Jan. 11, 2013
WHAT: Army (7-8, 0-0 PL) at Bucknell (13-3, 0-0 PL)
WHERE: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 12, 7 p.m. ET
LIVE WEBCAST: Bison Vision
RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
PROMOTIONS: 9th Annual Dirk Sojka's Slam Dunk with Bison Basketball
TICKETS: Buy online or call 570-577-1000
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format | "In the Herd" Preview
Saturday night the Bucknell men's basketball program will be celebrating the Ninth Annual Dirk Sojka's Slam Dunk with Bison Basketball. The event has become an annual highlight of the home schedule, with proceeds benefitting Suncom Industries. Fans in attendance can bid on silent auction items and purchase raffle tickets to win the top prize of a $1,000 Visa gift card or alternate prizes of $500 in cash or a catered Sojka Pavilion suite.Throughout the night there will be skills challenges featuring Drew Kelly and the 94.1-FM WQKX staff against members of the Bucknell Athletics staff.Suncom Industries is a private, non-profit organization providing services to adults with disabilities. It offers many services to help people reach their potential to be a contributing member of their community. Suncom was the workplace of Dirk Sojka, the son of Gary and Sandy Sojka, until Dirk's passing in July 2002.
With a Win over Army, Bucknell Would ...
... improve to 14-3 on the season, which would equal the second-best 17-game start in program history (the 1983-84 team started 15-2).
... defeat the Black Knights for the fifth straight time and improve to 44-19 all-time against them.
... win its Patriot League opener for the third straight year.
... improve to 6-0 at home this season.
... improve to 104-32 all-time at Sojka Pavilion and 70-14 in Sojka against Patriot League foes.
Bucknell kicks of the 23rd season of Patriot League basketball on Saturday night against Army. The Bison rank among the national wins leaders with a 13-3 record and are coming off a tough 66-64 loss at No. 12 Missouri one week ago. The Black Knights finished their non-league slate with a 7-8 mark and will be looking to shake a two-game losing streak on Saturday.
This will be Bucknell's first home game since a Dec. 19 win over Marist. The Bison just finished a difficult four-game road swing that included wins at Loyola (Md.) and Cornell and losses at Princeton and No. 12 Missouri.
Through Thursday's games, Bucknell is tied for 13th nationally with 13 victories. Bucknell is tied with Gonzaga and Fairfield for the national lead with eight road/neutral victories.
At 13-3, Bucknell has equalled its second-best record after 16 games. The Bison were also 14-2 in 1983-84.
Bucknell became 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: NR
CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll: 4
ESPN.com Mid-Major Poll: 4
RPI (from RPIforecast.com): 31
Ken Pomeroy computer ranking: 36
Jeff Sagarin computer ranking: 36
The Bison have been outstanding defensively this season. Opponents are averaging only 59.1 points per game, and Bucknell has held 12 of its last 14 foes under 40% shooting.
Mike Muscala is in the midst of an outstanding senior year for the Bison, and he has garnered frequent national mentions throughout the season. An All-America and NBA Draft candidate, Muscala leads the Bison in scoring (19.8), rebounding (10.9), assists (2.7), blocks (2.5) and FG% (.551).
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 and South Alabama's Augustine Rubit are the only two players in the country averaging at least 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Cameron Ayers (11.7), Bryson Johnson (11.6) and Joe Willman (10.8) are also scoring in double figures for the Bison, who average 68.8 ppg.
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.
Army has had some outstanding performances this season and has been one of the top offensive teams in the league. The Black Knights average 74.2 ppg, and they have topped the 90-point mark four times and the 80-point mark seven times. Army had a late lead against Texas A&M on Dec. 29 before falling 61-55.
Bucknell and Army have played four common opponents. Both teams beat Marist at home and lost to Penn State on the road. Bucknell defeated both Columbia and Dartmouth, while the Black Knights lost to those two Ivies last week.
All-Patriot Leaguer Ella Ellis is one of the top players in the conference. Ellis leads Army and ranks fourth in the Patriot League in scoring at 17.3 ppg. Freshman Kyle Wilson, a PL Rookie of the Year candidate, averages 12.1 ppg.
How to Get the Game
The Bucknell-Army game will not be televised, however a live webcast will air on Bison Vision via BucknellBison.com and Patriot League All-Access via PatriotLeague.com (subscription rates apply).
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. Army
The Bison hold a 43-19 lead in a series that dates back to 1929. Bucknell had a 15-game series winning streak, then the Black Knights won four in a row before the Bison have bounced back with six wins in the last seven meetings.
The Bison are 24-4 all-time at home against Army.
Army won the first 10 series showdowns, nine of them coming prior to 1966.
As Patriot League rivals, Bucknell has won 42 of 51 meetings.
In Patriot League Tournament action, Bucknell is 6-1 against Army.
Bucknell swept the Black Knights last season, winning 75-59 at West Point in the league opener and 81-68 in the rematch back at Sojka Pavilion. Mike Muscala led the Bison with 19 points and Cameron Ayers added 14 points in the first meeting. Bryan Cohen was the top scorer in game two with 19 points, followed by Muscala with 16.
Patriot League Success
The Bison are 200-94 (.680) in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. They have finished at least .500 in PL play in 18 of 22 seasons.
Bucknell has won the last two Patriot League regular-season titles, and it is trying to become the first team to win three outright titles in a row.
The Bison went 13-1 in the league in 2011 and 12-2 last year, making them 25-3 over the last two seasons. Dating back to 2010, Bucknell has won 33 of its last 38 league games.
Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006 and 2011. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 17 times and to the championship game nine times in the 22-year history of the league.
The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 1996).
Last Time Out
The Bison were a possession away from beating a top-25 team for the first time since 2005, but they fell just short in a 66-64 loss at No. 12 Missouri on Saturday.
It was a terrific college basketball game, featuring 11 lead changes and 13 ties. Bucknell's six-point lead late in the first half was the largest of the day for either side.
Mike Muscala turned plenty of heads with his performance against the Tigers. Muscala finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. He went 10-for-17 from the field, while helping limit Missouri star Alex Oriakhi to nine points.
Bucknell had the ball down by one point in the final seconds, but Muscala had a foot on the baseline when he caught a pass from Ryan Hill. Earnest Ross made two free throws with 3.0 seconds left, then Missouri elected to foul Muscala with a 3-point lead. Muscala made the first free throw, missed the second intentionally, and the Tigers were able to secure the rebound as time expired.
Cameron Ayers and Bryson Johnson made three 3-pointers each and both scored in double-figures. Ayers finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Johnson logged 11 points.
Missouri came in as the best rebounding team in the country, but the Bison became the first team all year to outrebound the Tigers (39-38). Bucknell had 14 offensive rebounds to 13 for Missouri, and the Bison led 16-12 in second-chance points.
SEC Co-Preseason Players of the Year Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers did the bulk of the scoring for Missouri. Pressey scored a career-high 26 points, while Bowers had 16. Pressey's 3-pointer with 2:55 left snapped a 57-57 tie, and the Tigers held on to a small lead the rest of the way.
Bucknell went 7-for-16 from 3-point range and shot 41.9% overall.
Missouri shot 0-for-8 from the arc in the first half but 5-for-5 in the second. The Tigers shot 42.9% for the game. Their 66 points were nearly 14 under their season average.
Starting off on the Right Foot
Bucknell's 13-3 start is tied for second-best in program history. The 1983-84 team was 14-2 after 16 games.
If Bucknell can defeat Army to get to 14-3, it would also equal the second-best 17-game start in program history. The 1983-84 team started 15-2.
Bucknell became 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.
Several Bison are chasing significant milestones:
Mike Muscala needs 265 points to become Bucknell's all-time leading scorer (Al Leslie had 1,973) and 292 to become the program's first 2,000-point scorer. If Bucknell plays the minimum number of games it could possibly play the rest of the way (15), Muscala would have to average 17.7 points to catch Leslie.
Muscala needs 111 rebounds to join Hal Danzig as the only players in program history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
Muscala needs 47 blocked shots to catch school record-holder Mike Butts, who had 278.
Bryson Johnson needs seven 3-point field goals to equal Kevin Bettencourt's Bucknell career record of 294.
Joe Willman needs 24 points for 1,000 in his career.
Cameron Ayers needs 168 points for 1,000 in his career.
Who's Got Next?
Bucknell heads back on the road on Wednesday to take on Colgate at 7 p.m. at Cotterell Court.
The Raiders are 6-10 heading into Saturday's league opener against American.