What: Bucknell (21-9, 15-2 PL) at American (6-22, 3-14 PL)
Where: Bender Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 2 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: AUEagles.com
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (14.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.3 apg)
G: Kimbal Mackenzie (7.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.4 apg)
F: Avi Toomer (4.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.1 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (21.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.4 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg)
With a Win over American, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 22-9 overall, 16-2 in the Patriot League and 10-8 on the road this season.
• ... become the first team in Patriot League history to win 16 conference games in a season. Since the league added Boston University and Loyola and went to an 18-game schedule in 2013-14, two teams have gone 15-3: Bucknell last year and Boston U. in 2013-14.
• ... become the second team in Patriot League history to win the league by four games or more. In 2002-03, Holy Cross (13-1) finished four games ahead of American and Colgate (9-5).
• ... reach the 22-win plateau for the 12th time in school history.
• ... win its 15th in the last 16; 18th in the last 20; and 22nd in its last 27.
• ... beat the Eagles for the fourth straight time and improve to 41-22 all-time against them.
• ... improve to 65-32 under Nathan Davis.
• ... improve to 106-26 in Patriot League play since the start of the 2010-11 season.
• Bucknell wraps up the 2017-18 regular season on Saturday at American. With one game remaining, these are the only two of the 10 Patriot League teams with their tournament seeding already locked in. The Bison have clinched the regular-season title and No. 1 seed, while the Eagles will be seeded 10th.
• Since seeing its 10-game winning streak end in overtime at Lehigh on Feb. 5, Bucknell has won another four in a row and has locked up the outright Patriot League title for the fourth year in a row and seventh time in the last eight years. Most recently, the Bison routed Navy 85-61 on Senior Night on Wednesday.
• Bucknell and American will be meeting for the first time since the league opener all the way back on Dec. 29. The Bison won that one 84-55 at Sojka Pavilion.
• On the milestone watch for this game:
• Zach Thomas is two shy of the Bucknell single-season points record. He has 635 points, just behind Mike Muscala’s 637 in 2012-13.
• Thomas (1,657) needs 13 points to catch Mike Bright (1,670) and move into the top-5 on Bucknell’s career scoring list.
• Stephen Brown needs one assist to catch Pat Flannery (505) for third place on Bucknell’s career chart.
• This is the first class in Patriot League history to win four straight outright regular-season titles.
• This class has an 83-47 overall record and a 54-14 mark in Patriot League play. They have played in an NCAA Tournament and two NITs thus far.
• This is the second class in school history to feature three 1,000-point scorers. Foulland (1,687), Thomas (1,657) and Brown (1,215) have combined for 4,559 points. They are closing in on the 4,582 points accumulated by the Class of 2013 (Mike Muscala 2,036; Bryson Johnson 1,384; Joe Willman 1,162).
• All three members of the class currently rank in the top 11 in the Patriot League scoring race. They are averaging a combined 51.1 points per game and are accounting for 63.3% of the team’s points this season.
• Dating back to mid-December, the Bison have won 17 of their last 19 games, and they are 21-5 since starting the season with consecutive road losses at Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland.
• Bucknell has trailed at the half in six of its 15 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.
• The Bison have been getting it done with defense. In Patriot League play, Bucknell is holding opponents to 39.5% shooting from the field and 32.0% from the 3-point arc while yielding only 66.8 points per game and 0.90 points per possession. The Bison are also +4.8 on the glass and are averaging 5.4 blocks per game.
• Zach Thomas is enjoying a monster senior year, averaging 21.2 points and 9.2 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 five Division I players currently leading his conference in both scoring and rebounding.
• Thomas has attempted 10 or more free throws in a game 12 times this season. Only counting his made free throws (7.0 per game), Thomas would be the 46th-leading scorer in the Patriot League. Thomas already has broken the school records for made and attempted free throws in a season.
• Thomas has earned six Patriot League Player of the Week honors, giving Bucknell seven this season (Nana Foulland has the other). Thomas has 16 20-point games, including four 30-point games, on the season, both of which tie school records. He had a 38-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist gem at Stony Brook on Nov. 26 and a 36-point, 13-rebound effort at Lehigh. Thomas now ranks 26th nationally in scoring, 38th in rebounding, 11th in defensive rebounding, first in free throw attempts and second in made free throws (through Thursday’s games).
• Stephen Brown, a veteran of 113 consecutive starts at point guard, has played some of the best ball of his career in recent weeks, particularly in the two wins over Navy. Brown scored a career-high 27 points, hitting 7 of 9 from long distance, at Navy on Jan. 24, and then on Wednesday he scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half in an 85-61 win over the Midshipmen. The 27 and 25-point performances represent the two highest-scoring games of his career. Brown is scoring at a 15.8 ppg clip in Patriot League play, the sixth-best mark in the league.
• American is 6-22 overall and 3-14 in the Patriot League. Two of the Eagles’ three conference wins have come against Boston University, with the other against Loyola. Most recently, American fell 70-64 at Holy Cross, despite hitting 13 3-pointers. Like the Bison, the Eagles have three players averaging better than 14 points per game. Sa’eed Nelson ranks second in the Patriot League in scoring behind Zach Thomas at 17.9 ppg, followed by PL Rookie of the Year candidate Sam Iorio (14.7) and Larry Motuzis (14.6).
• Bucknell has had some rough shooting nights in Bender Arena in recent years. The Bison are 11-for-56 (.196) from 3-point range in their last five games in Bender, even though they are 4-1 in those contests.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-American game will be televised on Stadium TV, with Mike Watts and Dan Laing on the call. The game will also stream 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 AUEagles.com.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
Last Time Out
• Seniors Stephen Brown, Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland were honored during Senior Night ceremonies prior to the game and then went on to score 60 of Bucknell’s points in an 85-61 victory over red-hot Navy Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion. Brown led the way with a game-high 25 points, while Thomas added 23 and Foulland 12 as the Bison closed out their regular-season home schedule with a 12-1 record.
• Bucknell led by two points with eight minutes left in the first half, but used a 25-11 run to end the stanza with a 16-point lead. The Bison led comfortably throughout the second half, stretching their lead to as many as 28 points. Navy had won four straight and six of its last seven coming in.
• Bucknell shot 64.3% in the first half and finished the game at 55.6%. The three seniors were a combined 22-for-36 from the field and 7-for-12 from 3-point range. As a team, the Bison connected on 10 of 22 3-pointers.
Bucknell vs. American
• Bucknell has an overall 40-22 lead in an all-time series with American that includes some historic dates. The very first meeting on Jan. 14, 1939 also happened to be the first game ever played in Davis Gym (AU won 38-33). Coincidentally, American was also the opponent for the very last game ever played in Davis Gym on Jan. 11, 2003 (a 63-52 Bison win).
• As Patriot League rivals, Bucknell leads 25-10, including victories in the 2005 and 2006 PL Tournament semifinals.
• Bucknell has won 23 of 30 series meetings in Lewisburg, including 15 out of 17 at Sojka Pavilion, but the Bison are just 9-7 at Bender Arena since American joined the Patriot League in 2001-02.
• Bucknell swept two games from the Eagles last season. In D.C., 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. Sa’eed Nelson paced American with 18 points. In the rematch at Sojka Pavilion, Bucknell won 80-60 behind 21 points and nine rebounds from Zach Thomas. The Bison jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back.
• In this season’s first meeting all the way back on Dec. 29 at Sojka Pavilion, the Bison routed the Eagles 84-55. Nana Foulland had 26 points and 11 rebounds, and Zach Thomas had 27 points and nine boards. The frontcourt duo combined for 53 points in 53 minutes, making 21 of their 27 field-goal attempts. Sam Iorio had 20 points and six rebounds for American.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 280-117 (.705) 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 105-26 (.802) 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
• Stephen Brown has scored in double figures in 16 straight games and is 27-for-31 from the foul line in his last nine games.
• Kimbal Mackenzie is 20-for-20 from the foul line this season and has made 29 straight dating back to last year. The school record is 39, by Bo Heiden in 1986-87.
• Zach Thomas has scored in double figures in 80 of his 85 career starts, including all but one this season. Thomas shook out of a 1-for-14 3FG slump by making 3 of 5 against Navy last time out.
• Nana Foulland has a blocked shot in 15 straight games and has scored in double figures in 14 straight.
• Bucknell is 25-3 in the month of January and 15-6 in February under head coach Nathan Davis.
• The Bison are 13-2 this season, 35-3 over the last two seasons, and 49-7 in the Davis era when leading at the half.
• Bucknell is averaging 43.0 points in the second halves of games this season, the 15th-best figure in the country. That figure jumps to 45.5 ppg at home, which ranks ninth in the nation.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 80.8 points per game (42nd nationally), but the Bison have also given up the third-most points (74.2) in the league (228th nationally). The Bison are scoring 1.09 and allowing 1.00 points per possession on the season.
• The Bison are 14-2 when scoring 80 or more points, but 7-7 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 15.5 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 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 16.7 ppg and 10.3 rpg.
• Bucknell is shooting 48.9% from the field at home this season and 45.0% on the road, even though it has shot better from the 3-point arc on the road (34.7% compared to 32.7% at Sojka Pavilion).
• 29.3% of Bucknell’s offensive plays have resulted in free throws, which is the 14th-highest rate in the country. Bucknell’s 734 free-throw attempts are second-most in the nation, trailing only Niagara (752).
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Zach Thomas ranks 33rd out of all Division I players with a score of 27.40. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell will host a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. against the winner of Tuesday’s 8 vs. 9 game.
• Loyola and Army occupy the 8 and 9 spots heading into the final weekend. Both are 6-10, one game behind seventh-place Lafayette. Loyola and Army both have a chance to move up to the No. 7 seed with a win and some help.