Bucknell Men's Basketball Plays for No. 1 Seed Wednesday vs. American at Sojka Pavilion

Bryson Johnson

Feb. 26, 2013

WHAT: American (10-17, 5-7 PL) at Bucknell (23-5, 10-2 PL)
WHERE: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. ET
TV: WNEP2 video camera
LIVE WEBCAST: Bison Vision video camera
RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader 

Bison to wear Beads of Courage
• This week the Bucknell men’s basketball program is promoting Beads of Courage. During Wednesday’s shootaround prior to the American game the Bison players and coaches will be wearing Beads of Courage, supporting children with serious illnesses.
• Beads of Courage is a clinical art program that provides pediatric patients with a length of string on which they add colorful beads. Each of the beads denotes a milestone in their treatment, such as a hospital stay, chemotherapy or a blood transfusion.
• Beads of Courage, headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., operates in 100 hospitals internationally. Geisinger Medical Center in Danville has implemented the program. Members of the Bison men’s basketball team make visits to the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger, and they will be doing so again after the season to help distribute more beads.
• For more information on Beads of Courage, visit beadsofcourage.org.

With a Win over American, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 11-2 in the Patriot League and clinch the No. 1 seed for the Patriot League Tournament. That would mean home-court advantage throughout the tournament.
• ... become the first team in Patriot League history to win three straight outright regular-season titles.
• ... earn the No. 1 seed for a record fifth time.
• ... improve to 24-5 on the season. The 24 wins would be tied for fourth-most in program history.
• ... give the seniors the new record for most wins by one class (88).
• ... win at least 11 Patriot League games for the third year in a row and for the ninth time as a member of the Patriot League.
• ... break the school record for most wins in a three-year period (74). The Bison won 73 games in 2004-05 (24), 2005-06 (27) and 2006-07 (22).
• ... defeat the Eagles for the eighth straight time.
• ... improve to 11-1 at home this season.
• ... improve to 109-33 all-time at Sojka Pavilion and 75-15 at Sojka against Patriot League opponents.

• Bucknell is on the brink of winning the outright Patriot League regular-season title for a record third straight season. After Sunday’s 74-57 win over Holy Cross, the Bison have reduced their “magic number” to one to claim the No. 1 seed for the Patriot League Tournament and home-court advantage througout the playoffs. Any combination of one Bucknell victory or one Lafayette loss over the final two games of the regular season would give the Bison the top seed.
• Bucknell is 10-2 in the Patriot League and has a two-game lead over both Lafayette and Lehigh with two games remaining. Lafayette can still claim the No. 1 seed but would need to win twice, have Bucknell lose twice, and have Lehigh stay ahead of Army in the standings. American is 5-7 in the Patriot League, tied for fifth place with Colgate. The Eagles cannot be seeded higher than fifth in the Patriot League Tournament.
• Through Monday’s games, Bucknell is tied for 8th nationally with 23 victories. Bucknell is tied for the national lead with Stony Brook and Stephen F. Austin with 11 road victories.
Bucknell in the rankings:
Associated Press Poll: NR
USA Today Coaches’ Poll: NR
CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll: 9
ESPN.com Mid-Major Poll: 6
RPI (from RPIforecast.com): 52
Ken Pomeroy computer ranking: 60
Jeff Sagarin computer ranking: 74
Bryson Johnson and Mike Muscala were both named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team, and Muscala went on to earn national Academic All-America (third team) honors last week. Muscala became Bucknell’s 123rd Academic All-American, fifth-most among all Division I programs. In addition, Muscala was recently named one of 10 national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. Johnson and Muscala both made the Dean’s List in the fall semester, and they grabbed two of the five All-District spots.
• The Bison have been outstanding defensively this season. Opponents are averaging only 58.5 points per game, and Bucknell has held 19 of its last 26 foes under 40% shooting.
Mike Muscala is in the midst of an outstanding senior year for the Bison, and he has garnered frequent national mentions throughout the season. An All-America and NBA Draft candidate, Muscala leads the Bison in scoring (19.4), rebounding (11.3), assists (2.5), blocks (2.6) and FG% (.524). He leads the league in scoring, rebounding and blocks and ranks in the top 25 nationally in each of those categories (3rd reb., 21st pts., 20th blk.).
• Muscala is the only player in the country averaging at least 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.
• This week Muscala was selected as one of 25 candidates for the Lou Henson Award, which is presented annually to the top Mid-Major player in Division I college basketball.
• Muscala recorded his 1,000th career rebound last week, putting him in the exclusive 1,000-point, 1,000-rebound club. Muscala is the second Bucknell player ever to record 1,000 rebounds (Hal Danzig had 1,134 from 1956-59), and he joined former Colgate star Adonal Foyle as the only Patriot Leaguers ever to reach that milestone.
Cameron Ayers (12.5), Bryson Johnson (11.4) and Joe Willman (10.5) are also scoring in double figures for the Bison, who average 67.4 ppg.
• Ayers is on 1,000-point watch. He is just six points shy of that milestone, which would give Bucknell four 1,000-point scorers on the same team for the first time in program history.
• Muscala needs 32 points to equal Al Leslie’s all-time Bucknell scoring record. Lesie scored 1,973 points from 1977-81. Muscala enters the game with 1,941 points.
• The Bison opened the campaign with wins over Purdue and George Mason, and then swept Niagara, New Mexico State and West Alabama at the Niagara Subregional of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project. Bucknell won all three of those games by double figures and improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2005-06. The first loss of the season came at Penn State on Nov. 23. The only other setbacks have come at the hands of Princeton, Missouri and Lehigh.
• Bucknell returned four starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s 25-10 squad. The lone graduated starter was 6’5” guard Bryan Cohen, who won each of the last three Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year awards. Despite that loss, the experienced Bison start three seniors and two juniors. Bucknell has used the same starting five in every game this season, and that quintet has a combined 562 career games played.
• After falling to Bucknell on Muscala’s last second shot at Bender Arena on Jan. 30, American went on to win three of its next four games, beating Lafayette, Colgate and Holy Cross. But now the Eagles have dropped two straight to Navy and Army and will be on the road for the Patriot League quarterfinals for the first time.
• American features one of the league’s premier frontcourt players in Stephen Lumpkins, who leads the team in scoring (14.7), rebounding (9.6) and blocks (1.1). Daniel Munoz, who hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Holy Cross in their last win, also scores in double figures at 10.5 ppg and leads the team in assists at 3.7 apg.

How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-American game will be televised live on WNEP2 in Central and Northeast PA. (Click HERE for WNEP2 channel listing). Jim Coles and former Bison assistant coach Don Friday will call the action. A live webcast will also be available on Bison Vision via BucknellBison.com and on Patriot League All-Access via Patriot League.com.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong and Ed Sigl ‘84 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 on GameTracker at BucknellBison.com.
• Be sure to follow @BisonSports on Twitter for in-game updates.

Bucknell vs. American
• Bucknell has an overall 32-20 lead in an all-time series with American that includes some historic dates. The very first meeting on Jan. 14, 1939 also happened to be the first game ever played in Davis Gym (AU won 38-33). Coincidentally, American was also the opponent for the very last game ever played in Davis Gym on Jan. 11, 2003 (a 63-52 Bison win).
• Bucknell has won 18 of 24 series meetings in Lewisburg, including 10 out of 11 at Sojka Pavilion, but the Bison are just 6-6 at Bender Arena since American joined the Patriot League in 2001-02.
• As Patriot League rivals, Bucknell leads 17-8. The Bison defeated American eight straight times during one stretch, including victories in the 2005 and 2006 PL Tournament semifinals.
• After American swept the season series in 2008-09, the Bison returned the favor in each of the last three seasons and have won seven straight over the Eagles. Bucknell’s seniors are 7-0 against AU.
• Bucknell won two close games against American last season, 67-61 at Sojka Pavilion and 55-50 at Bender Arena. Mike Muscala recorded 21 points and 12 rebounds in the home victory and then had 26 points and 14 boards in the win at AU.
• Back on Jan. 30 in D.C., Bucknell somehow pulled out a 56-55 victory on Muscala’s put-back with 0.8 seconds left. The Bison scored the game’s final eight points after trailing 55-48 inside two minutes to play. Bucknell won despite going 11-for-24 from the foul line and 1-for-10 from 3-point distance. Muscala led the way with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Cameron Ayers added 14 points. Daniel Munoz led American with 13.

Patriot League Success
• Bucknell is 209-96 (.685) all-time in Patriot League regular-season games, the best record of any league team. They have finished at least .500 in PL play in 18 of 22 seasons (and are guaranteed at least a .500 finish this year).
• Bucknell has won the last two Patriot League regular-season titles, and it is trying to become the first team to win three outright titles in a row.
• The Bison went 13-1 in the league in 2011 and 12-2 last year, making them 25-3 over those two seasons. Dating back to mid-2010, Bucknell has won 42 of its last 49 league games.
• Bucknell won Patriot League Tournament titles in 2005, 2006 and 2011. The Bison have made it to the semifinals 17 times and to the championship game nine times in the 22-year history of the league.
• The Bison are the only team to go unbeaten in league play in a season (14-0 in 2006).

Seniors Looking for Class Record
• The Class of 2013 has 87 wins, equalling the record also held by the Class of 2007, which featured Abe Badmus, Donald Brown, John Clark and Chris McNaughton.
• The Class of 2013 has an overall record of 87-41 (.680) and a Patriot League record of 44-10 (.815).
• This class has been part of teams that have won a Patriot League Tournament title and two Patriot League regular-season titles. They have competed in an NCAA Tournament and an NIT.
• This class has combined for 439 games played, 4,466 points and 1,981 rebounds over the last four years.
• The trio of Muscala, Johnson and Willman have played in 382 of a possible 384 combined games over the last four seasons.
• The senior class combined for a 3.53 GPA in the fall semester.

Last Time Out
• Bucknell celebrated Senior Day in style with a 74-57 victory over Holy Cross at Sojka Pavilion on Sunday. The Bison never trailed in the game, and it was tied only once at 2-2. Holy Cross cut a 15-point deficit down to seven by halftime, but Bucknell broke it open with an 11-2 run early in the second half and would lead by as many as 21.
Mike Muscala led the way with 25 points on 11-for-16 shooting. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
Joe Willman added 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Cameron Ayers went 4-for-5 from the 3-point arc and scored 15 points along with three assists.
• Ayers hit three of Bucknell’s six second-half 3-pointers. The Bison finished 7-for-16 from the arc and shot 47.7% overall and 52.9% in the second half.
• After starting the same five players in each of the first 27 games of the season, Bucknell had a lineup change in this one, with Steven Kaspar replacing Ryan Hill at point guard. Kaspar made his only shot attempt and also had five rebounds and three assists.
• The Bison had 18 assists on 31 made field goals while committing only five turnovers.
• Holy Cross center Dave Dudzinski scored 26 points against Bucknell in the first meeting between the two teams last month, but this time the Bison held Dudzinski to four points on 1-for-5 shooting.

Milestone Watch
• Several Bison are chasing significant milestones:
Mike Muscala needs 32 points to become Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer (Al Leslie had 1,973) and 59 to become the program’s first 2,000-point scorer.
• Muscala needs 71 rebounds to equal Adonal Foyle’s Patriot League career record of 1,103.
• Muscala needs 15 blocked shots to catch school record-holder Mike Butts, who had 278.
Cameron Ayers needs 6 points for 1,000 in his career.

Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell wraps up the regular-season on Saturday at Navy at 7 p.m.
• The Bison defeated Navy 69-54 at Sojka Pavilion on Feb. 2.