Hoops Returns to Sojka as Bison Men Host George Mason Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Joe Willman

Nov. 12, 2012

WHAT: George Mason (1-0) at Bucknell (1-0)
WHERE: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m. ET
LIVE WEBCAST: Bison Vision video camera
RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
PROMOTIONS: Applebees Spirit Night
TICKETS: Buy online
or call 570-577-1000
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

With a Win over George Mason, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2007-08 (Albany, Towson).
• ... win its home opener for the fourth year in a row.
• ... avenge last season’s 61-57 loss to the Patriots.
• ... improve to 99-32 all-time at Sojka Pavilion.

• Two teams coming off opening-night wins over major-conference opponents square off on Tuesday when George Mason visits Bucknell at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison kicked off the season with a 70-65 win at Purdue, while the Patriots topped Virginia at home, 63-59.
• This is a matchup of two of the nation’s top mid-major programs. Bucknell and George Mason combined for a 49-19 overall record and 26-6 conference mark a year ago.
• Bucknell is now receiving votes in both the Associated Press (1) and USA Today (2) top-25 polls. ESPN’s Dick Vitale picked the Bison as his “Team of the Week.”
• The Bison were picked to finish second in the Patriot League behind Lehigh in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Senior center Mike Muscala and junior guard Cameron Ayers were both Preseason All-Patriot League selections.
• Bucknell returns four starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s squad. The lone graduated starter is 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, with another senior and junior among the top reserves.
• George Mason was picked third in the CAA preseason poll, behind Drexel and Delaware. Two starters and several key reserves are back for Mason. Sherrod Wright, who contributed 9.6 ppg as the team’s sixth man last season, was a Preseason All-CAA choice. Wright led the team with 15 points in the win over Virginia, while Bryon Allen added 13 and Johnny Williams 11. The Patriots shot 54.5% from the field, 50.0% from 3-point range against the Cavaliers.

How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-George Mason game will not be televised, however a live video webcast will air on Bison Vision via BucknellBison.com (subscription fees 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 on GameTracker via BucknellBison.com.

Bucknell vs. George Mason Series Notes
• The Bison are 3-7 all-time against George Mason in a series that dates back to the 1984-85 season.
• This will be George Mason’s first game in Sojka Pavilion, and its first visit to Lewisburg since the 1998-99 season. That year Bucknell prevailed 98-86 in double-overtime in Davis Gym.
• Last season’s meeting at the Patriot Center was quite a game, with George Mason prevailing 61-57. Bucknell was down 60-57 with the ball in the final 35 seconds, but Mike Muscala’s potential tying 3-pointer was off the mark. Cameron Ayers hit five treys and scored a career-high 23 points, while Muscala had 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Bison. Mason was led by 16 points from Ryan Pearson, 14 from Sherrod Wright and 12 from Bryon Allen.
• Bucknell’s last series victory came on Dec. 3, 2006 as part of the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The Bison won that one 60-57 behind 16 points and nine rebounds from Donald Brown. That victory was Bucknell’s first over a team that played in the Final Four the previous season since Feb. 5, 1959. That year the Bison defeated Temple 79-72 after the Owls had advanced to the 1958 national semifinals.

Bucknell vs. Colonial Athletic Association
• Bucknell is 107-78 (.578) against current members of the Colonial Athletic Association, with most of those games coming against former East Coast Conference rivals Delaware (52-34), Hofstra (19-10), Towson (17-8) and Drexel (15-15). The Bison are also 3-7 against George Mason, 1-2 against Old Dominion and 0-2 vs. James Madison.
• Bucknell is 3-3 against the CAA over the last four seasons, with the wins coming against Delaware, Old Dominion and Drexel.

Last Time Out
• The Bison opened up the 2012-13 season on a positive note, using strong play down the stretch to hold off Purdue 70-65 before 13,090 fans at Mackey Arena on Friday as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project. Bucknell trailed by as many as seven in the first half, by six at the half and by three with five minutes left, but the Bison outscored the Boilermakers 16-8 in the final five minutes.
Cameron Ayers had a big night for the Bison, leading all players with 18 points to go with seven rebounds. Ayers scored 10 points in the second half, nine of them coming on traditional 3-point plays. Each of those “and-1s” gave Bucknell the lead.
Mike Muscala recorded his 25th career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Muscala became the ninth player in school history to eclipse 1,400 career points.
Bryson Johnson chipped in 14 points and three assists, and he did not commit a turnover in 37 minutes of action. Johnson canned Bucknell’s only two 3-pointers of the night, the second of which was one of the biggest shots of the game. It capped a 7-0 run with Muscala on the bench in foul trouble and gave the Bison a 61-57 lead with 4:11 to play.
• Johnson and Joe Willman (9 pts., 7 reb.) hit critical free throws in the final seconds. Johnson hit two with 9.5 seconds left that stretched a 1-point lead up to three. After a Purdue miss, Willman grabbed the rebound and iced it with two more charity tosses with 1.3 seconds remaining.
• Bucknell committed only eight turnovers in the game and got excellent point-guard play from Ryan Hill (6 pts., 3 asst., 3 reb.) and Steven Kaspar (3 pts., 2 reb.). The two point men had only three turnovers in 40 combined minutes.
• After struggling early on the defensive glass, Bucknell got stronger on the boards as the game progressed and finished with a 36-33 rebounding advantage.
• Both teams struggled from 3-point distance. The Bison were 2-for-10, while Purdue finished 2-for-16. Only two players in the game hit a three. Johnson had both Bison treys, while D.J. Byrd hit both of Purdue’s. After two Bucknell defenders collided and went to the floor, Byrd was left with an open three to tie it in the final seconds, but his shot was off the mark.
• The victory was Bucknell’s first against a Big Ten member in 18 tries. The Bison do have 24 all-time wins against Penn State, but all of them came before the Nittanly Lions joined the Big Ten.
• Purdue had won 26 straight non-conference home games and had been 79-9 in home openers at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers had never before lost to a Patriot League team.

Milestone Watch
• Several Bison are chasing significant milestones:
Mike Muscala needs 560 points to become Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer (Al Leslie had 1,973) and 587 to become the program’s first 2,000-point scorer. He tallied 596 points last season.
• Muscala needs 275 rebounds to join Hal Danzig as the only players in program history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
• Muscala needs only six more made free throws to match Bill Courtney’s program record of 400.
• Muscala needs 87 blocked shots to catch school record-holder Mike Butts, who had 278.
Bryson Johnson needs 42 3-point field goals to equal Kevin Bettencourt’s Bucknell career record of 294.
Joe Willman needs 188 points for 1,000 in his career.
Cameron Ayers needs 337 points for 1,000 in his career.

• Bucknell has never had four 1,000-point scorers on the same roster before, but that could happen this year if Joe Willman and Cameron Ayers can reach that milestone. Mike Muscala and Bryson Johnson both hit the century mark last season.

Sojka Savvy
• Bucknell once again did well to protect its home floor in 2011-12. Bucknell went 14-3 at Sojka Pavilion last season, with all three of the losses coming two NCAA Tournament teams (two to Lehigh, one to Loyola).
• All-time at Sojka Pavilion, Bucknell is 98-32 (.754) overall and 69-13 (.841) against Patriot League opponents.

Sojka Pavilion Turns 10
• It’s hard to believe, but Bucknell’s “brand new” Sojka Pavilion actually turns 10 years old this season. The first game in the facility was played on Jan. 15, 2003.

Free Throws on Target
• In 2010-11, Bucknell broke a school record and ranked third in all of Division I basketball with a .788 free-throw percentage. The Bison nearly matched that figure last year, when they ranked fourth nationally at .774.
• Each of the team’s top three scorers shot well over 80% from the line last season (Mike Muscala .853, Cameron Ayers .827, Joe Willman .855).

Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell heads to Niagara for three games in three days as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project.
• The Bison will play subregional host Niagara on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by New Mexico State on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and West Alabama on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.