VMI Basketball Concludes Season, Falls in SoCon ETSU Matchup

VMI basketball played their last game of the season against the seventh-seeded East Tennessee State University Bucs Southern Conference Championship at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina, March 8, 2024.—Photo courtesy Paul Bois.

The VMI basketball team faced the seventh-seeded East Tennessee State University Bucs in the opening round, falling by a score of 98-66 at the Southern Conference Championship at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina, March 8, 2024. This game closes the book on the 2023–24 Keydet campaign.

Key Stats

  • Taeshaud Jackson ’26 nearly posts a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
  • Stephen Olowoniyi ’27 totals 11 and 5; D.J. Nussbaum ’24 and Tyran Cook ’27 each score 10
  • VMI shoots 48% from the floor, ETSU is 51.6% from the floor.
  • Bucs have six scorers in the double figures.
  • Points in the paint nearly even with VMI scoring 32 and ETSU 38.

Wilson’s Words

“It was a tough game; credit to ETSU,” said Andrew Wilson, head coach. “The key to beating ETSU is to keep them off the glass. We did good the first 10 minutes, but the last 10 minutes of the first half, they got five offensive rebounds and that’s where they separated from us.”

Final Farewell

The day also marked the last game at VMI for Devin Butler ’24, Nussbaum, and Jake Johnston ’24, who will graduate from the Institute in May.

“I’m really proud of our guys sitting next to me,” Wilson said of Butler and Nussbaum. “They’ve represented our program in a first-class way. These guys are going to do great things in life, and that’s what VMI’s all about.”

“One thing VMI has taught me is how to persevere through anything,” Butler said. “Everything at VMI is built on resilience and perseverance, and those are some of the skills that VMI and Coach Wilson have instilled in us.”

“Dev nailed it. VMI has a motto of never say die, never quit,” said Nussbaum. “I came into VMI as an 18-year-old boy, and I’m leaving as a young man. The VMI program has made me the person I am today. I’m ready to go lead. Whether it’s in graduate school or the workforce, VMI has prepared me better than any place in the nation could have. Thankful for my coaches and VMI itself.”

How it Happened

Wright was unconscious to start, scoring the first eight points for the Keydets as VMI took an 8-7 lead in the early stages. Minutes later, VMI would double up ETSU after a dunk from Olowoniyi made the score 14-7. The Keydets would hold a lead until the eight-minute mark when ETSU took a 24-22 advantage, slowly extending the lead to 11 (42-31).

ETSU came out of the gates firing, pushing the lead to 19 before a VMI rally cut the deficit to 15 with 13 minutes to play. The Bucs would respond, slowly widening the margin before ultimately taking the contest.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published at