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Red-hot Boyd, Bucs pay visit to Chattanooga

Joe Avento • Feb 5, 2020 at 3:27 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Tray Boyd III has played like a starter during his two seasons with the East Tennessee State men’s basketball team.

Whether he’ll be one remains to be seen.

Boyd is coming off the best game of his career, one that led the Bucs to their biggest Southern Conference victory of the season. In his first start of the year, the senior scored 30 points in Saturday’s rout of UNC Greensboro.

Will Boyd be in the starting lineup again when the Bucs play at Chattanooga on Wednesday night?

“Probably,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said, perhaps not wanting to offer too much information to the opponent. “I think he earned it.”

Boyd started eight games last season. Despite coming off the bench for the other 26, he was the Bucs’ leading scorer. Being the team’s super-sub turned into a nice role for him.

“I think sometimes the game loosens up a little bit,” Forbes said. “You know, four or five minutes into it, I think for scorers sometimes that’s a good thing. Guys get a little tired and now he can come in and get his shots off.

“He obviously played really well. He’s never said a word to me about being worried about starting.”

Boyd has consistently said he doesn’t mind coming off the bench. He’s just a notch behind Bo Hodges in the team scoring race. Hodges averages 13.4 points a game, Boyd 13.3.

The difference between the players is razor thin. Hodges has scored 309 points this season and Boyd 307.

WEDNESDAY’S GAME

Tipoff at McKenzie Arena is set for 7 p.m. The Bucs (19-4, 8-2) are tied with Furman for first place in the league race.

ETSU beat the Mocs 75-64 less than two weeks ago behind Hodges’ career-high 27 points. A.J. Caldwell and Ramon Vila each had 17 for the Mocs.

Matt Ryan continues to lead Chattanooga (14-9, 5-5) in scoring at 14.3 ppg. David Jean-Baptiste averages 13.7.

“I think it’ll be a hard game,” Forbes said. “I like their team. I thought they came in and competed hard against us last time. We’re going to have to play well. We have a tough road swing.”

After Chattanooga, the Bucs hit the road for a game at Mercer on Saturday. It’s a chance to avenge last week’s 71-55 loss to the Bears.

THE SERIES

ETSU has won nine games in a row against Chattanooga. This will be the first time the teams have met on a weeknight since 2005.

LSU LOOKING GOOD

When the Bucs beat LSU in December for one of their biggest wins in recent years, few thought the Tigers would go on a tear.

But they haven’t lost since, rolling off 10 consecutive wins and moving into The Associated Press rankings at No. 18. That result was LSU’s only home loss of the season thus far.

The Tigers lead the Southeastern Conference by two games over Kentucky and Auburn.

The loss to Mercer dropped ETSU out of the AP poll. The Bucs had been receiving votes and moved up to 31st.

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