logo



Bucs have chance to tie school record at VMI

Joe Avento • Updated Feb 9, 2018 at 6:30 PM

School history is on the line when the East Tennessee State basketball team takes on Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, on Saturday.

The Bucs are going for their 16th consecutive win, which would tie the school record, set during the 2003-04 season.

“We don’t feel any pressure,” ETSU guard Desonta Bradford said. “It’s good to get wins. That’s the only thing we think about every night, every day. It’s a new day. We just have to continue to improve and get wins.”

Tip-off at Cameron Hall is set for 1 p.m.

The Bucs have had a week off since beating Chattanooga 81-61 last Saturday to extend the winning streak.

“We needed it,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said of the break. “We won five games in 11 days. That’s a pretty hard thing to do. I don’t care where you’re at. That’s a hard grind.”

After the late-season respite, the Bucs are back at it again. They play their final six regular-season games over the next 16 days.

“It was good for us to get some days off to let guys recover, take care of there bodies and take a break,” Bradford said.

HUGE TURNAROUND

Five games into the season, the Bucs were 2-3 and struggling to find an identity.

Since then, they’ve won 19 out of 20 games and bring a 21-4 overall record into the VMI game. They’re 12-0 in the Southern Conference and have a 2 1/2-game lead atop the standings.

“I’m not really surprised,” Bradford said. “I knew we were capable of doing big things. We just got off to a bad start early in the season. I always knew we could do something like this.”

SCHOOL HISTORY

Back in 2004, the 16th consecutive victory came against Chattanooga. The Bucs ended the regular season that year by losing their next game, 91-89, to the College of Charleston before winning the SoCon tournament. They lost 80-77 to Cincinnati in the NCAA tournament.

The SoCon record is 25 consecutive victories, set by Davidson in 2007-08. That team, led by Steph Curry, won three games in the NCAA tournament to make the Elite Eight. After beating Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin, Davidson fell 59-57 to Kansas in the regional final to end the streak.

BRADFORD’S ROLE

Bradford has increased his scoring average to 15.5 points per game. He’s still the only player in the SoCon in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.

“He’s just playing with a lot of confidence,” Forbes said. “He’s a hard guy to guard because of his ability and size.”

As Bradford has become the team’s go-to guy, the winning streak has continued to grow. He’s averaging 23.3 points over his last four games.

“I think Desonta always knew that was his role,” Forbes said. “It was just a matter of doing it.”

DEFENSE CONTINUES

The Bucs are holding opponents to 39.8 percent shooting from the field. That ranks 17th nationally and leads the SoCon.

SCOUTING VMI

The Keydets bring a 7-16 record into the game. They’re 2-10 in the conference.

Freshman guard Bubba Parham leads VMI in scoring at 14.9 points per game.

ETSU won the earlier meeting at Freedom Hall, 89-48.

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos