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November 25, 2009

Golden Eagles claim 72-65 road victory over Southern Utah

CEDAR CITY, Utah - Three Golden Eagles scored in double-figures and the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team held on late in the game to claim a 72-65 victory against Southern Utah, Tech's third road win of the young season.

Frank Davis led the Golden Eagles with 19 points, and hit 8-of-11 free throws and 3-of-7 three point attempts. He also added three rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Alfred Jones nearly finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and collecting nine rebounds. Elijah Cunningham-Muhammad scored 12 points for Tech and added five assists.

"We played really tough tonight and hopefully we can continue to do that," Tennessee Tech head coach Mike Sutton said. "It takes time to develop that toughness. There will be ups and downs in the season but it's all about getting your team ready for the end of the year to be playing their best basketball heading into the tournament."

Southern Utah was led by Davis Baker who finished with a game-high 25 points. 16 of those came in the second half as SUU pulled to within three points with just over a half minute to play. But the Golden Eagles used a 4-0 run to end the game to secure the seven-point victory.

With a drastic increase in elevation from Cookeville to Cedar City, Tech went deeper into its bench in order to keep fresh bodies. 11 Golden Eagles played five minutes or more, and 10 Tech players  registered at least two points.

"I thought that the minutes that the reserves gave us in the first half were huge," Sutton said. "We had some guys struggle on offense but then some other guys stepped up."

Jud Dillard played a key reserve roll as he chipped in nine points and five rebounds, including four offensive rebounds, in 21 minutes of action off the bench for Tech. Zach Bailey had six points and four steals in 20 minutes.

The Thunderbirds jumped out to an early 4-0 lead to start the game, but after Tech tied the game at four on a tip-in from Jones with 15:22 to play in the first half, the Golden Eagles would never trail again.

The Thunderbirds would tie the game at six, nine and 21 before Tech took a 36-28 advantage into the locker room at halftime. Southern Utah came out strong in the second half, and pulled to within two points at 40-38, but would never cut Tech's lead to less than two.

The win puts the Golden Eagles at 3-3 on the season and 3-2 on the road, as SUU falls to 3-3 with the loss. The Golden Eagles will pay a visit to No. 1 Kansas on Nov. 27 before returning to Eblen Center for four of their next five.

"We're real proud of our kids. Hopefully the opportunity to play on the road will help us down the road later in the season," Sutton said.

Tech will host Evansville on Dec. 1, then open up Ohio Valley Conference play at Jacksonville State on Dec. 5, before returning to Cookeville for contests against Ball State (Dec. 12), Bryan College (Dec. 19) and Union (Dec. 30) in the month of December.

Single game and season tickets are available through the Tennessee Tech ticket office. For ticket information call 372-3940 or visit TTUsports.com.