Jan. 3, 2013
WHAT: Bucknell (13-2) at No. 12 Missouri (10-2)
WHERE: Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo.
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 5, 4 p.m. ET
TV/WEBCAST: Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN Full Court, ESPN3.com
RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
With a Win over Missouri, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 14-2 on the season, which would equal the best 16-game start in program history (the 1983-84 team also started 14-2).
• ... defeat a ranked opponent for the first time since Nov. 22, 2005 (74-69 at No. 17 Syracuse).
• ... defeat an SEC opponent for the first time since the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament (59-55 over Arkansas).
• ... snap the Tigers' streak of 72 straight non-conference home victories.
• ... improve to 7-2 on the road this season.
• Bucknell wraps up its non-conference slate on Saturday at No. 12 Missouri. Through Wednesday’s games, there were 32 Division I teams remaining with two or fewer losses, and these are two of them.
• After Wednesday’s 72-56 road win at Cornell, Bucknell was tied for the national lead with 13 wins (Michigan and Gonzaga both played for No. 14 on Thursday night). Bucknell was also tied for the national lead with six road wins, and its eight road/neutral victories was solo No. 1.
• At 13-2, Bucknell has equalled the best 15-game start in program history. The Bison were also 13-2 in 1983-84.
• Bucknell is the first Patriot League team ever to record 13 regular-season non-league victories.
• Bucknell in the rankings:
Associated Press Poll: NR
USA Today Coaches’ Poll: RV
CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll:4
ESPN.com Mid-Major Poll: 4
RPI (from RPIforecast.com): 31
Ken Pomeroy computer ranking: 39
Jeff Sagarin computer ranking: 40
• The Bison have been outstanding defensively this season. Opponents are averaging only 58.7 points per game, and Bucknell has held 12 of its last 13 foes under 40% shooting.
• Mike Muscala had a December to remember for the Bison. In seven games in the month of December, Muscala averaged 22.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.4 blocks (all team highs). He had a pair of 29-point games in road wins over Loyola (Md.) and Columbia, and he also pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds in that Columbia game. Muscala had a 27-point effort against Kent State, 26 against Marist, and 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three blocks vs. La Salle.
• There are only two players in all of Division I basketball who are leading his team in points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots. They are Muscala and Princeton’s Ian Hummer, who recently squared off at Jadwin Gym. Muscala is also one of only five players in the country averaging at least 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
• Bryson Johnson (11.7), Cameron Ayers (11.6) and Joe Willman (11.0) are also scoring in double figures. Johnson is coming off one of his best efforts of the season on Wednesday at Cornell. He registered 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists while playing outstanding defense.
• The Bison opened the campaign with wins over Purdue and George Mason, and then swept Niagara, New Mexico State and West Alabama at the Niagara Subregional of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project. Bucknell won all three of those games by double figures and improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2005-06. The first loss of the season came at Penn State on Nov. 23.
• The Bison were picked to finish second in the Patriot League behind Lehigh in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Senior center Mike Muscala and junior guard Cameron Ayers were both Preseason All-Patriot League selections.
• Bucknell returned four starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s 25-10 squad. The lone graduated starter was 6’5” guard Bryan Cohen, who won each of the last three Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year awards. Despite that loss, the experienced Bison start three seniors and two juniors. Bucknell’s starting five has a combined 507 career games played.
• Missouri is 10-2 and ranked 12th in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls. The Tigers’ lone losses have come against Louisville and UCLA, the latter coming in overtime in their last outing on Dec. 28. Missouri is 7-0 at home this season, although their three best wins (previously unbeaten Illinois, Stanford, VCU) have all come at neutral sites.
• Four Tigers are scoring in double figures for the season, led by Laurence Bowers at 16.9 ppg. Alex Oriakhi scores 10.3 ppg and also leads the squad in rebounding at 8.9 rpg. Guard Phil Pressey had an incredible game at UCLA with 19 points and 19 assists, and he leads the squad with 7.3 apg in addition to his 12.8 ppg.
• Missouri averages a whopping 47.4 rebounds per game, including 16.8 offensive boards per outing. Both of those figures lead the nation. The Tigers average 79.5 points while holding opponents to 64.7.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Missouri game is being televised on the Missouri Sports Network, which includes Fox Sports Midwest (DirecTV 671; Dish Network 418) and Metro Sports in Kansas City. In addition, the telecast will be picked up on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3.com. Chris Gervino and Jon Sundvold have the TV call.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong and Terry Conrad describing the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• The audio feed is available online free of charge via BucknellBison.com and SportsJuice.com.
• Live statistics are available on GameTracker at BucknellBison.com.
Bucknell vs. Missouri
• This will be the very first meeting between Bucknell and Missouri. In fact, this is Bucknell’s very first game in the state of Missouri.
• The Bison do have a few connections with the Tigers, however. Bucknell’s Cameron Ayers and Missouri’s Phil Pressey attended Chris Paul’s CP3 Elite Guard Camp together. Cameron’s father, Randy Ayers, is currently an assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets. Phil’s father, Paul Pressey, formerly coached with the Hornets and is now with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
• This will not be the first time the Bison have faced Missouri center Alex Oriakhi, who is in his first year with the Tigers after transferring from Connecticut. Bucknell faced UConn in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and Oriakhi had nine points and 12 rebounds in the Huskies’ 81-52 victory.
Bucknell vs. The Southeastern Conference
• The Bison are 3-8 (.273) against current members of the SEC (1-0 vs. Arkansas, 1-1 vs. Alabama, 1-1 vs. South Carolina, 0-1 vs. Tennessee, 0-1 vs. Florida, 0-1 vs. Vanderbilt, 0-1 vs. Texas A&M, 0-2 vs. Georgia).
• Bucknell had a two-game winning streak against SEC opponents snapped last season in an 80-68 loss at Vanderbilt.
• On Dec. 29, 1995, the Bison defeated Alabama 72-64 at the Cessna Classic in Wichita, Kansas. Their next appearance against an SEC foe came in Dallas at the 2006 NCAA Tournament, and the ninth-seeded Bison edged eighth-seeded Arkansas 59-55.
Bucknell vs. Ranked Opponents
• The Bison are 3-25 all-time against nationally ranked opponents. All three of those wins came in the 2005 calendar year. The Bison upset Pittsburgh and Kansas (NCAA) in 2004-05 and Syracuse in 2005-06.
• Bucknell’s last victory over a ranked foe was a 74-69 win at No. 17 Syracuse on Nov. 22, 2005.
Last Time Out
• Bucknell improved to 13-2 on the season with a hard-fought 72-56 win at Cornell on Wednesday. The game was closer than the final score indicated, as the Bison led by just five points before outscoring the Big Red 15-4 over the final 5:36.
• Cameron Ayers led the Bison in scoring with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
• Bryson Johnson turned in perhaps his most complete performance of the season. Johnson tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists, with only one turnover in 35 minutes against Cornell’s pressure defense. Johnson canned two huge 3-pointers and assisted on Steven Kaspar’s trey in that game-ending 15-4 run.
• Mike Muscala recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and he also kicked in four assists and four blocked shots. Muscala went 4-for-5 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the foul line.
• Joe Willman was saddled with foul trouble for most of the night, but he still managed 10 points (4-5 FG, 2-2 FT), four rebounds and three assists in just 17 minutes.
• Kaspar and Brian Fitzpatrick both gave the Bison important minutes off the bench. In that decisive run at the end of the game, Kaspar contributed a shot-clock-beating 3-pointer, a nice drive and finish, and a no-look pass to Johnson for a 3-pointer that gave Bucknell a commanding 70-54 lead with 2:38 to play. Fitzpatrick played 15 minutes up front with Willman out with foul trouble. He made two big buckets for four points and dished out two assists.
• The Bison shot an astounding 78.9% (15-19) from the field in the second half, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. They shot 62.2% for the game, their best percentage since last February at Navy (62.7%).
• Bucknell committed an uncharacteristic 14 turnovers, but also had 20 assists on 28 made field goals.
• Bucknell Hall-of-Famer Bill Courtney ‘92 is in his third season as head coach at Cornell.
Starting off on the Right Foot
• Bucknell’s 13-2 start matches the best in program history. The 1983-84 team was also 13-2 after 15 games.
• If Bucknell can defeat Missouri to get to 14-2, it would also equal the best 16-game start in program history. The 1983-84 team was also 14-2.
• Bucknell has become the first team in Patriot League history to record 13 non-league wins in a regular season. Fordham (1990-91) and Lehigh (2011-12) previously won 12.
• Bucknell has played stellar defense this season against a very strong non-conference schedule. The Bison are allowing only 58.7 points per game, which ranks No. 2 in the Patriot League and No. 39 out of 347 Division I teams.
• Bucknell has allowed more than 60 points in a game only five times all season, and four those came in victories.
• Bison opponents are shooting 36.9% from the field. That is the best FG% defense figure in the Patriot League and the No. 16 mark in the nation.
• Purdue (.459) and George Mason (.400) both shot 40% or better against the Bison in the first two games of the season, but then they held 10 straight opponents under 40%. Princeton ended that streak by shooting 51.0% on Dec. 22, but the Bison have now held 12 of their last 13 foes under 40%.
Cleaning the Glass
• Bucknell has a +5.3 rebounding margin this season.
• The Bison have outrebounded 11 of their 15 opponents so far this season and been even on the glass once. The only teams to get more boards than Bucknell are Penn State, Marist and Princeton. Perhaps not coincidentally, Penn State and Princeton are responsible for Bucknell’s only losses of the season, and the Marist game came right down to the final minute before the Bison prevailed.
• Since the start of last season, Bucknell has only been outrebounded 11 times in 40 games.
• The Bison are 11-0 this season and 50-4 over the last three seasons when winning the battle on the glass.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell opens up the 23rd season of Patriot League play next Saturday (Jan. 12) against Army at home at 7 p.m.
• The high-scoring Black Knights are 7-6 on the season heading into a Saturday home game against Columbia. Army will also travel to Dartmouth before coming to Lewisburg.