BETHLEHEM, Pa. - After only one-day rest, the Lehigh men’s basketball team concludes a three game in six day stretch when it hosts Bucknell in a first-place showdown Monday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The teams enter in a first-place tie with identical 8-2 Patriot League marks as the winner will have the inside track at the regular season title and top seed in the Patriot League Tournament.
There are already more than 15 media members confirmed for Monday’s game along with 10 NBA scouts.
Both squads are coming off tough road losses on Saturday as Lehigh dropped a 64-60 final at Colgate while Bucknell lost at Lafayette, 63-62.
Lehigh head coach Brett Reed, who became the fastest Patriot League coach to 100 career wins, needs one more to sit atop the school’s wins list. He enters tied with Tony Packer with 112 career victories. Should Reed reach 113 on Monday, it would come in 144 less games than Packer (326 to 182).
The Mountain Hawks have won three straight against Bucknell, all on the road, including a thrilling 65-62 victory on Jan. 23. Junior B.J. Bailey led the way with a career-high 18 points while junior Mackey McKnight posted 17 as the Mountain Hawks shot 56 percent from three-point range (10-of-18). The last time the teams met in Stabler was Jan. 18, 2012, a 68-61 Bucknell win.
Bucknell enters with a stellar 21-5 record. The Bison have lost at Penn State, at Princeton, at Missouri, vs. Lehigh and at Lafayette. They are among the nation’s leaders in road victories (10), going 10-4 away from home. Bucknell has featured the same starting lineup for all 26 games this season. Four average double-figure points, led by Mike Muscala with 19.4 (and 11.6 rebounds). Cameron Ayers comes in at 12.5 points per game, Bryson Johnson (11.3) and Joe Willman (10.5). Johnson recently broke the Patriot League record for career made three-pointers. Bucknell features a strong defense which has allowed 59 or fewer points in seven of its10 league games. The Bison are just 1-2 in the league when allowing 60 or more. A big strength is on the glass as Bucknell enters at +5.3 (36.1-30.8) led by Muscala’s 11.6 per game along with Willman’s 5.5 and Ayers’ 4.1.
Bucknell leads the all-time series, 97-62 but Lehigh has impressed as of late with three straight wins. This came after the Bison won four in a row. Bucknell marks Lehigh’s second most-played rivalry (only behind Lafayette). The first meeting between the two sides came in 1901-02, a 38-16 Bucknell victory.
Lehigh will return to action in six days when it travels to Lafayette on Sunday to face the Leopards. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m.