**NOTE: The next Backcourt Club luncheon is slated for this Thursday (Jan. 12) at noon at La Primavera Restaurant on Rt. 45 in Lewisburg. Head coach Nathan Davis and select Bison players will be in attendance and talk abou the the season so far. The $10 admission includes a buffet lunch.**
What: Lehigh Mountain Hawks (8-7, 2-2 PL) at Bucknell (12-5, 4-0 PL)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, 7 p.m.
Webcast: Patriot League Network
Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Internet Radio: BucknellBison.com
Live Statistics: BucknellBison.com
Tickets: 570-577-1000 or Buy Online
Promotions: Superhero Night (costume contest at halftime)
• COMPLETE GAME NOTES
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (9.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.8 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (10.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)
G: Avi Toomer (2.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.5 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (15.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.7 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (14.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
With a Win over Lehigh, Bucknell Would ...
• ... capture its fifth straight victory, which would mark its longest winning streak of the season.
• ... improve to 13-5 overall, 5-0 in the Patriot League, and 6-1 at home this season.
• ... start 5-0 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.
• ... defeat the Mountain Hawks for the 102nd time, the most among all Bison opponents.
• ... improve to 255-112 all-time in Patriot League regular-season games.
• Bucknell and Lehigh, two teams that have had some memorable battles in recent years, square off at Sojka Pavilion on Wednesday in the first of two regular-season meetings. The Bison are off to a 4-0 start in Patriot League play, while the Mountain Hawks are 2-2.
• Bucknell and Boston University are the only 4-0 Patriot League teams, and they have a two-game lead on the rest of the pack. Three of Bucknell’s four league wins have come on the road, including a pair of second-half comebacks against Navy and American, as well as Sunday’s wire-to-wire 68-49 win at Holy Cross. The Bison also have a home victory over Army West Point.
• Sophomore guard Kimbal Mackenzie is averaging 16.5 points per game in Patriot League play, the seventh-best mark in the league, and he was named the Bison Athlete of the Week on Monday. 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 last Thursday he scored 18 after halftime as Bucknell came from seven points down to defeat American. Mackenzie has recorded four straight double-digit scoring games and takes a streak of 19 straight made free throws into the Lehigh game.
• 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 15.7 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 three more double-digit games since then.
• Foulland now averages 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He ranks in the top eight in the Patriot League in four different statistical categories, including first in blocks (2.1) and field-goal percentage (.631), second in rebounding, and eighth in scoring. Foulland has seven double-doubles this season and is 20-for-27 (.741) from the field over his last three games.
• 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 Lehigh both boast wins over Southeastern Conference teams this year. The Bison won 75-72 at Vanderbilt on Nov. 21, and four days later the Mountain Hawks won 87-73 at Mississippi State.
• The teams have played five common opponents thus far. Both teams defeated Mount St. Mary’s, Army West Point and American, and both lost at La Salle. The only difference is a Lehigh win over Princeton, while the Bison lost a two-point decision to the Tigers.
• Lehigh has the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year in Tim Kempton, who is averaging 21.7 points and 10.4 rebounds on the season. He is far from the Mountain Hawks’ only offensive weapon, however. Austin Price (12.5), Kahron Ross (11.9) and Kyle Leufroy (11.6) also score in double figures, and Lehigh leads the Patriot League in all three shooting percentage categories: 49.3 FG%, 40.0 3FG% and 75.5 FT%. The Mountain Hawks score a league-high 79.2 points per game, but they also give up the second-most points at 74.7.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Lehigh game will not be televised, however a free webcast will be available on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.TV. The webcast will be produced by Campus Insiders, with Matt Martucci, Craig Esherick and Morgan Uber on the call.
• 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 BucknellBison.com.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
Bucknell vs. Lehigh
• Bucknell has played more games (166) and won more games (101) against Lehigh than any other school. The Bison have a 101-65 lead in a series that originated in 1902.
• Since the start of Patriot League play in 1990-91, Bucknell holds a 41-19 advantage, including a 22-7 mark at home.
• Lehigh owns the most wins of any team over Bucknell in Sojka Pavilion (6).
• Lehigh is responsible for snapping Bucknell’s 35-game home winning streak against Patriot League foes. The Bison had not lost to a conference opponent at Sojka Pavilion in nearly five years, until the Mountain Hawks won 56-54 in Lewisburg on Jan. 30, 2008.
• Lehigh also won the first game ever played in Sojka Pavilion, a 60-56 decision on Jan. 15, 2003. Including that game, Bucknell is 10-6 against the Mountain Hawks in Sojka.
• Bucknell and Lehigh split their two meetings last season, with the road team winning both games. The Bison won the first meeting at Stabler Arena, 82-76. Chris Hass led the Bison with 21 points, while Stephen Brown added 14 points and six assists. Tim Kempton (29) and Kyle Leufroy (23) both recorded career scoring highs and combined for 52 of Lehigh’s 76 points.
In the rematch at Sojka Pavilion, the Mountain Hawks prevailed 80-65. Kempton had 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Kahron Ross had 24 points. Zach Thomas scored 17 to lead the Bison, and Nana Foulland had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Lehigh started the game 16-for-22 from the field and led 41-15 at one point in the first half.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 254-112 (.694) 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 86 of its last 109 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
• Nana Foulland had 17 points and eight rebounds, Zach Thomas tallied 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Bucknell never trailed in a 68-49 win over Holy Cross on Sunday afternoon in the Hart Center.
• Kimbal Mackenzie scored in double figures for the fourth straight game with 10 points, and Nate Sestina had 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting to go with seven rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench. Sestina helped put the game away with eight points in the final 4:38, six coming on the back end of press-breakers as the Bison ran away late and avenged a loss to the Crusaders in last year’s Patriot League Tournament.
• Bucknell shot 52.9% from the field, but defense and rebounding were significant keys to the victory. The Bison outrebounded Holy Cross 41-21 — the margin was 19-5 at halftime — and held the Crusaders to 37.5% shooting. Holy Cross is a strong 3-point shooting team out of the Princeton-style offense, but Bucknell limited the Crusaders to 3 3-pointers in 13 attempts.
• Holy Cross’ two double-digit scorers, Malachi Alexander (14.3) and Robert Champion (13.7), were held to seven points apiece. Patrick Benzan had a nice game off the bench for the Crusaders with a team-high 15 points.
• Bucknell held its opponent under 50 points for the first time since Dec. 31, 2014, when it defeated American 57-47.
• Bucknell went 20-for-30 on 2-point shots.
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell has allowed 81.2 points per game in its five losses and 62.9 ppg in its 12 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 (15.7 ppg) and Nana Foulland (14.6 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 57 fastbreak points through 17 games. They went three straight contests (Vanderbilt, Norfolk State, Northern Colorado) without giving up any fastbreak points. Meanwhile, Bucknell has scored 106 fastbreak points on the season.
• Matt O’Reilly has attempted 108 shots during his career at Bucknell. Of those, 103 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 14.7 points over his last six games.
• Stephen Brown leads the Bison in +/- with a +140 on the season after a +29 in the Holy Cross game. Foulland is next at +98.
• 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 0.97.
• D.J. MacLeay leads the team with a total rebounding percentage of 23.8. In other words, MacLeay pulls down 23.8% of all missed shots (offensive and defensive) when he is on the floor.
• Bucknell is 84-for-109 (.771) from the foul line in the last five minutes of games this season, but just 156-for-255 (.612) in the first 35 minutes of games. Even Foulland, who is shooting 51.5% from the line on the season, is 20-for-27 (.741) in late-game situations.
• After shooting a season-low 34.0% from the field against Navy, the Bison have shot 52.6% in the next three games combined. They have eclipsed the 50% mark in all three.
• Foulland recorded his 500th career rebound in the Princeton game, and he needs 41 points to reach 1,000. Only 18 players in Bucknell history have recorded 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.
• Brown needs 22 assists to join the top 10 in Bucknell history. He has 289 in his career.
Who's Got Next?
• Bucknell heads back out on the road on Saturday for a 2 p.m. against Colgate. The Bison will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the Raiders.