21-4 season record. 12-0 in conference play. 15 game winning streak. Perhaps the most important is the 12-0 record in the SoCon. ETSU sits alone at the top of the SoCon standings and is one of only 16 teams in the nation to win over 20 games at this point in the season.
This has come about largely because of the Bucs domination of their fellow SoCon teams. The Bucs are in the midst of a 15 game winning streak, with 12 of those coming against conference rivals. Although ETSU experienced success during the early season, it seems a switch has been flipped after the holiday break.
Against their non-conference opponents, ETSU shot an impressive 46 percent from the field, while also holding their opponents to 44.2 percent. Since the new year, the Bucs have bumped their field goal percentage to over 51 percent, and also clamped down on defense, holding opponents to shooting 37.6 percent.
Although their percentage from the charity stripe has remained somewhat constant, the Bucs are shooting far less from the free throw line. They have only shot 218 free throws over the 12 SoCon games, compared to 280 over 13 non-conference games. Their percentage has stayed around 70 percent, and the Bucs are still outrebounding opponents by a small margin, around 4 boards per game. So what accounts for this hot streak their are now in the midst of?
The answer is their 3-point shooting. Against non-conference opponents, around 37 percent of ETSU’s shots come from behind the arc. This number is same against SoCon teams. However, against SoCon teams, the Bucs shoot a blistering 40 percent from behind the 3-point line, 10 percent higher than non-conference opponents. Also, they are doing so on less attempts, 20.75 attempts per game in SoCon match-ups and 22.615 in non-conference games.
This hot shooting streak coincides with ETSU’s dominant SoCon play. Leading the charge is senior point guard Desonta Bradford (Humboldt, Tennessee), who has shot 34 percent on his 108 3-pointers taken, and the bench spark plug, Devontavius Payne (Carbondale, Illinois), who has shot almost 37 percent on 137 shots from beyond the arc.
ETSU only has six more games remaining before the SoCon tournament begins. If the hot shooting remains, the Bucs could enter the tournament with enough momentum to sweep the SoCon and make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. The loss to Florida last year in the opening round of March Madness will still be fresh on the minds of Coach Steve Forbes and his Bucs, who will hopefully have a chance at redemption come March.