Bucknell men’s basketball team profile for the 2019-2020 season
Bucknell to play AU in the first round of the playoffs Thursday in Bender Arena
After earning the two-seed on Saturday, AU men’s basketball (16-13; PL 12-6) hope that their hard work this season will begin to pay off Thursday at 7 p.m. in their upcoming opening-round playoff matchup against the #7 Bucknell University Bison (12-19; PL 8-10) inside Bender Arena.
Before their victory over the Bison at home last January, AU had not won back-to-back games against this team since the stretch between February 2008 and February 2011, when AU won three straight matchups. Since then, AU has won just two out of their 21 matchups against Bucknell, and has struggled this season as well.
AU lost in their last game against Bucknell on Feb. 15, 72-68, and managed to just squeak past the Bison on Jan. 15 thanks to a buzzer-beater from sophomore forward Connor Nelson.
This Bison’s team looks different than the iteration fans are used to seeing, as they have taken a step back from their reign as a Patriot League powerhouse. The team is trying to rebuild after they lost four seniors last year and had four new freshmen come onto the team this season. Thursday’s game comes just a year after the Bison fell to Colgate in the conference championship game, 94-80.
In their most recent game against AU, junior forward John Meeks scored 19 points in a Bucknell win. Meeks is averaging 12.1 points per game on 46 percent shooting from the field this season. Bucknell has also seen production in the form of junior guard Jimmy Sotos, who is averaging 10.9 points per game on the season to go along with four assists and three rebounds on 37 percent shooting from deep.
Looking back at the regular season, Bucknell has been one of the less competitive teams in conference play. While we have seen the rise of teams like AU and Lafayette, Bucknell has been one of the more significant names to fall in the standings.
Bucknell has shown strengths in shot-blocking and three-point shooting this season and is second in the Patriot League in steals per game behind only AU.
“They can shoot, they’re a very good offensive team,” head coach Mike Brennan said. “I think their younger players have gotten better and are starting to really contribute and feel comfortable, so it’s going to be a huge challenge.”
The Bison’s main weaknesses involve their ball movement and their ineffectiveness on the defensive boards (ninth in the Patriot League). Bucknell averages only 12.2 assists per game, one of the lowest totals in the conference.
AU will go into the game Thursday night hoping to exploit Bucknell’s weak defense and will need to play with an up-tempo pace while using their efficient three-point shooting to capture a win in front of a home crowd.