What: Bucknell (3-4) at Saint Joseph's (3-3)
Where: Hagan Arena, Philadelphia, Pa.
When: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, 7 p.m. (ET)
Webcast: Atlantic 10 Network
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Listen Live: BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com
Live Stats: SJUHawks.com
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (12.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 6.0 apg)
G: Jimmy Sotos (7.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (6.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.1 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (25.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.9 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 apg)
With a Win over Saint Joseph’s, Bucknell Would ...
• ... win its fourth straight game and improve to 4-4 overall and 2-4 on the road this season.
• ... follow a four-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak for just the second time in the last 17 years.
• ... beat the Hawks for the fourth time in 21 all-time meetings.
• ... improve to 47-27 under Nathan Davis.
• Bucknell closes out the month of November with yet another tough test, this one coming Wednesday evening at Saint Joseph’s. This is a matchup of two top-100 teams, as Bucknell is listed 73rd and Saint Joseph’s 87th in the latest kenpom.com rankings. The Hawks were picked third in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, and they are the first of four A-10 teams coming up on Bucknell’s schedule.
• Bucknell will be down two starters for the time being. Sophomore Avi Toomer has missed the last four games with a leg injury that is expected to keep him out 4-8 weeks. Junior Kimbal Mackenzie is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal muscle tear.
• Assistant coaches John Griffin and Joe Meehan both went to high school at Saint Joseph’s Prep and starred on the basketball court. Griffin is a 2008 Bucknell graduate and former All-Patriot League guard for the Bison. His father, John, played at St. Joseph’s from 1975-78, and he served as head coach of the Hawks for five seasons (1990-95), immediately preceding Phil Martelli, who had also served as an assistant under Griffin.
• Bucknell also brings home freshman center Paul Newman, a Philadelphia native who played at Roman Catholic High School before doing a postgraduate year at St. Andrew’s in Rhode Island.
• After starting the season with four road losses against tough competition, the Bison have bounced back with three straight wins over Siena, Ball State and Stony Brook. Bucknell averaged 95.7 points per game in the three wins and are scoring 85.3 ppg on the season.
• On that grueling road trip to start the season, Bucknell covered 4,004 miles by ground and air, and played four teams in Monmouth, Arkansas, defending national champion North Carolina and Maryland that combined to win 110 games last season. The UNC game marked the first time the Bison have ever played the defending national champion.
• Bucknell dropped all four of those games, but three of them came right down to the wire. The Bison fell 79-78 at Monmouth, when the Hawks made two free throws with five seconds remaining in the game. They trailed by only one at North Carolina with 12 minutes to play before the Tar Heels pulled away in the last few minutes to win 93-81. And then at Maryland, Bucknell played a near-perfect first half and led 50-35 at the break, but the Terrapins rallied to win 80-78.
• Senior Zach Thomas is off to quite a start, averaging 25.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in the first seven games of the season. Already a two-time Patriot League Player of the Week, Thomas became the first Bison in 26 years to start a season with three straight 20-point games. He now has six 20-points games (including two 30-point games) on the season, the last a 38-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist gem at Stony Brook on Sunday.
• Thomas’ fellow seniors, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown, are also off to fast starts. Foulland is shooting 60.0% from the field and averaging 15.7 ppg, while Brown tallied a career-high 23-point game at Maryland and is averaging 12.4 ppg and 6.0 apg. The three seniors have combined for 62.8% 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.
• Saint Joseph’s has split its first six games of the season, beating UIC, Princeton and Sacramento State while falling to Toledo, Washington State and Harvard. The Hawks finished 11-20 last season but were decimated by injuries to four key players. One of them was Shavar Newkirk, who is back this season and leading the team in scoring with 17.2 points per game. James Demery (16.7) and Taylor Funk (15.8) also score in double figures for the Hawks, who average 76.7 points per game as a team. Saint Joseph’s takes good care of the basketball, as it has committed only 55 turnovers in six games.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Saint Joseph’s game will stream live on the Atlantic 10 Network at Atlantic10.com. Subscription rates may apply.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong calling the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• Live statistics can be accessed via SJUHawks.com.
• 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.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
Last Time Out
• It was the Zach Thomas show at IFCU Arena on Sunday. The senior forward finished with a career-high 38 points along with 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to lead the Bison to an 85-76 win at Stony Brook. Thomas posted the 11th-highest single-game point total in team history while nearly recording a triple-double, and he helped Bucknell to its third straight victory.
• Thomas hit 10 of 17 shots from the field, 5 of 9 from 3-point range, and a perfect 13-for-13 from the charity stripe. He surpassed his previous career high of 31 points, set in this year’s opener at Monmouth.
• Stony Brook came in averaging better than 10 made 3-pointers per game, and they hit 6 of 12 in the second half to hang in the game after Bucknell went up by as many as 14. A Bryan Sekunda trey got the Seawolves as close as five at 68-63, but Thomas answered with a drive to the basket for a lefty layup, and after Stony Brook missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Thomas fed Jimmy Sotos for a trey to restore a double-digit lead. In the late stages, Stony Brook got it to seven after a 5-for-11 stretch at the foul line, but Kimbal Mackenzie hit one of the biggest shots of the game for Bucknell, a top-of-the-key 3-pointer off a low-post kickout from Nana Foulland. That made it 78-68 with 3:43 to play. Stony Brook would hit one more 3-pointer, but the Bison iced it with a tremendous performance at the free throw line.
• Bucknell made their first 23 charity tosses of the game before missing its final attempt with 31 seconds left in the game. Had that fallen, the Bison would have set a school record for most made free throws in a perfect shooting game. The current mark is 22-for-22 against Lafayette in 1988-89. Bucknell also holds the Patriot League record with a 21-for-21 performance against Richmond in 2011-12.
• While Thomas led the way with his 38 points, Bucknell’s most since Chris Hass had 40 at Army in 2015-16, three others hit double figures. Foulland tallied 11 points, while Sotos and Bruce Moore had 10 each.
Bucknell vs. Saint Joseph’s
• The Bison and Hawks will be meeting for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The two teams are former league rivals in the East Coast Conference, and Saint Joseph’s carries a 17-3 lead in an all-time series that dates back to 1951.
• In the last meeting on Nov. 19, 2006 at Alumni Memorial Coliseum, Ahmad Nivins had 15 points and nine rebounds to lead unbeaten Saint Joseph’s to a 63-53 victory over Bucknell. Chris McNaughton scored 14 points and Darren Mastropaolo had 13 for the Bison.
• Bucknell defeated Saint Joseph’s in each of the previous two seasons. The 69-62 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 28, 2004 was immediately followed by a victory at No. 7 Pittsburgh in a season that would culminate with a Patriot League title and a win over Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.
• Bucknell’s only other series win came in Davis Gym, a 63-61 double-overtime victory on Jan. 10, 1979.
Bucknell vs. The Atlantic 10
• Bucknell is 37-74 (.333) all-time against the teams that currently comprise the Atlantic 10.
• In addition to their 3-17 record against Saint Joseph’s, the Bison are 6-19 against La Salle, 3-3 vs. Richmond, 4-7 vs. George Mason, 7-2 vs. George Washington, 5-8 vs. Fordham, 3-5 vs. Duquesne, 3-5 vs. Rhode Island, 1-5 vs. St. Bonaventure, 1-2 vs. Davidson, 1-0 vs. Saint Louis, and 0-1 vs. Dayton. Bucknell has never played Massachusetts or VCU.
• This will be the first of four games against A-10 opponents for the Bison. In the coming weeks they will play at VCU (Dec. 16), at Richmond (Dec. 19) and home vs. La Salle (Dec. 22).
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell has done well to get to the free-throw line in its last three games. The Bison scored 91 of their 287 points against Siena, Ball State and Stony Brook at the line.
• Bucknell shot 85.8% from the foul line in its last three games after shooting 57.8% in the first four games. That includes a 23-for-24 performance at Stony Brook.
• Zach Thomas has been the leader of that parade to the foul line. After setting school records for free throws made (19) and attempted (22) in the Siena game, he hit 12 of 14 against Ball State and 13 of 13 against Stony Brook. After an uncharacteristic 2-for-8 showing on opening night at Monmouth, Thomas has his season average back up to 76.3%. He made 20 in a row at one point, spanning the Siena and Ball State games, and he brings a streak of 13 straight into the Saint Joseph’s game.
• Thomas has scored in double figures in 21 games in a row, topping the 20-point mark in 11 of those 21 games.
• Bucknell has logged a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in every game this season except Arkansas. Point guard Stephen Brown has 42 assists and only 12 turnovers on the year, and the primary guard rotation of Brown, Kimbal Mackenzie and Jimmy Sotos is nearly 3:1 on the season with 74 assists and 26 turnovers.
• Bucknell has made 10+ 3-pointers in six of the first seven games of the season, and the Bison have not allowed more than nine in a game all year. The Bison have 71 treys, compared to just 46 for their opponents.
• Through Monday’s games, Thomas leads the nation in free throw attempts (76) and total points (178), and he ranks second nationally in made free throws (58) and fourth in points per game (25.4).
NCAA LEADERS, POINTS PER GAME
- Femi Olujobi, North Carolina A&T, 28.3
- Trae Young, Oklahoma, 28.2
- Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas, 26.2
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell, 25.4
- Max Heidegger, UCSB, 25.2
- Matt Scott, Niagara, 25.2
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell returns home to face Vermont on Saturday in a clash between two of the nation’s top mid-major teams. The Bison and Catamounts were both No. 13 seeds in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The game will be televised regionally on WQMY-TV and will stream on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv.