six, after claiming titles in 2015 and 2016 as well.
• Bucknell has won 10 Patriot League regular-season titles in 26 years. No other team has more than five.
• Last year Bucknell made its seventh Patriot League Tournament appearance as the No. 1 seed.
• The Bison went 13-1 in the league in 2011 and 12-2 in both 2012 and 2013, making them 37-5 over those three campaigns. Dating back to mid-2010, Bucknell has won 85 of its last 108 league games.
• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2013. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 19 times and to the championship game 10 times in the 25-year history of the league.
• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).
Last Time Out
• Kimbal Mackenzie scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and keyed a terrific finish for Bucknell at the free-throw line, helping the Bison rally past American 69-60 on Thursday night at Bender Arena.
• Zach Thomas scored 16 points, right on his season average, and Nana Foulland overcame foul trouble to finish with 11 points. Point guard Stephen Brown added nine points, a game-high seven rebounds, and four assists for the Bison, who outscored American 25-10 over an eight-minute stretch in the latter part of the second half to flip a five-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
• Bucknell trailed 30-26 at the half and 41-36 at the 10-minute mark, then controlled play the rest of the way. American made a few tough shots in the lane in the lane in the final minute to force Bucknell to win it from the free-throw line, and the Bison responded by hitting their final 10 charity tosses and 17 of their last 19.
• Mackenzie finished 11-for-11 from the foul line, making him the first Bison to have a perfect night with at least 10 attempts since Chris Hass went 12-for-12 against American last year in Sojka Pavilion.
• Bucknell avenged last season’s loss in Bender Arena and improved to 3-0 in league play for the 10th time in the Patriot League era, dating back to 1990-91. In that loss in D.C. last season, the Bison went 0-for-15 from 3-point range, their first game without a triple since 2004. Bucknell missed its first five attempts in this one before Mackenzie finally connected at the 12:25 mark of the second half.
• While two Thomas 3-pointers late in the game were critical, the Bison did not rely on perimeter shots in this one. They scored 36 points in the paint and a season-high 22 (in 31 attempts) at the foul line. The 55% shooting from the field was also the best of the campaign.
• American was just 5-for-19 from the arc, including 2-for-12 in the second half. The Eagles went 11-for-15 from the foul line one game after making 13 of 31 in an overtime victory at Colgate.
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell has allowed 81.2 points per game in its five losses and 64.2 ppg in its 11 victories.
• Bucknell has posted its three biggest comeback victories on the road this season. They overcame deficits of 13 (Navy), 11 (Vanderbilt) and seven (American) to pull out good wins away from home.
• Bucknell’s starting frontcourt of Zach Thomas (16.0 ppg) and Nana Foulland (14.7 ppg) have scored 41.6% of the team’s points on the season.
• Bucknell’s transition defense has been strong thus far. The Bison have given up only 55 fastbreak points through 16 games. They went three straight contests (Vanderbilt, Norfolk State, Northern Colorado) without giving up any fastbreak points. Meanwhile, Bucknell has scored 102 fastbreak points on the season.
• Matt O’Reilly has attempted 104 shots during his career at Bucknell. Of those, 99 have come from beyond the 3-point arc. He is 2-for-5 in his career on 2-point shots, with his first make coming against Richmond earlier this season.
• Kimbal Mackenzie is averaging 15.6 points over his last five games. He is shooting 58.3 FG% and 47.6 3FG% over that span.
• Stephen Brown leads the Bison in +/- with a +111 on the season. Foulland is next at +81.
• Bison opponents have shot 50% or better from the field three times this season, and Bucknell is 0-3 in those games (Wake Forest, Butler, La Salle).
• Bucknell is averaging a solid 1.04 points per possession this season, while opponents are averaging 0.98.
• D.J. MacLeay leads the team with a total rebounding percentage of 22.9. In other words, MacLeay pulls down 22.3% of all missed shots (offensive and defensive) when he is on the floor.
• Bucknell is 82-for-105 (.781) from the foul line in the last five minutes of games this season, but just 151-for-244 (.619) in the first 35 minutes of games. Even Foulland, who is shooting 51.6% from the line on the season, is 19-for-25 (.760) in late-game situations.
• Bucknell has attempted 20 or more free throws in six straight games, and the Bison have shot 54 more free throws than their opponents this season.
• After shooting a season-low 34.0% from the field against Navy, the Bison have shot 52.5% in the next two games combined.
• Foulland recorded his 500th career rebound in the Princeton game, and he needs 58 points to reach 1,000. Only 18 players in Bucknell history have recorded 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell returns home on Wednesday to face Lehigh at 7 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion.
• The Mountain Hawks were the preseason favorite in the Patriot League, but they fell to 1-2 in league play with a last-second loss to Loyola on Thursday. Lehigh is 7-7 overall heading into Sunday’s home game against American.