Dec. 31, 2012
WHAT: Bucknell (12-2) at Cornell (6-8)
WHERE: Newman Arena, Ithaca, N.Y.
WHEN: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 7 p.m. ET
LIVE WEBCAST: CornellBigRed.com
RADIO: Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM) and SportsJuice.com
LIVE STATS: CornellBigRed.com
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
With a Win over Cornell, Bucknell Would ...
• ... improve to 13-2 on the season, which would equal the best 15-game start in program history (the 1983-84 team also started 13-2).
• ... defeat the Big Red for the third straight year and improve to 25-23 all-time against them.
• ... improve to 6-2 on the road this season.
• ... improve to 9-1 in its last 10 games against the Ivy League.
• Bucknell heads to Ithaca, N.Y., on Wednesday to face former Bison star Bill Courtney and his Cornell Big Red. The Bison are coming off a decisive 66-46 road win over Loyola (Md.) on Friday, while Cornell has won two straight over Saint Francis (Pa.) and Binghamton to improve to 6-8 on the season.
• Bucknell is in the midst of a tough four-game road stretch that takes it to Princeton, Loyola, Cornell and No. 12 Missouri.
• At 12-2, Bucknell has equalled the best 14-game start in program history. The Bison were also 12-2 in 1901-02 and 1983-84.
• Bucknell in the rankings:
Associated Press Poll: NR
USA Today Coaches’ Poll: RV
CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll: 6
RPI (from RPIforecast.com): 32
Ken Pomeroy computer ranking: 46
Jeff Sagarin computer ranking: 41
• Bucknell just completed the 2012 calendar year with a 28-6 record, a new school record for wins in a calendar year. The previous mark was 26 wins in 2011.
• The Bison have been outstanding defensively this season. Opponents are averaging only 58.9 points per game, and Bucknell had held 10 straight foes under 40% shooting from the field until Princeton ended that streak on Dec. 22. The Bison bounced back last time out against Loyola (Md.), holding the Greyhounds to a season-low 46 points and 35.7% shooting.
• Mike Muscala had a December to remember for the Bison. In seven games in the month of December, Muscala averaged 22.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.4 blocks (all team highs). He had a pair of 29-point games in road wins over Loyola (Md.) and Columbia, and he also pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds in that Columbia game. Muscala had a 27-point effort against Kent State, 26 against Marist, and 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three blocks vs. La Salle.
• Muscala enters the game tied for third (with Mike Bright) on Bucknell’s career scoring list with 1,670 career points.
• There are only two players in all of Division I basketball who are leading his team in points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots. They are Muscala and Princeton’s Ian Hummer, who just squared off last week at Jadwin Gym.
• Bryson Johnson (11.4), Cameron Ayers (11.3) and Joe Willman (11.1) are also scoring in double figures. Willman had his best game of the year with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the win over La Salle, and he was named Patriot League Player of the Week for the first time in his career after that performance.
• 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 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 returned four starters and 11 lettermen from last year’s 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’s starting five has a combined 502 career games played.
• Cornell comes in with a 6-8 record, but four of its losses are to BCS-level opponents (Wisconsin, Arizona State, Duke, Vanderbilt). The Big Red have won their only game against Patriot League competition, 70-63 over Colgate at home on Dec. 1. Bucknell and Cornell have played one common opponent so far. Both teams defeated Saint Francis (Pa.) in Loretto.
• Cornell has gotten very balanced scoring this season. Shonn Miller leads the team at 9.9 ppg, but seven players are averaging at least 5.0 ppg. Eitan Chemerinski (8.4), Johnathan Gray (8.4) and Errick Peck (8.2) all top at least 8.0 ppg. Miller is also the team’s top rebounder at 7.9 rpg.
• Bucknell Hall-of-Famer Bill Courtney ‘92 is in his third year as head coach at Cornell. At Bucknell, Courtney was a two-year co-captain, and his 1,499 career points rank No. 9 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 was the school record-holder for career free throws made (400) until Muscala broke that mark earlier this season. Courtney was inducted into the Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
How to Get the Game
• The Bucknell-Cornell game will not be televised, however a live video webcast will air at CornellBigRed.com.
• 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 at CornellBigRed.com.
Bucknell vs. Cornell
• The “Battle of the ‘Nells” has been tightly contested through the years, with Bucknell holding a slim 24-23 series lead. 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 17-8 against the Big Red, including 11-2 at home.
• Last year at Sojka Pavilion, Mike Muscala scored all 18 of his points in the second half and led a terrific effort on the glass with 13 rebounds to propel Bucknell to a 63-60 win. Bryan Cohen added 13 points and Bryson Johnson had 12, including a big 3-pointer late in the game. The Bison struggled early against Cornell’s aggressive trapping defense and trailed 25-20 at the half, but they got it going in the second half and rallied for the victory. Johnathan Gray led Cornell with 18 points.
• In the last meeting in Ithaca two years ago, the Bison pulled away in the second half for a 75-64 victory behind 20 points and nine rebounds from Muscala. Cohen had one of his best games as a Bison 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.
Bucknell vs. The Ivy League
• Bucknell is 46-45 (.505) all-time against the Ivy League, including a 2-1 mark this season. The Bison have played 47 games against Cornell, but only 44 combined against the other seven Ivy teams. In addition to its 24-23 record against Cornell, Bucknell is 4-2 against Yale, 3-1 vs. Brown, 3-4 vs. Penn, 4-1 vs. Dartmouth, 4-11 vs. Princeton, 3-2 vs. Columbia and 1-1 vs. Harvard.
• The Bison had won eight straight games against Ivy League foes until falling at Princeton 79-67 on Dec. 22. Earier in the year Bucknell rallied from 17 points down to beat Columbia (65-57) on the road, and the Bison defeated Dartmouth 62-49 at home.
• The Bison are 8-2 against the Ivy League since the start of the 2010-11 season, with both losses coming to Princeton.
Last Time Out
• Bucknell rebounded from a tough loss at Princeton with one of its most complete performances of the season, a 66-46 rout of Loyola (Md.) in front of a sellout crowd at Reitz Arena in Baltmore. Loyola came in with a 9-3 record and was ranked 20th in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll. The Greyhounds were 24-9 and won the MAAC title a year ago.
• Mike Muscala turned in another magnificent performance, finishing with 29 points and eight rebounds. Muscala set a new career high with 13 made field goals and tied his career high with 21 attempts. Muscala also broke Boakai Lalugba’s career record for free-throw attempts.
• Bryson Johnson (11), Joe Willman (10) and Cameron Ayers (10) also reached double figures in the scoring column. Willman had eight rebounds, and Johnson dished out a career-high five assists.
• After a slow start, Bucknell really tightened up the defense over the last 35 minutes of the contest. Loyola made layups on its first five possessions of the night and started the game 8-for-10 from the floor. But after that the Greyhounds went just 12-for-46 (.261).
• Both teams were chilly from the 3-point arc. Bucknell was 1-for-8, while Loyola was 1-for-12.
• The Bison shot 49.1% from the floor, Loyola 35.7%. The Greyhounds also helped out the Bison by missing six of their 11 free-throw attempts, while Bucknell went 13-for-14.
• Bucknell entered the game ranked fourth nationally in fewest turnovers, and it committed only nine against Loyola, which pressed full-court for most of the game.
• The Bison limited Loyola’s go-to players. Top scorer Dylon Cormier, guarded primarily by Johnson, was held to 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting. MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Erik Etherly was limited to three points on 1-for-6 shooting, primarily by Willman. And Ayers kept long-range sharpshooter Robert Olson without a 3-pointer and to just six total points on 3-for-11 shooting.
Starting Off on the Right Foot
• Bucknell’s 12-2 start matches the best in program history. The 1983-84 and 1901-02 teams were also 12-2 after 14 games.
• If Bucknell can defeat Cornell to get to 13-2, it would also equal the best 15-game start in program history. The 1983-84 team was also 13-2.
• Bucknell has become just the third team in Patriot League history to record 12 non-league wins in a season, joining Fordham (1990-91) and Lehigh (2011-12). The Bison have two chances to become the first team to get 13 non-league wins.
• Several Bison are chasing significant milestones:
• Mike Muscala needs 303 points to become Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer (Al Leslie had 1,973) and 330 to become the program’s first 2,000-point scorer.
• Muscala needs 136 rebounds to join Hal Danzig as the only players in program history with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
• Muscala needs 53 blocked shots to catch school record-holder Mike Butts, who had 278.
• Bryson Johnson needs 13 3-point field goals to equal Kevin Bettencourt’s Bucknell career record of 294.
• Joe Willman needs 42 points for 1,000 in his career.
• Cameron Ayers needs 197 points for 1,000 in his career.
Who’s Got Next?
• Bucknell closes down its 2012-13 non-conference schedule on Saturday at 12th-ranked Missouri. Note that the start time for that game has been moved to 4 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. Central in Missouri), and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest.
• It will be the first-ever meeting between Bucknell and Missouri.
• The Tigers are 10-2 on the season, with the only two losses coming against Louisville and UCLA.
The Last Meeting
December 31, 2011
Bison Pound the Glass in 63-60 New Year's Eve Win over Cornell
Mike Muscala scored all 18 of his points in the second half and led a terrific effort on the boards with 13 rebounds, helping Bucknell rally past Cornell 63-60 on Saturday afternoon at Sojka Pavilion. Bryan Cohen added 13 points in addition to his usual strong defense, and Bryson Johnson hit a key 3-pointer late en route to a 12-point night as the Bison improved to 9-6 on the season.