*NOTE: Bucknell has clinched the No. 1 seed for the Patriot League Tournament and will play at home as long as it advances throughout the tournament. Tickets to the March 1 quarterfinal game will be available for purchase at halftime of next Wednesday's home game vs. Navy at the Sojka Pavilion Box Office. The following morning (Thursday, Feb. 22) at 10 a.m., quarterfinal tickets will be on sale ONLINE, over the phone at 570-577-1000, or in person at the Campus Box Office.*
What: Bucknell (19-9, 13-2 PL) at Holy Cross (10-16, 7-8 PL)
Where: Hart Center, Worcester, Mass.
When: Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, 12 p.m. (ET)
TV: Stadium TV (Station List)
Webcast: Patriot League Network
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Listen Live: BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com
Live Stats: GoHolyCross.com
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (14.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.5 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (7.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.4 apg)
F: Avi Toomer (5.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.9 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (21.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.4 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg)
With a Win over Holy Cross, Bucknell Would ...
• ... record the 14th 20-win season in school history.
• ... improve to 20-9 overall, 14-2 in the Patriot League and 9-8 on the road this season.
• ... win its 16th in the last 18, and 20th in its last 25.
• ... maintain at least a four-game lead in the Patriot League.
• ... sweep the season series from the Crusaders and improve to 42-29 all-time against them.
• ... win at the Hart Center for the third straight year.
• ... improve to 63-32 under Nathan Davis.
• ... improve to 104-26 in Patriot League play since the start of the 2010-11 season.
• After a wild 48 hours at Sojka Pavilion earlier in the week, Bucknell has clinched the outright Patriot League regular-season title for an unprecedented fourth straight year and for seventh time in the last eight years. The Bison are assured of the No. 1 seed and hosting rights throughout the Patriot League Tournament.
• Bucknell was seconds away from seeing its lead over second-place Colgate reduced to one game on Monday night. But the Bison scored nine straight points in the final 21 seconds to steal a 65-64 win, and then on Wednesday a 41-point rout of Loyola, combined with Colgate's loss to Lehigh, made it a four-game margin with three to play.
• Dating back to mid-December, the Bison have won 15 of their last 17 games, and they are 19-5 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 13 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 39.3% shooting from the field and 32.1% from the 3-point arc while yielding only 67.1 points per game and 0.91 points per possession. The Bison are also +5.1 on the glass and are averaging 5.4 blocks per game.
• Stephen Brown, a veteran of 111 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 15.2 ppg clip in Patriot League play, the eighth-best mark in the league.
• Zach Thomas is enjoying a monster senior year, averaging 21.3 points and 9.4 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) 21.3 ppg/9.4 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
PATRIOT LEAGUE PLAYERS FINISHING A SEASON AS LEADER IN SCORING AND REBOUNDING
Adonal Foyle, Colgate 1995-96 20.2 ppg/12.6 rpg
Adonal Foyle, Colgate 1996-97 24.4 ppg/13.1 rpg
Kevin Hamilton, Holy Cross 2005-06 17.6 ppg/6.3 rpg
Mike Muscala, Bucknell 2012-13 18.7 ppg/11.1 rpg
Tim Kempton, Lehigh 2016-17 20.4 ppg/10.4 rpg
Zach Thomas, Bucknell 2017-18 21.3 ppg/9.4 rpg
• Thomas has attempted 10 or more free throws in a game 12 times this season. Only counting his made free throws (7.1 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 21st nationally in scoring, 34th in rebounding, ninth in defensive rebounding, first in both free throw attempts and made free throws (through Thursday’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 50.8 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 Zach Thomas.
• Since suffering a 69-34 home loss to Navy on Feb. 7, Holy Cross has rebounded with two straight road wins over Boston University (73-62) and Army (70-65). At 7-8 in Patriot League play, the Crusaders have climbed to sixth place and are now just one game out of fourth. Center Jehyve Floyd is having a breakout season, averaging a team-best 11.7 points per game while shooting a league-best 67.5% from the floor.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Holy Cross game will be televised on Stadium TV, with Elijah Gonzalez and Jim Cain calling the action. A live webcast will also 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 GoHolyCross.com.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
Last Time Out
• On a night when the Bucknell seniors made history by becoming the first class in Patriot League history to win four straight regular-season titles, the trio led the team to a 94-53 rout of Loyola at Sojka Pavilion. Stephen Brown led the Bison with a game-high 20 points and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds. Nana Foulland added 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Zach Thomas notched his 13th double-double of the year with 12 points and 12 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.
• It was also a big night for the Bison reserves. Backup center Nate Sestina achieved career highs in both scoring (18) and blocked shots (3) in 17 minutes off the bench. He recorded half of the team’s 36 bench points. Nate Jones knocked down two important 3-pointers when the game was still in doubt, and freshman center Paul Newman scored five points in the final five minutes to help put an exclamation point on the contest.
• The Bison shot 53.4% from the field (31-for-58), while holding the Greyhounds to just 28.6% (18-for-63). Bucknell had a 51-33 advantage in rebounds, outscored Loyola 46-24 in the paint, and built a 14-2 edge in second-chance points.
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 10 of the last 17 Patriot League titles.
• These two teams have met 15 times in the 27 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 71st meeting in 28 years.
• Bucknell leads the series 41-29. The road team has won just nine of the last 25.
• Bucknell is 22-11 against Holy Cross in Lewisburg and 15-5 at Sojka Pavilion. Bucknell is 15-15 vs. Holy Cross at the Hart Center, with one of the wins coming in the 2005 Patriot League championship game.
• The Bison swept the Crusaders last season. In the first meeting in Worcester, Bucknell never trailed and won 68-49 behind 17 points and eight boards from Nana Foulland. The Bison piled up a 41-21 rebounding edge and shot 52.9% for the game. Patrick Benzan led Holy Cross with 15 points. In the rematch at Sojka Pavilion, Zach Thomas scored a then-career-high 27 points, Kimbal Mackenzie added 17 points and seven assists, and Bucknell rode a big first half to an 82-68 win. Robert Champion led the Crusaders with 19 points, while Benzan had 15. Benzan scored 30 points on 12-for-14 shooting (3-for-3 3FG) against the Bison last season.
• In this season’s first meeting on Jan. 20 in Lewisburg, Bucknell got 18 points from Thomas and downed Holy Cross 77-56. Jacob Grandison had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Crusaders.
• Thomas has played eight career games against Holy Cross and is 32-for-48 (.667) from the field and 15-for-21 (.714) from 3-point range while averaging 15.0 ppg.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 278-117 (.704) 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 are now the first to win four in a row, and they have claimed seven of the last eight.
• Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Bucknell is 103-26 (.798) in Patriot League play.
• Bucknell has won 12 Patriot League regular-season titles in 28 years. No other team has more than five.
• Bucknell will make its ninth 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 78 of his 83 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 12-2 this season, 34-3 over the last two seasons, and 48-7 in the Davis era when leading at the half.
• Bucknell is averaging 43.6 points in the second halves of games this season, the 11th-best figure in the country. That figure jumps to 46.2 ppg at home, which ranks seventh in the nation.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 81.1 points per game (39th nationally), but the Bison have also given up the third-most points (74.9) in the league (248th nationally). The Bison are scoring 1.10 and allowing 1.01 points per possession on the season.
• The Bison are 13-2 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 15.2 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 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 16.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg.
• Bucknell is shooting 48.4% 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 31.7% at Sojka Pavilion).
• 29.1% of Bucknell’s offensive plays have resulted in free throws, which is the 18th-highest rate in the country. Bucknell’s 683 free-throw attempts are second-most in the nation, trailing only UNLV (686).
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Zach Thomas ranks 27th out of all Division I players with a score of 28.15. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
What a Class
• Each member of the Bison senior class has now eclipsed the 1,000-point mark. This is just the second class in team history to accomplish that feat. The other was the Class of 2013, with Mike Muscala (2,036), Bryson Johnson (1,384) and Joe Willman (1,162).
• This group now has an 81-47 overall record and a 55-14 mark in Patriot League play. They have captured regular-season titles all four years — making them the first class in league history to accomplish the feat — and have played in an NCAA Tournament and two NITs.
• Brown, Foulland and Thomas have combined for 4,448 points: Foulland (1,654), Thomas (1,619), Brown (1,175).
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell hosts Navy on Wednesday and will celebrate Senior Night prior to the 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Stadium TV and will stream on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague.tv