March 17, 2012
WHAT: #8 Bucknell (25-9) at #5 Nevada (27-6), NIT Second Round
WHERE: Lawlor Events Center, Reno, Nev.
WHEN: Sunday, March 18, 3 p.m. EDT
LOCAL RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM)
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
With a Win over Nevada, Bucknell Would ...
• ... advance to the quarterfinals of the NIT and face the winner of third-seeded Stanford and seventh-seeded Illinois State.
• ... improve to 2-0 all-time against the Western Athletic Conference.
• ... reach the 26-win plateau for the second time in program history (27 wins in 2005-06).
• ... improve to 26-9 overall.
• ... improve to 12-6 on the road this season.
• Bucknell and Nevada will battle for a spot in the NIT quarterfinals when they square off Sunday at the Lawlor Events Center. The eighth-seeded Bison, making their first-ever NIT appearance, advanced with a 65-54 win at No. 1 Arizona on Wednesday night. The fifth-seeded Wolf Pack also won on the road, 68-59 at No. 4 Oral Roberts.
• This will be the very first meeting between Bucknell and Nevada, and it is only the second time Bucknell has played a team from the Western Athletic Conference (66-56 win over Fresno State in consolation game of 1987 Holiday Bowl Classic in San Diego).
• The first-round win over Arizona marked fourth-year head coach Dave Paulsen’s first victory over a team from a BCS conference. From 2005-07, Bucknell earned wins over Pittsburgh, Syracuse, DePaul, Kansas and Arkansas, with the latter two coming in the NCAA Tournament.
• Bucknell won the Patriot League regular-season title with a 12-2 record, but after becoming the first team in league history to win both its quarterfinal and semifinal games by 20 or more points, the Bison fell to second-seeded Lehigh 82-77 at Sojka Pavilion on March 7.
• This is Bucknell’s sixth postseason appearance, with the other five coming at the NCAA Tournament. Most recently, the Bison earned an NCAA bid in 2011 and fell to eventual national champion Connecticut in the first round. Bucknell posted NCAA Tournament wins in both 2005 (Kansas) and 2006 (Arkansas), the only two NCAA wins in program and Patriot League history.
• Bucknell enters the Nevada game having won 17 of its last 20, 21 of its last 25, and 25 of its last 32. Since Dec. 1, 2010, Bucknell is 48-12.
• Junior center Mike Muscala is averaging 18.8 points over his last 24 games, including a monster 30-point, 14-rebound effort against Lehigh in the Patriot League championship game and a 20-point, 9-rebound, 4-block performance against Arizona. Muscala is averaging 16.8 points per game on the season, fourth best in the Patriot League. The last Bison to average better than 16 points per game was Bryan Bailey (17.4) back in 2001-02.
• Muscala continues to lead the Bison in rebounding (8.9) and blocked shots (1.7). He leads the Patriot League in rebounding by a wide margin, and he has 15 double-doubles this season, the most in the league. He is just one shy of the school record for double-doubles in a season. Muscala also has 13 20-point games this year.
• Nevada comes in with a 27-6 record. The Wolf Pack went 13-1 in the WAC and won the regular-season title, but they were upset by Louisiana Tech in the WAC tournament semifinals. Nevada has four players scoring in double figures, led by WAC Player of the Year Deonte Burton at 15.0 ppg. Malik Story has 90 3-pointers and scores 14.0 ppg. Dario Hunt is a force inside at 10.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Nevada game will be televised live on ESPNU and online on ESPN3. Mitch Holthus and Mark Adams will have the call for ESPN.
• The game can be heard in the Susquehanna Valley on the radio on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM), with Doug Birdsong describing the action. The pregame show begins 30 minutes before tip-off.
• Live statistics are available on GameTracker via BucknellBison.com.
Bucknell vs. Nevada and the WAC
• This will be Bucknell’s very first meeting with Nevada.
• This will also be Bucknell’s very first game played in the state of Nevada.
• The Bison are 1-0 all-time against teams currently in the Western Athletic Conference. Bucknell defeated Fresno State 66-56 on Dec. 28, 1987, in the consolation game of the Holiday Bowl Classic in San Diego.
Last Time Out
• Bucknell lead almost from start to finish in Wednesday’s NIT opener at top-seeded Arizona. The Bison sprinted to an early 13-point advantage (27-14) and led 32-26 at the half. The Wildcats took a couple of one-point leads early in the second, but the Bison got the lead back for good with 13:08 to play, and they put it away with a game-ending 9-0 run over the last 2:42.
• The most impressive aspect of that strong finish was that the 9-0 run came just after center Mike Muscala fouled out. Muscala had recorded 20 points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists before going to the bench with 2:59 to play.
• Bryson Johnson hit perhaps the biggest shot of the night. His fourth 3-pointer of the game was a bomb from the top of the key late in the shot clock with 50 seconds left in the game. That shot stretched a four-point lead up to seven, and it gave Johnson his 1,000th career point. Johnson finished the game with 14 points.
• Sophomore guard Cameron Ayers recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
• Ayers’ double-digit rebounding effort was part of a terrific night on the boards for Bucknell. The Bison finished with a 36-28 rebounding edge, including a 10-6 advantage on the offensive glass, which led to a 15-9 edge in second-chance points.
• Bryan Cohen had a strong night at both ends of the floor. He scored nine points, including two critical free throws in a 1-and-1 situation, upping a two-point lead to four with 2:42 to play. Cohen also primarily defended First Team All-Pac-12 guard Kyle Fogg, who did not score while Cohen was in the game and finished with a season-low five points on 2-for-5 shooting.
• Joe Willman was Bucknell’s fourth double-digit scorer with 10 points. Willman was responsible for the team’s strong start, as he scored six of Bucknell’s first eight points in the opening four minutes of the game.
• Bucknell shot 40.8% from the floor while holding Arizona to 35.4% shooting. The Wildcats made only seven second-half field goals (in 22 attempts), none in the final 5:50.
Stats Worth Noting
• Bucknell has attempted 150 fewer 3-point field goals than its opponents this season, but it has shot them at a much higher percentage (.395 to .343). Nevada has similar numbers. The Wolf Pack have tried 32 fewer treys than their foes while outshooting them .371 to .331.
• Mike Muscala this season has shot 54.4% from the field in Bucknell's 25 wins and 40.0% in the nine losses. Bryson Johnson is 44.8% from 3-point range in the wins but 30.4% in the losses.
• At the end of the regular season, Bucknell was averaging 4.0 steals and 9.7 forced turnovers per game, but the Bison drastically improved those figures in the postseason. In the three Patriot League Tournament games, they averaged 6.7 steals and 16.0 forced turnovers per game.
• Last year senior point guard Daryl Shazier racked up 185 assists, third most in program history. This year the Bison have replaced that production by committee. For the first time ever, Bucknell has six different players with at least 50 assists in a season: Bryan Cohen (83), Steven Kaspar (80), Cameron Ayers (62), Mike Muscala (60), Ryan Hill (56) and Joe Willman (53).
• Bucknell is now 17-3 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 against Lehigh on Feb. 16. The Bison led 29-27 at the break in that one. They are now 20-1 when leading at the half on the season.
• The Bison have shot 50% or better from the field 13 times this season and are 13-0 in those games. Nationally, Bucknell ranks 55th in FG%, 13th in 3FG% and 5th in FT%.
• Bucknell leads the Patriot League in both field goal percentage (.463) and field goal percentage defense (.394). The latter figure ranks 24th nationally.
• In the last 20 games, Bison opponents are shooting 37.9% (395-1041). Only six of those 20 teams (Dartmouth, Army, Lafayette twice, Navy, Lehigh) have eclipsed 40%.
• If the season ended today, Bucknell’s average scoring defense of 60.9 would rank ninth in program history.
• 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 +244 since then and have outrebounded every opponent except Syracuse, Loyola, Lehigh, American and Holy Cross. Bucknell’s +6.7 rebound margin for the season is by far the best in the Patriot League and ranks 13th nationally.
• A big part of Bucknell’s rebounding success has been limiting opponents’ second chances. The Bison have held 25 of their 34 foes to eight or fewer offensive rebounds. Bucknell has rebounded 76.8% of their opponents’ missed shots, the best percentage in the nation. This will be key on Sunday, as Nevada averages over 12 offensive boards per game.
• Bucknell has been terrific at the free-throw line after a slow start. After shooting just 68.5% at the line in their first 10 games, the Bison have made 80.4% (393-489) as a team in the last 24 contests. That includes a 21-for-21 performance in the win over Richmond, 19-for-19 in the Patriot League semifinal win over Lafayette, 15-for-15 in the regular-season road 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 No. 5 nationally at 77.2% this season.
Muscala, Cohen, Johnson in Elite Company
• Juniors Mike Muscala and Bryson Johnson and senior Bryan Cohen have all joined an elite fraternity of 1,000-point scorers at Bucknell this season. Muscala reached the milestone on Dec. 28 against Loyola; Cohen hit his 1,000th point on Jan. 25 vs. American; and Johnson just got his 1,000th point on Wednesday at Arizona. Bucknell now has 36 members of the 1,000-point club.
• Muscala also became the 17th player in program history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds, and the third with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocked shots (see p. 6 for complete charts).
• With his 30-point performance against Lehigh in the Patriot League championship game, Muscala moved into the top 10 on Bucknell’s career scoring list, and he became just the sixth player in program history to record 550 points in a season.
• Muscala now has 304 rebounds this season, making him just the seventh player in program history to record 300 or more. The last to do it was Craig Greenwood (340) in 1968-69.
• Senior Bryan Cohen needs 13 rebounds for 500 in his career.
• Junior Bryson Johnson recently moved past Griffin for second place on Bucknell’s career list for made 3-pointers. He needs 45 more to catch Kevin Bettencourt for first on that list.
• This game will be Bucknell’s 35th of the season, a new program record. Cohen, Mike Muscala, Cameron Ayers, Joe Willman, Brian Fitzpatrick and Steven Kaspar would all tie individual single-season games-played records when they take the floor on Sunday.
Who’s Got Next?
• Should Bucknell defeat Nevada, it would face the winner of No. 3 Stanford and No. 7 Illinois State on Wednesday, March 21 at a time to be determined.