The ETSU Bucs have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with this basketball season.

With an overall record of 13-7 and a SoCon record at 6-1, the men are looking to come out on top as conference champions with one thing standing in their way: Chattanooga.

The ETSU-Chattanooga rivalry started years ago and has become one of the biggest aspects of every basketball season.

As of right now, these two teams are tied for first place in the conference, making this upcoming game of utmost importance personally and physically.

On Jan. 16, the Bucs traveled to Chattanooga in hopes to continue their winning streak but fell short in the end with a loss of 94-84.

Senior Petey McClain knows that the team as a whole should have been more focused last time, making the upcoming game even more pressing.

“We have the opportunity here to steal first place,” McClain said. “This game is huge, not just for us [the team] but for our fans as well.”

Head coach Steve Forbes is in agreement with McClain that the home game against Chattanooga is important to all the fans and students, as all rivalries tend to be the most exciting games to attend.

For now, Forbes is focusing on all the games — four away and one at home — that they have before Chattanooga in order to better prepare his players for the rematch.

“Hopefully this game will have meaning in the conference race,” Forbes said, “but before then we have to take care of business on the road.”

At the end of the second half during the teams’ first match-up, there was only a two-point gap.

After coming back to play, the Bucs were unable to break down the Chattanooga zone, and that is something that they are working on perfecting for next time.

“We didn’t get a good start the second half and then had to play behind, and that’s hard to do on the road,” Forbes said.

The Bucs will play in Johnson City at Freedom Hall on Feb. 13 against the Chattanooga Mocs, hoping to come out on top as champions of not only the rivalry, but the Southern Conference as well.