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Bucs' Hodges putting it all together

Joe Avento • Jan 28, 2020 at 10:30 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Bo Hodges’ latest performance even impressed his toughest audience: his teammates.

Hodges dismantled Chattanooga with 27 points and a dominating defensive performance Saturday in a 75-64 victory, East Tennessee State’s ninth consecutive win over its biggest rival.

“It’s fun watching him do that,” said sophomore guard Daivien Williamson, who had 15 points of his own. “He does it in practice every day, too. He brings it every day. That’s why the results come in the game like that.”

Off the court, Hodges has a laid-back demeanor and even he admits it seeps into his game from time to time. Every once in a while, like Saturday, he becomes aggressive. When he does, the results usually speak for themselves.

“He was really aggressive and physical and you have to meet that with aggression and physicality,” Chattanooga coach Lamont Paris said. “It surprised me that he was able to do it on a consistent basis. He’s a good player who’s physically advanced. We have to do a better job of finding a way of standing up to that.”

Nothing Hodges does on the basketball court surprises ETSU coach Steve Forbes, who says the junior from Nashville has a “high basketball IQ.”

“He really, really knows the game,” Forbes said. “He can adjust defensively and offensively. He’s learned four positions on offense. It’s hard to learn one. I’m more impressed than anything the way he understands the game of basketball. He lets the game come to him. He plays at a really good pace. You rarely see him get out of control.”

Hodges did almost all of his damage against the Mocs right near the rim, where he has been using his athletic ability to beat just about any defender to the basket. He went 12-for-17 from the field in the best game of his career.

The performance propelled Hodges into the team’s scoring lead. He’s averaging 13.5 points a game on a team that shares the offensive load more than any other in the Southern Conference. He’s also second on the team in rebounding, steals and assists.

“Bo’s such a really good all-around player,” Forbes said. “Not only can he score, he rebounds it and defends their best players.

“The beauty of our team is last week we had Isaiah Tisdale score 26. Then Bo Hodges scores 27,” he noted. “We’ve had eight different leading scores. That’s the secret sauce to our team.”

Hodges also had five steals against Chattanooga while helping hold its leading scorer, Matt Ryan, to nine points.

“It’s a mentality,” Hodges said. “I love playing defense. Wherever the ball is, that’s where I try to be. I don’t like when people score on me. That’s a personal thing, so I try not to let them score and not let them get the ball. That’s where the steals come.”

Having seemingly scored at will in his last game, Hodges was asked if he would come out with that same aggressive mentality in the Bucs’ next outing, at home Wednesday night against Mercer.

“I could, but it’s a team game,” he said. “I ain’t a selfish person. I let it flow.”

The Bucs have been picking up votes in The Associated Press Top 25, which is causing some excitement among ETSU fans. Hodges says he’s not getting caught up in the hype.

“I didn’t even know that, to be honest,” he said. “I don’t look at that kind of stuff. It is cool. We just want to win the league. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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