WHAT: Cornell (4-7) at Bucknell (8-6)
WHERE: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET
PROMOTIONS: Applebee's Spirit Day, Junior Bison Club Party
LIVE WEBCAST: Bison Vision
RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: GameTracker
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
With a Win over Cornell, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 9-6 on the season.
• ... improve to 6-1 at home this season.
• ... avoid its first two-hame home losing streak since 2009-10.
• ... defeat the Big Red for the second straight year and improve to 24-23 all-time against them.
• ... improve to 90-30 all-time at Sojka Pavilion.
• ... in its 26th game of 2011, which would be a new school record (Bucknell also won 25 games in the 2005 calendar year.
• After seeing its 18-game home winning streak come to an end on Wednesday in a 72-67 loss to Loyola, Bucknell looks to get a new streak started on Saturday against 4-7 Cornell.
• The Bison welcome back an old friend to Sojka Pavilion, as Bucknell Hall-of-Famer Bill Courtney ‘92 is in his second year as head coach at Cornell. At Bucknell, Courtney was a two-year co-captain, and his 1,499 career points rank No. 8 on the school’s all-time list. His 619 points in 1990-91 is a Bucknell single-season record, and his 14.6 career scoring average ranks 10th all-time. He is also still the school record-holder for career free throws made (400). Courtney was inducted into the Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
• Mike Muscala reached 1,000 career points against Loyola on Wednesday. He is the 34th member of Bucknell’s 1,000-point club; the 17th in program history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds; and the third Bison with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 blocked shots.
• Muscala has surged ahead in the Bucknell team scoring race. After back-to-back 20-point games against Boston University and Loyola, Muscala is now averaging 14.4 points per game, sixth-best in the Patriot League. Cameron Ayers (12.6), Joe Willman (11.3) and Bryson Johnson (9.8) are not far behind.
• Muscala continues to lead the Bison in rebounding (9.1) and blocked shots (1.6). He leads the Patriot League in rebounding by a wide margin, and he has six double-doubles this season, including a 20-point, 11-rebound performance at Boston University last week.
• 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.
• Cornell comes in with a 4-7 overall record, 4-1 at home and 0-6 on the road. The Big Red have dropped three straight — all close losses on the road — to Illinois (64-60), Penn State (74-67) and Stony Brook (68-59 in OT). Cornell has played two Patriot League teams already, defeating Lehigh 81-79 in overtime and falling to American 65-63. Long-range specialist Drew Ferry (45-101 3FG) leads the team in scoring at 14.6 ppg.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Cornell game will not be televised, however a live webcast will be available on Bison Vision at BucknellBison.com (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 on GameTracker via BucknellBison.com.
Bucknell vs. Cornell
• The “Battle of the ‘Nells” has been tightly contested through the years, with the series tied at 23 wins apiece. The series dates all the way back to Cornell’s second year as a varsity program in 1899-1900, when Bucknell won 29-10 in Lewisburg (Bucknell also defeated a group of Cornell students two years earlier in 1898).
• The two teams have met every season since 1987-88, and during that current uninterrupted stretch Bucknell is 16-8 against the Big Red, including 10-2 at home.
• Last season in Ithaca, the Bison pulled away in the second half for a 75-64 victory behind 20 points and nine rebounds from Mike Muscala. Bryan Cohen had one of his best games of the season with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Joe Willman added 15 points and nine rebounds. Bucknell fought off a number of Cornell rallies but allowed only one field goal in the last four minutes to take control of a close game. Errick Peck led the Big Red with 21 points, while Max Groebe hit five 3-pointers and scored 15.
• The most recent game at Sojka Pavilion was a classic, with Cornell prevailing 104-98 in overtime in 2009-10. Five Bison scored in double figures, led by Darryl Shazier with 22 and then-freshman Muscala with 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Shazier’s buzzer-beater at the end of regulation sent the game to overtime, but the veteran Big Red outscored Bucknell 21-14 in extra time. Seven-foot center Jeff Foote had a monster night for Cornell with 28 points and 18 rebounds, while Ryan Wittman added 25 points. Cornell would later go on to the Sweet Sixteen at the NCAA Tournament.
Bucknell vs. The Ivy League
• Bucknell is 42-44 (.488) all-time against the Ivy League. The Bison have played 46 games against Cornell, but only 40 combined against the other seven Ivy teams. In addition to its 23-23 record against Cornell, Bucknell is 4-2 against Yale, 3-1 vs. Brown, 3-4 vs. Penn, 4-10 vs. Princeton, 2-1 vs. Dartmouth, 2-2 vs. Columbia and 1-1 vs. Harvard.
• The Bison are 4-1 against the Ivy League over the last last two seasons. A year ago they defeated Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth while falling to Princeton. This season Bucknell has a 62-56 win over Princeton, and the Bison will travel to Dartmouth on Jan. 3.
Last Time Out
• Bucknell and Loyola (Md.) engaged in an entertaining affair on Wednesday night at Sojka Pavilion, but the Greyhounds rallied late for a 72-67 win, ending Bucknell’s 18-game home winning streak.
• The loss spoiled a milestone night for Mike Muscala, who scored his 1,000th career point as part of a 24-point, eight-rebound outing.
• Bryan Cohen and Cameron Ayers also reached double figures with 11 points each.
• Bucknell led 64-61 with four minutes to play, but Loyola ended the game on an 11-3 run. The Bison had the ball down by two points, but Ayers missed a 3-point attempt with eight seconds left and Loyola iced it at the foul line.
• Muscala went 8-for-12 from the foul line, setting a career high for attempts.
• Bucknell shot 46.0% from the floor, went 4-for-8 from 3-point range and committed only nine turnovers, but the Bison allowed Loyola to shoot 52.9% and were outrebounded 36-25.
• Loyola became the first visiting team to shoot 50% against Bucknell at Sojka Pavilion since Wagner did so last Nov. 29. Not coincidentally, that was also Bucknell’s last home loss.
Stats Worth Noting
• Bucknell is shooting 50.6% as a team in its last five games.
• Even after being outrebounded by Loyola on Wednesday, Bucknell has been dominant on the glass of late. After going -15 in rebound margin against Minnesota and Vanderbilt to start the season, the Bison are +93 since then and have outrebounded every opponent except Syracuse and Loyola. Bucknell’s +5.5 rebound margin for the season is by far the best in the Patriot League.
• A big part of Bucknell’s rebounding success has been limiting opponents’ second chances. The Bison have held 11 of their last 14 foes to eight or fewer offensive rebounds.
• Bucknell did not allow any of its first 11 opponents to shoot 50% from the field, but now each of its last three foes have done so: Syracuse (.528), Boston University (.500) and Loyola (.529).
• 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 84.6% (66-78) as a team in the last four contests. That includes a 21-for-21 performance in the win over Richmond. Last year 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 73.4% this season.
• Bucknell has gotten a big lift so far from newcomers Brian Fitzpatrick and Steven Kaspar. Fitzpatrick, a junior forward in his first eligible season after transferring from Penn, is 21-for-36 (.583) from the floor and is averaging 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per game. Kaspar, a freshman point guard, has not scored much yet, but he leads the team and ranks in the top 10 in the Patriot League in both assists (43) and steals (18).
• 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.
• Kaspar’s seven assists against West Alabama were the most by a Bison freshman since Abe Badmus had eight against Navy in 2003-04.
• Johnson’s 15 3-pointers in the wins over West Alabama and Morehead State were a school record for most threes in consecutive games. Bucknell’s 17 treys in the West Alabama game set a school record.
Muscala in Elite Company
• Junior Mike Muscala has joined an elite fraternity of 1,000-point scorers at Bucknell. He is now one of 34 players in school history to reach the century mark and the first since John Griffin went over 1,000 in 2007-08.
• 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.
• Bucknell kicks off 2012 with a trip to Hanover, N.H., to face Dartmouth on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
• That will be the final non-conference game of the regular season for Bucknell. Patriot League play begins on Jan. 7 when the Bison travel to Army.