Feb. 17, 2012
WHAT: Bucknell (20-7, 10-1 PL) at Holy Cross (12-13, 6-5 PL)
WHERE: Hart Center, Worcester, Mass.
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 18, 4 p.m. ET
LIVE WEBCAST: Bison Vision
RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: GoHolyCross.com
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
With a Win over Holy Cross, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 21-7 overall and 11-1 in the Patriot League.
• ... clinch the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the Patriot League Tournament.
• ... be guaranteed a postseason berth (NCAA or NIT).
• ... sweep the season series against the Crusaders for the second straight year.
• ... win its eighth straight road game and improve to 10-5 on the road this season.
• Less than 48 hours after suffering its first Patriot League loss in more than a year, Bucknell will try to make a quick bounceback in a tough road test at Holy Cross on Saturday afternoon. Despite Thursday’s last-second loss to Lehigh, the Bison can still wrap up the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament with a win over the Crusaders.
• The Bison enter Saturday’s game with a two-game lead in the Patriot League with three games to play. Bucknell is 10-1, with Lehigh and American tied for second place at 8-3. Holy Cross is in a heated battle for a top-four seed and the right to host a first-round Patriot League Tournament game. The Crusaders, who have won three in a row, are tied for fourth place with Lafayette at 6-5, with Army right behind at 5-6.
• Thursday’s 56-53 loss to Lehigh ended a number of streaks for the Bison. Their 20-game winning streak against conference opponents was the longest in Division I basketball. They had also won 12 straight overall, which was tied for the seventh-longest streak in program history and tied for second-longest since 1919. It was the fifth-longest streak in the naton. The Bison also saw their 15-game Patriot League home winning streak come to an end. The last time they lost to a PL foe at home came against Holy Cross in the 2010 Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals.
• Still, Bucknell has won 12 of its last 13, 15 of its last 18, and 20 of its last 25. Since Dec. 1, 2010, Bucknell is 43-10.
• Mike Muscala is averaging 18.5 points over his last 17 games, and he has upped his season scoring average to 16.1, fourth-best in the Patriot League. Cameron Ayers (11.4), Joe Willman (10.7) and Bryson Johnson (9.1) are also top scorers.
• Muscala continues to lead the Bison in rebounding (9.0) and blocked shots (1.5). He leads the Patriot League in rebounding by a wide margin, and he has 12 double-doubles this season, the most in the league. He is four shy of the school record for double-doubles in a season. Muscala also has nine 20-point games this year.
• The Bison were unanimously picked as the preseason favorite in the Patriot League by the league’s head coaches and SIDs.
• The Bison returned four starters from last year’s team that finished 25-9 overall and 13-1 in the Patriot League. Bucknell went on to capture the Patriot League Tournament title, but the 14th-seeded Bison were ousted by red-hot Connecticut, the eventual national champions, in their NCAA Tournament opener.
• Holy Cross has already beaten Lehigh and American at home this season, and the Crusaders come in on a three game winning streak (at Navy, American, at Lafayette). Saturday’s game will be part of Holy Cross’ Winter Homecoming, and the Crusaders will celebrate Senior Day before the game.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Holy Cross game will not be televised, however a live webcast will be available on Bison Vision and Patriot League All-Access (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 at GoHolyCross.com.
Patriot League Success
• The Bison are 198-93 (.680) in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. Including this season, they have finished at least .500 in PL play in 18 of 22 seasons.
• The victory at Lehigh on Jan. 18 made Bucknell the first Patriot League team to go 100 games over .500 in league play.
• The Bison won a league-record 23 straight contests against conference foes from Feb. 23, 2005 to Jan. 12, 2007.
• Bucknell had a streak of 35 straight wins at home against conference opponents come to an end in 2008.
• Bucknell had won 20 straight games against Patriot League foes, 17 in the regular season and three in the 2011 Patriot League Tournament, before falling to Lehigh on Thursday. The Bison were also one of five remaining Division I conference unbeatens.
Bucknell vs. Holy Cross
The Patriot League has deep-rooted rivalries based on geography (Lehigh-Lafayette) and military brethren (Army-Navy), but there has been no better basketball rivalry in the league than Bucknell-Holy Cross. Some of the highlights:
• The Bison and Crusaders have combined to win seven of the last 11 Patriot League titles, and they are the only two league teams to have won in the postseason (Bucknell in the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Tournaments, Holy Cross in the 2005 NIT).
• These two teams have met in 13 of the 21 Patriot League Tournaments, including four times in the championship game. Bucknell defeated Holy Cross in the 2005 and 2006 title tilts, while the Crusaders topped the Bison in the final in 1993 and 2007.
• The Bison and Crusaders had never met until the formation of the Patriot League in 1990-91, but this will be the 57th meeting in 22 years.
• Bucknell leads the series 31-25. The road team has won five of the last 11, including Holy Cross’ upset of the Bison in the 2010 Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals at Sojka Pavilion. That was the last time Bucknell lost a home game to a Patriot League opponent before Thursday’s loss to Lehigh.
• Bucknell is 19-13 against Holy Cross in Lewisburg and 8-4 at Sojka Pavilion. One of those Sojka meetings was a 74-59 Bison win in the 2006 Patriot League championship game.
• Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen is 6-4 against Holy Cross, including his Williams College team’s 78-71 upset of the Crusaders at the Hart Center on Dec. 4, 2003.
• The Bison swept the season series last year, winning 74-72 at home on Jan. 16 and 60-56 in Worcester on Feb. 12. The victory at Sojka Pavilion came on Mike Muscala’s tiebreaking jumper from deep in the right corner with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Muscala had 23 points and 13 rebounds in that one. Bryson Johnson hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in the rematch at the Hart Center. Muscala battled foul trouble in that game, but still finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes.
• In this year’s first meeting, the Bison ran away with a 75-41 win at Sojka Pavilion on Jan. 21. Bucknell led 30-19 at the half and outscored the Crusaders 45-22 in the final 20 minutes. Cameron Ayers led the Bison with 13 points, while Bryan Cohen added 12 and Mike Muscala 11 points and 11 rebounds in limited minutes. Devin Brown paced Holy Cross with 11 points.
Last Time Out
• C.J. McCollum hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to give Lehigh a 56-53 win over Bucknell on Thursday at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison had a 51-44 lead with six minutes to play, but the Mountain Hawks ended the game on a 12-2 run. The three-point final equalled Lehigh’s largest lead of the night.
• Joe Willman had another big night with 19 points and 11 rebounds, giving him 36 points and 19 boards in his last two games.
• The two biggest stars in the game both struggled for most of the night. Bucknell’s Mike Muscala battled first-half foul trouble and finished with 10 points (3-12 FG) and 12 rebounds. McCollum, the league’s leading scorer at over 21 points per game, was 3-for-11 from the field before hitting the game-winning 3-pointer. McCollum finished with 15 points.
• Both teams played outstanding defense, with open shots few and far between. Lehigh shot 33.3% from the field and 26.1% from 3-point range. Lehigh’s 56 points were a season low. The Mountain Hawks have failed to reach 70 points only three times all year, and two of them are against Bucknell. Meanwhile, the Bison shot just 36.8% and recorded their second-lowest point total of the year. The Bison came in ranked ninth in the country in 3-point percentage, but they went 3-for-16 against Lehigh.
• Bucknell outrebounded Lehigh 39-32, with Muscala and Willman both recording double-doubles.
• Bucknell was held to 53 points just one game after scoring a season-high 90 against Lafayette.
Stats Worth Noting
• Bucknell is now 12-1 since point guard Ryan Hill joined the starting lineup.
• The Bison were 16-0 when leading at the half before suffering their first such loss on Thursday against Lehigh. The Bison led 29-27 at the break in that one.
• Bucknell has shot 50% or better as a team in 10 of its last 18 games. The Bison have shot 50% 12 times this season and are 12-0 in those games. Nationally, Bucknell ranks 53rd in FG% at 46.9%, 16th in 3FG% at 39.6% and 16th in FT% at 75.9%.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in both field goal percentage (.469) and field goal percentage defense (.391). The latter figure ranks 20th nationally.
• In the last 13 games, Bison opponents are shooting 36.5% (250-685). Only four of those 13 teams (Dartmouth, Army, Lafayette twice) have eclipsed 40%.
• The Bison rank 35th nationally (out of 338 teams) in fewest turnovers per game (11.9), but they only rank 277th in turnover margin (-2.0). Bucknell averages only 4.0 steals per game (336th), but it has counterbalanced that with a good FG% defense and strong defensive rebounding.
• Bucknell has been dominant on the glass for most of the year. After going -15 in rebound margin against Minnesota and Vanderbilt to start the season, the Bison are +188 since then and have outrebounded every opponent except Syracuse, Loyola, Lehigh and American. Bucknell’s +6.8 rebound margin for the season is by far the best in the Patriot League and ranks 18th nationally.
• A big part of Bucknell’s rebounding success has been limiting opponents’ second chances. The Bison have held 19 of their 27 foes to eight or fewer offensive rebounds.
• Bucknell has been better at the free-throw line of late. After shooting just 68.5% at the line in their first 10 games, the Bison have made 79.8% (280-351) as a team in the last 17 contests. That includes a 21-for-21 performance in the win over Richmond, 15-for-15 in the win at Lafayette, and 10-for-10 in the win at Navy. Bucknell ranked third in the nation in free-throw shooting last season at 78.8%, and after the slow start the team is up to 75.9% this season.
• If you remove the freshman class from the free-throw ledger, Bucknell would be shooting 80.6% as a team, which would rank second in the nation, just behind Weber State (81.4%).
• Strangely, Bucknell has been a much better free-throw shooting team on the road this season. The Bison shoot 79.7% as a team in road games, but only 72.5% at Sojka Pavilion.
• Eight Bison have had at least one double-digit scoring game this season, and 10 of the 14 on the roster have done it at least once in his career.
• The Bison return to action next Thursday, Feb. 23, with a road game at American. That game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
• The Bison defeated the Eagles 67-61 at Sojka Pavilion on Jan. 25.