Samford heads to ETSU for pivotal SoCon road test Wednesday

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The Samford University basketball team will play its third Southern Conference road game in seven days Wednesday as the Bulldogs travel to face the red-hot ETSU Buccaneers at 6 p.m. (CT) in a pivotal late-season showdown to be held at Freedom Hall. The contest will be broadcast live on ESPN3, as well as locally on the radio at 99.1 FM The Game. Samford's voice of the Bulldogs, Blake Gardner, will be calling the action on site from press row. Samford (15-11, 6-7 SoCon) heads into the game looking to end its longest losing streak of the season. Since earning back-to-back victories against VMI and Western Carolina on Jan. 25 and 28, respectively, the Bulldogs have dropped a trio of SoCon matchups against UNCG, 81-75, Wofford, 131-127 (4OT) and Furman, 90-73. Samford's current losing streak is only its second stretch of consecutive defeats this season. TheBulldogs finished 9-4 in non-conference play and own an 8-6 record on the road. QUICK HITTERS-- Samford boasts four players averaging double figures in scoring this season in Demetrius Denzel-Dyson (15.8), Wyatt Walker (12.7), Christen Cunningham (10.9) and Alex Thompson (10.8). -- In SoCon games this year, Samford is averaging 81.5 points per game, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from 3-point range. -- Samford's Cunningham owns the school's single-season record in assists this year with 166. -- On Jan. 2, Samford freshman Josh Sharkey set a school record with seven steals at Western Carolina. SCORING IS KEYSince the beginning of last year, Samford has registered a 16-4 record when scoring at least 80 points. On Nov. 14, the Bulldogs opened the 2016-17 season with a dominant 83-65 road victory at San Diego and turned in a 46.9-percent shooting performance from the field, including a welcome 10-of-25 (40 percent) outing from 3-point range. On Thursday, Samford played in a classic four-overtime contest at Wofford, but dropped a hard-fought 131-127 decision to the Terriers. SCOUTING THE COMPETITIONETSU (20-6, 10-3 SoCon) enters Wednesday's marquee conference matchup as one of the top teams in the league. The Buccaneers currently hold sole possession of second place in the SoCon standings and boast the conference's third best RPI in the nation at No. 98. ETSU has been victorious in six of its last seven games and is in the midst of a two-game winning streak. Since Jan. 12, the Buccaneers' only losses have come on the road against both Furman, 75-62, and Wofford, 79-76. At home this season, ETSU boasts a near-perfect 11-2 record with its only setbacks coming against Tennessee, 72-68, and UNCG, 83-79. The Buccaneers' leading scorer in 2016-17 is SoCon Player of the Year candidate T.J. Cromer, who is averaging 18.7 points per game this season to rank second in the conference. He trails only VMI's QJ Peterson, the SoCon Preseason Player of the Year, who is averaging 20.3 points per game. THE ALL-TIME SERIES - - SAMFORD vs. ETSUOn Wednesday, the Bulldogs will square off against ETSU for only the ninth time in school history. Samford currently trails in the all-time series, 7-1, and was swept by the Buccaneers in last season's home-and-home series. The Bulldogs lost at home, 81-77, and on the road, 94-90, in OT. Earlier this year, Samford played host to ETSU and suffered a hard-fought 96-86 defeat in 2OT. DROPPING DIMESCunningham, the Bulldogs' junior point guard from Georgetown, Kentucky, is ranked seventh in the nation in assists (166), 12th in assists per game (6.4) and 18th in assist/turnover ratio (3.0). Additionally, Cunningham only needs 15 more assists to become Samford's all-time career leader in the category with 434. BULLDOG BITES-- Samford's Walker is nearly averaging a double-double this season with 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He has already tallied 17 double-doubles in his young career. -- Samford is ranked No. 11 in the nation in free throws made this season with a total of 481. -- The Bulldogs' heart-wrenching 131-127 (4OT) loss at Wofford on Thursday turned out to be the longest game in Samford history. The Bulldogs' 127 points proved to be the second highest total in the 115 years of Samford hoops, trailing only a 131-point outing against Mississippi College on Feb. 22, 1971. -- Last season, Samford's Cunningham became the first player in school history to record back-to-back 125-assist seasons. He finished 2015-16 with a career-high 128 assists and an average of 3.9 pg. -- Already this year, Cunningham has registered a school-record 166 assists at a break-neck pace of 6.4 assists per contest. On Feb. 4 against UNCG, Cunningham handed out four assists to reach 152 and eclipse the previous school record of 151, which was achieved by Raijon Kelly in 2012-13. -- Since the beginning of last season, the Bulldogs have tallied a 16-4 record when scoring 80 points or more. On Thursday, Samford came up short in a 131-127 4OT loss on the road at Wofford. WHAT'S COMING UP NEXT?Following Wednesday's road test at ETSU, Samford will next be in action Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT) as the Bulldogs return home to face the VMI Keydets in a conference matchup to be held at the Pete Hanna Center. The meeting will begin a momentous three-game homestand for Samford. Following Saturday's contest against VMI, the Bulldogs will also play host to Chattanooga (Feb. 22) and The Citadel (Feb. 25) for Senior Night. For quick score updates, breaking news and links to all of your favorite articles featuring the Bulldogs, please follow @SamfordHoopsFOE and @Samford_Sports on Twitter.

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