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Game Preview: East Tennessee State visits Charleston Southern

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Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports

The East Tennessee State Buccaneers will be in a familar place tonight, and one that has seen some of the program's most memorable moments, as the Bucs claimed the 2003 and ‘04 Southern Conference titles at the North Charleston Coliseum.

This evening, the Bucs will meet the Charleston Bucs just up the road in Summerville, S.C., in a meeting between the SoCon and Big South.

Tuesday night's meeting between the two will mark just the sixth meeting on the hardwood between the two, with East Tennessee holding the 4-1 all-time series edge, however, in the last meeting between the two, the Charleston Southern Buccaneers came away with the dominant, 72-51, win back on Dec. 12, 2012. The game between ETSU and Charleston Southern is part of the Preseason NIT 2015 Tip-Off Tournament.

East Tennessee State is coming off a big win on Sunday, knocking off ACC member Georgia Tech, 69-68, in Atlanta. The Bucs are 3-1 on the season, with their only setback coming on the road at Villanova (L, 86-51).

Charleston Southern comes into the matchup having posted a 1-3, as Barclay Radebaugh's club has struggled out of the gate. The Lowcountry Bucs registered their lone win of the campaign over Johnson & Wales (W, 97-65), while playing a brutal early schedule, which included games against No. 12 Wichita State (L, 88-63), Stanford (L, 93-59) and Arkansas (93-75).

In each of Charleston Southern's three losses this season, the Bucs have surrendered at least 88 points in each of each of those setbacks. East Tennessee State enters Tuesday night's battle averaging 82.5 PPG this season, having been slowed a bit in their last two games against the Yellow Jackets and Wildcats after scoring at least 100 points in their first two games against Averett and Green Bay.

A Look at Charleston Southern:

Charleston Southern is under the direction of Barclay Radebaugh--the seventh-winningest coach in the history of the Big South Conference--and has turned the Buccaneer program into a perennial power in the Big South race--and the Bucs are coming off a 2014-15 season having claimed a 19-win season, which included a 13-2 record inside the friendly confines of the Buc Dome last season.

The 13-5 mark allowed Charleston Southern to claim the regular-season Big South title, and was enough to garner the Bucs a second NIT bid in three years. The Bucs also won the Big South regular-season crown in the 2012-13 season. Since 2009, Charleston Southern has an amazing 67-18 mark against Big South competition, but an NCAA Tournament berth has continued to elude CSU.

The problem is the Bucs returned just one starter off that team, and though Charleston Southern has some young talent, the 2015-16 season was going to be a bit of a rebuilding season for Radebaugh's club. One thing is for sure, the Bucs have not dodged anyone in their pre-conference slate. The Bucs were projected to finish eighth in the preseason Big South poll.

The Bucs have made the most of the three-point line over the past three seasons, finishing the season ranked in the Top 11 in three-pointers attempted and three-pointers made at the conclusion of the season. Charleston Southern might have some competition in that national ranking in their own city this season, with Duggar Baucom being the head coach at The Citadel.

Charleston Southern has had to get its scoring from other places this season, with 52 of its points from last season having graduated, including 33 from two players, in Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. This season, youth has been served for the Bucs, as the Bucs have been led by freshman Armel Potter (12.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG), as well as NC State transfer Patrick Wallace (10.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG), who has looked solid so far as the new pieces in the backcourt early on in the 2015-16 season.

The duo has combined for 19 of the team's 43 three-pointers so far this season, however, Potter and Wallace have been coming off the bench through the first four games this season. Wallace has a team-high 12 triples on the young season, while Potter has knocked down seven from long range this season Raemond Robinson (6.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG) has also given Charleston Southern solid minutes off the bench.

So far this season, veterans Demetrius Pollard (8.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG) and Danny Upchurch (4.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG), with the strength of this team in the backcourt. The frontcourt has two sophomores and a senior in the paint, with Javis Howard (6.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG) and Wesley Johnson (5.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG) being the two sophomores, while Aaron Wheeler (7.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG) being the senior. The Bucs posted 34.4% from three-point range (43-of-125) this season.

A Look at East Tennessee State:

East Tennessee State is under the direction of Steve Forbes, who is in his first year after coming in from Wichita State to replace Murry Bartow. Forbes has infused three supremely talented newcomers, with two being transfers, to help make the Bucs into an elite Southern Conference title contender right away in just their second season back as a Southern Conference member.

The 16-14 mark the Bucs had last season wasn't good enough, and the Bucs have two impressive wins thus far, downing both Green Bay (W,103-90) and this past Sunday's one-point win over ACC member Georgia Tech.

The win over Georgia Tech marked the first by ETSU over an ACC team since 1991, when the Bucs downed an NC State team led by Chris Corchiani and Rodney Monroe during a season, which saw the Bucs rise as high as No. 10 in the Associated Press poll.

The transformation for the Bucs from a good team to an elite team in the SoCon has everything to do with Ge'Lawn Guyn (19.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG), Deuce Bello (7.5 PPG, 3.3. RPG) and T.J. Cromer (15.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG) coming on board. Guyn and Bello transferred in from Cincinnati and Missouri, while Cromer is a freshman. Guyn is the Karl Cochran for the Bucs, leading the team in nearly every category. He's the point guard for the Bucs, making the blocks and rebounding numbers especially impressive.

He not only leads the Bucs in scoring and rebounding, but also leads the club in assists (3.0) and blocks (1.5). The Bucs are one of the most athletic mid-majors in the country, as evidenced by their league-leading 22 blocks so far through the first four games. Guyn's three-pointer with one second left to allow the Bucs get the win. He has led the Bucs in scoring in three out of four games so far this season, including a season-high 26 points against Green Bay.

The talented trio joined an already veteran cast, which included preseason All-SoCon pick A.J. Merriweather (10. PPG, 4.5 RPG) and as well as three-point marksmen Lester Wilson (10.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG) and jet-quick guard Petey McClain (2.3 APG).

Isaac Banks (6.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG) has been solid this season in the paint for the Bucs as well. Scoring in the front court could be a problem for Forbes as the season progresses, and more production will be needed out of Peter Jurkin (4.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG) and Nigel Holley (2.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG). On ETSU's most successful teams, they always had that big man able to score in the low post, like a Jerald Fields or a Greg Dennis back in the early 1990s.

Did You Know: Charleston Southern head coach Barclay Radebaugh was an assistant under Les Robinson and also holds a bachelor's degree from East Tennessee State. Radebaugh also coached under Butch Estes at Furman in the early-mid 1990s under Butch Estes

WHO WINS:

EAST TENNESSEE STATE 76, CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 68