ETSU men’s basketball gears up for Asheville Championship

Published 4:01 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022

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Bucs take on Elon Friday at 8:30 p.m.; Face Louisiana or Harvard on Sunday

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The ETSU men’s basketball team has its eyes set on another MTE title as the Buccaneers make the short trek over the mountain to play in the Asheville Championship. ETSU opens play in the tournament Friday night when the Bucs take on Elon at 8:30 p.m. inside Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville.


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ETSU is coming off an 88-66 win over Emory & Henry Monday night in the season opener … The Buccaneer bench provided 52 points as Justice Smith scored a game-high 20 points and Brock Jancek added 14 points and seven rebounds … The Bucs led wire-to-wire as the Blue and Gold went into the break up by 14 points and eventually led by as many as 24 (74-48), before cruising to the 22-point win … ETSU made 35 field goals and shot 46 percent from the field … The Bucs were plus-10 on the boards (44-34) and turned 26 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points, while also forcing 23 turnovers and cashing those miscues into 35 points.


To go with its 22-point win over Emory & Henry on Monday night, ETSU captured its 61st season-opening win in the 104-year history of the program, while the Blue and Gold have won 38 of their last 42 home openers … The 88 points scored marked the most by the Bucs in a season opener since netting 96 in the 2016-17 season-opening win over Fordham … Justice Smith was the first Buccaneer to open a season with a 20-point game since 2019-20 when Tray Boyd III netted 20 against Newberry on Nov. 6, 2019 … ETSU’s 52 bench points marked the most since Dec. 29, 2019 when the Bucs posted 54 off the bench in a 117-48 victory over Mars Hill.


ETSU captured its fifth preseason title since the start of the 2016-17 season when the Bucs won the inaugural Naples Invitational last season … ETSU completed the “All State” run with wins over Murray State, Missouri State and Kent State … In 2016, the Bucs won the Sanford Pentagon Showcase in South Dakota with wins over Milwaukee, South Dakota State and UC Irvine, followed by winning the 2018 Sun Bowl Classic (wins over Wyoming and Norfolk State) and Cayman Island Classic Mainland (wins over Chicago State and Sam Houston State), and the 2019 Maui Invitational Mainland (wins over Delaware State and Southern Utah).


For the Buccaneer faithful, Harrah’s Cherokee Center is a home away from home … ETSU has had a lot of recent success inside this building as the Blue and Gold captured the Southern Conference Championship in 2017 and capped off their historic 30-4 season in 2019-20 with another SoCon title … Since 2015-16, the Bucs have played 17 games inside Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville with ETSU winning 12 of those contests, including the two league titles.


Through the first couple days of the season, ETSU’s 26 offensive rebounds are the most by any Division I team this season, while ETSU also ranks 22nd nationally in turnovers forced per game (23) and 35th in turnover margin (+10) … Individually, Justice Smith ranks 23rd in field goal percentage (.900) and Brock Jancek is 37th (.857) … Jaden Seymour and Josh Taylor both rank 40th in offensive rebounds per game (5.0).


It took one game in his new home for Brock Jancek to double up his career scoring total from his time at Tennessee … In 17 career games with the Vols, Jancek scored seven career points … In Monday’s 22-point win over Emory & Henry, Jancek finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.


Justice Smith and Brock Jancek were nearly unstoppable on Monday night as they combined for 34 points on 15-of-17 shooting off the bench … In total, the Buccaneer bench scored 52 points and accounted for 20 of ETSU’s 35 made field goals.


Justice Smith’s 20-point performance was nothing new for the Buccaneer transfer … In his one season at Division II Mansfield University, Smith scored in double figures in 24 of his 28 games played, including 13 games scoring 20 or more points … In total, Smith scored 578 points at Mansfield, ranking second all-time in single-season history, while he also had a Mansfield single-game record 56 points against Bloomsburg on Feb. 2, 2022.


Since Feb. 16, 1987 in a game against Davidson, the Bucs have made at least one 3-pointer in 1,093 consecutive games … ETSU was 0-for-8 in that 1987 game … The Bucs currently have the fourth-longest streak in the NCAA, with UNLV topping the list with 1,162 games.



Like the Bucs, Elon enters the tournament with a 1-0 record as the Phoenix defeated Erskine 80-55 in Monday’s opener

 Torrence Watson scored a team-high 16 points, while also grabbing nine rebounds and four assists, while Deandre Smart pitched in with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and JaDun Michael netted 12 points in 21 minutes of work

 As a team, Elon shot 43 percent from the floor (28-65) and outrebounded Erskine by 17, 49-32 … The Phoenix grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and turned those into 20 second-chance points … Elon also forced 18 turnovers and scored 19 points off those miscues

 Elon returns seven letterwinners from last year’s team including five upperclassmen … Graduate student Torrence Watson and senior Zac Ervin are Elon’s top returning scorers from a year ago as they averaged 9.2 and 7.1 points, respectively

 The Phoenix brought in a pair of graduate transfers in Sean Halloran from Belmont Abbey and John Bowen III from UNCW … Halloran finished as Belmont Abbey’s all-time assist leader and scored 1,422 points … Bowen averaged 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 28 games (27 starts) for UNCW in 2018-19

 Elon was picked to finish 12th in the CAA Preseason Poll

 Elon is led by first-year head coach Billy Taylor as he became the program’s 19th head coach back on April 15, 2022 … Taylor spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Iowa



Friday marks a former SoCon showdown as the only four prior meetings occurred when both teams were in the league … ETSU has won three of the four meetings, while Elon won the most-recent matchup – an 80-72 decision back on Feb. 7, 2005 at Elon … The Bucs won the first three meetings beginning with a 75-72 victory on Jan. 19, 2004 … ETSU swept the 2003-04 series with a 73-58 win on Feb. 14, 2004 in Johnson City … In 2004-05, ETSU won the first matchup with a 79-67 victory inside the Mini Dome … In the last meeting, Tim Smith went off for 32 points on 14-of-27 shooting, while Ben Rhoda added 18 points and five rebounds … Three-point shooting was the difference maker as the Phoenix were plus-5 from beyond the arc (9 to 4), while Elon was also plus-5 in made free throws (19 to 14).



Fans can watch Friday’s game on ESPN+ with Mark Neely and Tim Welsh on the call


Friday’s game will also be broadcast on WXSM-AM 640 and 104.9 NASH ICON with Voice of the Bucs Jay Sandos on the call, starting with the Atmos Energy Pregame show at 8 p.m.


Live stats will also be available via StatBroadcast



DATE:Friday, Nov. 11

TIME: 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION: Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville (Asheville, N.C.)

TEAMS: ETSU (1-0) vs. Elon (1-0)


BROADCAST TEAM: Mark Neely (play-by-play), Tim Welsh (analyst)


RADIO TEAM: Voice of the Bucs Jay Sandos




Fans can purchase season tickets by calling the ETSU ticket office at 423-439-3878 or by visiting



The winner of Friday’s game will take on the winner of Harvard-Louisiana in Sunday’s championship at 4:30 p.m. … The third-place game is scheduled for 2 p.m. … Both games will be televised on ESPNU.

 For more information on Buccaneer men’s basketball, visit and click on the men’s basketball tab.