What: La Salle (6-6) at Bucknell (5-7)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, 7 p.m. (ET)
Webcast: Patriot League Network
Local Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 FM WEGH)
Listen Live: BucknellBison.com and Eagle107.com
Live Stats: BucknellBison.com
Tickets: 570-577-1000 or purchase online
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (12.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.1 apg)
G: Jimmy Sotos (7.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.1 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (5.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.3 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (22.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.4 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (15.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.6 apg)
• ... improve to 6-7 overall and 4-0 at home this season.
• ... win its 14th straight home game dating back to last season.
• ... improve to 2-2 this season against the Atlantic 10.
• ... improve to 49-30 under Nathan Davis.
• ... improve to 159-52 all-time at Sojka Pavilion
• Bucknell has one more tune-up prior to the start of Patriot League play, and it comes against La Salle on Friday night at Sojka Pavilion. This will be just the fourth home game of the season for the Bison, and it will be their third straight game and fourth overall against the Atlantic 10.
• Bucknell’s 13-game home winning streak is tied for ninth longest nationally. Cincinnati has the longest active streak at 32 straight at home.
• The Bison are coming off an 86-78 victory at Richmond on Tuesday. Bucknell trailed by 14 points early in the second half but outscored the Spiders 50-28 from that point on. Zach Thomas scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half to lead the comeback.
• Bucknell has faced the 14th-toughest schedule in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. Bucknell’s opponents rank 11th nationally in offensive efficiency. The Bison currently rank No. 97 out of 351 teams, and they are the third-highest-ranked team with a losing record, behind Wisconsin (5-7, 63rd) and Vanderbilt (4-7, 75th).
• Bucknell has been playing without two starters in recent weeks. Sophomore Avi Toomer has missed the last nine games with a leg injury. Junior Kimbal Mackenzie has missed the last five after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal muscle tear.
• Senior Zach Thomas is off to a terrific start, averaging 22.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in the first 12 games of the season. Already a three-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 eight 20-point games (including two 30-point games) on the season, headlined by a 38-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist gem at Stony Brook on Nov. 26. Thomas now ranks 11th nationally in scoring, third in free throw attempts and sixth in made free throws.
• Thomas’ fellow seniors, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown, are also off to fast starts. Foulland enjoyed a monster game at VCU last week (23 points, 14 rebounds, four assists) and is averaging 15.8 ppg, while Brown tallied a career-high 23-point game at Maryland and is averaging 12.0 ppg and 5.1 apg. The three seniors are averaging 50.8 points per game and have combined for 62.3% 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.
• Richmond finished 22-13 overall, 13-5 in the Atlantic 10, and made it to the third round of the NIT last season. But the Spiders suffered some graduation hits and are 2-8 thus far in 2017-18. The Spiders did win their most recent contest, a 74-71 home win over James Madison last Sunday before breaking for finals. Richmond’s other win was a 63-50 verdict over UAB on Nov. 20. Grant Golden leads the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game, while De’Monte Buckingham also scores in double figures at 12.8 ppg.
• The Bucknell-La Salle game game will be televised locally on WQMY-TV. Joe Vasile and former Bison point guard Abe Badmus will call the action. The game will also stream live 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 BucknellBison.com.
• Follow @Bucknell_MBB for in-game updates on Twitter.
• Zach Thomas scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half, and Bucknell rallied from 14 points down to topple Richmond 86-78 on Tuesday night at the Robins Center. Nana Foulland added 13 points and 10 rebounds, Stephen Brown scored 12, and Nate Sestina led a big night for the Bison bench with 10 points and seven rebounds.
• Things were not looking good for the Bison for awhile, as Richmond used backdoor cuts and transition play to get layup after layup in the first 20 minutes. The Spiders shot over 60% in the first half, and then they stretched an 11-point halftime lead up to 14 on a 3-point play on yet another backdoor cut on the first possession of the second half.
• But the Bison found a way to lock down defensively from there. They eliminated those backdoor plays and forced the Spiders to shoot 29% (9-31, including 0-10 3FG) in the second half. Meanwhile, Bucknell got rolling offensively, with Thomas scoring 10 straight points for the team in one stretch. The Bison shot 59.3% in a 50-point second half.
• Bucknell finished at 49.2% for the game, including 9 of 20 (.450) from 3-point range. The Bison were 5-for-9 from the arc in the second half, and they outrebounded Richmond 36-33.
• In addition to Sestina’s 10 points, freshman John Meeks scored a career-high nine points, Matt O'Reilly tallied six on a pair of treys along with two steals, and Nate Jones had three points and four rebounds in addition to his stellar defense.
• Bucknell defeated Richmond for the fourth straight time.
• Bucknell and La Salle are former conference rivals in both the Middle Atlantic Conference and the East Coast Conference.
• La Salle has a 19-6 lead in a series that dates all the way back to 1903.
• Bucknell’s series wins came in 1903, 1904, 1979, 2007, 2010 and 2012.
• The Bison were 0-11 against La Salle on the Explorers’ home floor until 2010-11, when Bucknell prevailed 89-77 behind 21 points from Mike Muscala.
• La Salle won last year’s meeting 83-73 at Tom Gola Arena. The Bison led 44-42 at the half but were outscored 41-29 in the second period. B.J. Johnson scored 22 points and Jordan Price had 20 to lead the Explorers. Nate Jones scored a career-high 15 points, hitting 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and Stephen Brown had 15 points, six assists and three steals for Bucknell.
• This will be Bucknell’s third straight game and fourth this season against an Atlantic 10 opponent. The Bison lost 85-79 at VCU last Saturday, and then they remained in Richmond to defeat the Spiders 86-78 on Tuesday. Bucknell also fell 83-70 at Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 29.
• Bucknell is 38-76 (.333) all-time against the teams that currently comprise the Atlantic 10.
• The Bison are 6-19 against La Salle, 3-18 against Saint Joseph’s, 4-3 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, 0-1 vs. VCU and 0-1 vs. Dayton. Bucknell has never played Massachusetts.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 81.4 points per game, but the Bison have also given up the most points (84.1) in the league. The Bison are scoring 1.09 points per possession on the season while allowing 1.13.
• Bucknell has recorded single-digit turnover totals in two of its last five games, and its season average of 11.5 turnovers per game ranks 35th nationally. The Bison also lead the Patriot League and rank 44th in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (1.33).
• Bucknell has logged a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in every game this season except Arkansas and VCU. Point guard Stephen Brown has 61 assists and only 20 turnovers on the year — he ranks 27th nationally in assist-turnover ratio — and freshman Jimmy Sotos has 25 assists and only 11 turnovers.
• Nate Sestina has been productive off the bench for the Bison. He is averaging 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 19.3 ppg and 9.9 rpg.
• Bucknell has made 10+ 3-pointers in seven of the first 12 games of the season, and the Bison have not allowed more than 10 in a game all year. The Bison have 105 treys, compared to just 81 for their opponents.
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Thomas ranks 46th out of all Division I players with a score of 28.97. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
2017-18 NCAA LEADERS, POINTS PER GAME
- Trae Young, Oklahoma 28.5
- Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas 24.8
- Fletcher Magee, Wofford 24.3
- Matt Scott, Niagara 24.0
- Kendrick Nunn, Oakland 23.9
- Kevin Hervey, UT Arlington 23.6
- Jon Elmore, Marshall 23.5
- Matt Morgan, Cornell 23.4
- Demontrae Jefferson, Texas Southern 23.4
- Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra 23.0
- Bryson Scott, Fort Wayne 23.0
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 22.9
- Nick King, Middle Tennessee St. 22.9
- Markus Howard, Marquette 22.8
- Max Heidegger, UCSB 22.5
• With 1,412 career points, Nana Foulland ranks 38th among all active Division I players and No. 1 among all centers. Foulland also ranks ninth in blocked shots (168) and 22nd in field-goal percentage (.577). The latter figure is also 10th among all active seniors.
• Stephen Brown ranks 18th among all active players with 435 assists.
• Zach Thomas is 60th among all active players with 1,297 points.
2017-18 NCAA ACTIVE POINTS LEADERS AMONG CENTERS
- Nana Foulland, Bucknell 1,412
- Angel Delgado, Seton Hall 1,274
- Isaac Haas, Purdue 1,237
- Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s 1,149
- James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan 1,141
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell starts Patriot League play Dec. 29 at home against American at 7 p.m.