What: American (3-8, 0-0 PL) at Bucknell (6-7, 0-0 PL)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Friday, Dec. 29, 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
PROMOTIONS & HAPPENINGS:
• Scout Night
• Junior Bison Club free admission & pregame pizza party (5:30 p.m.)
• Canned food drive benefitting Mount Carmel Area Food Pantry
Bucknell Probable Starters
G: Stephen Brown (12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.2 apg)
G: Jimmy Sotos (6.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.9 apg)
F: Bruce Moore (4.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.3 apg)
F: Zach Thomas (22.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.5 apg)
C: Nana Foulland (16.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 apg)
With a Win over American, Bucknell Would ...
• ... win its third straight game and improve to 7-7 overall and 5-0 at home this season.
• ... win its 15th straight home game dating back to last season.
• ... win its Patriot League opener for the fourth straight year and seventh time in the last eight years.
• ... improve to 50-30 under Nathan Davis.
• ... improve to 160-52 overall and 112-25 against Patriot League opponents at Sojka Pavilion.
• After facing a tough 13-game non-conference schedule, Bucknell starts the 28th season Patriot League play on Friday at home against American. The Bison captured the Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles last year and are the preseason favorite this season.
• Bucknell’s 14-game home winning streak is tied for seventh-longest nationally.
ACTIVE HOME-COURT WINNING STREAKS
- Cincinnati 33
- SMU 31
- Florida State 27
- Texas Southern 23
- Vermont 16
- Purdue 15
- Bucknell 14
UC Davis 14
- Kentucky 13
• The Bison closed out the non-league slate with two wins over Atlantic 10 teams last week. They rallied from 14 points down to beat Richmond 86-78, then took down La Salle 88-81 behind a career-high 30 points from Nana Foulland.
• Bucknell has faced the 21st-toughest schedule in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. Bucknell’s opponents rank 16th nationally in offensive efficiency. The Bison currently rank No. 97 overall out of 351 teams, and they are the fourth-highest-ranked team with a losing record, behind Wisconsin (6-7, 64th), Vanderbilt (5-7, 71st) and Davidson (5-6, 92nd).
• Bucknell has been playing without two starters in recent weeks. Sophomore Avi Toomer has missed the last 10 games with a leg injury. Junior Kimbal Mackenzie has missed the last six after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal muscle tear.
• Senior Zach Thomas had a terrific non-conference season, averaging 22.4 points and 8.9 rebounds in the first 13 games of the season. Thomas earned his fourth Patriot League Player of the Week honor this week, giving Bucknell five of the seven this season (Nana Foulland has the other). Thomas 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 15th nationally in scoring, second in free throw attempts and third in made free throws.
• Thomas’ fellow seniors, Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown, are also off to fast starts. Foulland is coming off a career-best 30-point game against La Salle and is averaging 16.9 ppg, while Brown tallied a career-high 23-point game at Maryland and is averaging 12.7 ppg and 5.2 apg. The three seniors are averaging 52.0 points per game and have combined for 63.5% 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.
• The new-look Eagles went 3-8 in non-league play, with the victories coming against New Hampshire, VMI and Howard. American dropped its last two games, at home against Mount St. Mary’s and on the road at Marquette. The Eagles do feature the Patriot League’s No. 2 and 3 scorers in Sa’eed Nelson (18.3 ppg) and Larry Motuzis (18.2). The latter is in his first year at AU after transferring from NAIA Saint Xavier University. While Nelson is a sophomore, American’s next eight scorers are in their first year with the team.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-American game will not be televised, however the game will 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.
Last Time Out
• Nana Foulland hit 12 of his 15 field-goal attempts and scored a career-high 30 points, leading Bucknell to an 88-81 victory over La Salle on Friday night at Sojka Pavilion.
• Foulland set a new career high with 23 points at VCU last Saturday, and that mark lasted only six days as he dominated La Salle from start to finish. He scored 19 points in the first half to help Bucknell grab a seven-point lead, and then he closed it out by scoring eight straight Bison points in the final seven minutes of the game.
• The other two members of Bucknell’s outstanding senior triumvirate also had big nights. Point guard Stephen Brown tallied 21 points and seven assists, and forward Zach Thomas scored all 16 of his points in the second half and added 14 rebounds and three assists.
• While the “big three” combined for 67 of the team’s 88 points, it was sophomore reserve Ben Robertson who was responsible for the biggest — and most spectacular — play of the night. After the Explorers hit back-to-back 3-pointers to reduce a 10-point deficit to four about five minutes into the second half, Robertson caught a skip pass on the right wing, pump-faked around one defender and then skied over top another for a two-handed jam and a foul. He made the free throw, and then one possession later Brown converted his own 3-point play to push the margin right back to 10 at 55-45. The Robertson dunk would later earn the No. 2 spot on ESPN SportCenter’s Top Ten Plays.
• This was Bucknell’s 14th straight home victory (4-0 this season), and the Bison improved to 2-2 against the Atlantic 10 this year.
• Bucknell entered the game with the 14th-toughest schedule in the country, while La Salle’s was ranked as the 12th-hardest. Three of La Salle’s six losses coming in were against top-25 opponents while two others came against Boston College and Towson teams with a combined 19 wins.
• Pookie Powell led the Explorers with 29 points. Powell and Deas combined for 53 of the team’s 81 points. La Salle shot 41.2% from the field and hit 9 of 25 3-point attempts one game after going 16-for-29 in a win over Mercer.
• Bucknell shot 54.7%, their second-highest figure of the season, despite hitting just 5 of 17 from 3-point distance. The Bison outscored La Salle 25-16 from the free-throw line.
Bucknell vs. American
• Bucknell has an overall 39-22 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 24-10, including victories in the 2005 and 2006 PL Tournament semifinals.
• Bucknell has won 22 of 29 series meetings in Lewisburg, including 14 out of 16 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.
Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 265-115 (.697) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. The Bison last season compiled a .500 record in PL play for the 23rd time in 27 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 another three in a row and six of the last seven.
• Bucknell has won 11 Patriot League regular-season titles in 27 years. No other team has more than five.
• Last year Bucknell made its eighth Patriot League Tournament appearance as the No. 1 seed.
• Dating back to mid-2010, Bucknell has won 97 of its last 123 league games.
• 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).
Foulland is NCAA’s Top Active Scorer Among Centers
• With 1,442 career points, Nana Foulland ranks 38th among all active Division I players and No. 1 among all centers. Foulland also ranks eighth in blocked shots (171) and 20th in field-goal percentage (.580). The latter figure is also ninth among all active seniors.
• Stephen Brown ranks 16th among all active players with 435 assists.
• Zach Thomas is 58th among all active players with 1,297 points.
2017-18 NCAA ACTIVE POINTS LEADERS AMONG CENTERS
- Nana Foulland, Bucknell 1,442
- Angel Delgado, Seton Hall 1,304
- Isaac Haas, Purdue 1,244
- Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s 1,172
- James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan 1,159
Numbers Worth Noting
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in scoring offense at 81.9 points per game, but the Bison have also given up the most points (83.8) in the league. The Bison are scoring 1.09 points per possession on the season while allowing 1.12.
• The Bison are 6-1 when scoring 80 or more points, but 0-6 when scoring fewer than 80. The lone exception to the 80-point rule is a 93-81 loss at North Carolina.
• Bucknell has logged a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in every game this season except Arkansas, VCU and La Salle. Point guard Stephen Brown has 68 assists and only 21 turnovers on the year. He ranks 20th nationally in assist-turnover ratio.
• Nate Sestina has been productive off the bench for the Bison. He is averaging 6.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but when pro-rated for 40 minutes he is tallying 18.3 ppg and 9.8 rpg.
• Bucknell has made 10+ 3-pointers in seven of the first 13 games of the season, and the Bison have not allowed more than 10 in a game all year. The Bison have 110 treys, compared to just 90 for their opponents.
• According to the Hollinger Player Efficiency Rating formula at ESPN.com, Thomas ranks 50th out of all Division I players with a score of 28.55. PER measures the aggregate of a player’s statistical efficiency.
2017-18 NCAA LEADERS, POINTS PER GAME
- Trae Young, Oklahoma 28.7
- Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas 24.8
- Matt Morgan, Cornell 24.4
- Fletcher Magee, Wofford 24.3
- Matt Scott, Niagara 23.9
- Kevin Hervey, UT Arlington 23.8
- Jon Elmore, Marshall 23.7
- Kendrick Nunn, Oakland 23.5
- Demontrae Jefferson, Texas Southern 23.4
- Nick King, Middle Tennessee St. 23.3
- Chris Clemons, Campbell 23.2
- Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra 23.2
- Bryson Scott, Fort Wayne 22.7
- Max Heidegger, UCSB 22.5
- Zach Thomas, Bucknell 22.4
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell rings in 2018 with a Jan. 2 home game against Boston University. The 7 p.m. contest will stream on the Patriot League Network.