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Bucs going for lucky 13 against The Citadel

Joe Avento • Jan 28, 2018 at 10:33 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. — They’re going for lucky 13 on Monday, but members of the East Tennessee State University basketball team aren’t taking anything for granted.

The Bucs have won 12 consecutive games and take a Southern Conference-leading 9-0 record into the 6 p.m. game against The Citadel at McAllister Fieldhouse.

“Coach always says the next game is the biggest game,” said ETSU senior guard Desonta Bradford, who is performing like a true player of the year candidate as the victories continue to mount.

“We’ll be ready for The Citadel. We have a bunch of resilient guys who want to win and want to do something special. Credit to my teammates and our coaching staff for putting us in this position.”

The Bucs, who haven’t lost since Dec. 16, bring an 18-4 overall record into the game.

SCOUTING THE CITADEL

The Bulldogs (7-13 overall, 2-6 SoCon) are the highest scoring team in the conference, averaging 85.5 points per game, 14th in the country. They do it by putting up a lot of 3-pointers, 692 through 20 games, and average 11.7 makes per game, fourth-best in the country.

After losing its first four SoCon games, The Citadel has begun to click as of late. A 76-74 victory at Mercer on Saturday was its second win in the last four conference games.

Matt Frierson leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 13.2 points per game. Zane Najdawi averages 13.1, but in SoCon games he’s been getting 19.2.

“We’ll be ready,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “They’re playing well. That was a good win for them at Mercer. They’ll be coming in with confidence. We have to be ready to play.”

The Bulldogs like to press, the main reason they lead the league in forcing more than 19 turnovers a game. That press has played to ETSU’s strengths in recent years, allowing the athletic Bucs ample easy opportunities for layups and dunks.

Opponents are averaging more than 90 points a game against The Citadel.

BUCS IN THE STATS

After a convincing 75-62 victory over Wofford, Bradford remains the only player to rank in the top 10 in the conference in scoring (14.1 points per game, eighth), rebounding (5.7, seventh) and assists (3.6, eighth).

The Bucs lead the SoCon in shooting percentage-defense. Opponents are making 40 percent overall against them, 30.8 percent from 3-point range. They also lead in blocked shots, averaging 4.2 per outing.

COMING UP

Th Bucs return home after the two-game road trip to face Chattanooga on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Bucs beat the Mocs 85-66 on Jan. 6.

ETSU is averaging a league-leading 3,913 fans for its home games at Freedom Hall, a number that has been steadily increasing during the winning streak.

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