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Strong second half lifts Tech over SEMO for fourth consecutive win

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech took control of a close contest with a solid five minutes to open the second half and rode the advantage to an 82-68 victory over Southeast Missouri Saturday night in Eblen Center in Ohio Valley Conference action.

Tech turned a nine-point halftime lead into a 16-point bulge to kick off the second half to the delight of the crowd of 1,350 which turned out despite difficult driving conditions and wintry weather.

It was Tech’s fourth consecutive win and fifth in the last six games as the Golden Eagles improved to 12-10 overall and 6-5 within the league. SEMO fell to 6-15 overall and 3-8 in the OVC.

The Golden Eagles got a balanced effort in the scoring column with five players in double figures. Sophomore Kevin Murphy led all scorers with 20 points and also had five rebounds, and no turnovers. Elijah Muhammad added 17 points and four assists, Zach Bailey scored 13, Frank Davis 12 and Jud Dillard 10. Alfred Jones had seven points and led Tech on the boards with eight rebounds.

SEMO had four players in twin digits, led by Anthony Allison and Jajuan Maxwell with 17 points each. Sam Pearson and LaMont Russell added 10 apiece. Russell finished with a double-double, finishing with 13 rebounds for the Redhawks while Maxwell had seven boards.

Tech came out of the dressing room with a 9-2 run to start the second half, four by Murphy and a three-point play by Bailey to make it 53-37.

The largest difference in the second half came with 9:08 to play when Bailey stole the ball and raced the length of the floor for a layup to make it 66-44. From there, the Redhawks were able to get within 13 a couple of times, the last with 31 seconds remaining on a jumper by Allison.

There were runs in both directions in the first half and each team appeared ready to take command.

For SEMO, after falling behind 3-0, the Redhawk answer was an 11-1 run for an early 11-4 lead. Down by eight, Tech had an 8-1 stretch that brought the Golden Eagles back into the contest and made it 23-22 with 6:43 to play. Following a few minutes of sparring, Tech closed the half by outscoring SEMO 12-4 and went into the break with a 44-35 lead.

The game ended a successful four-game homestand for the Golden Eagles as they notched wins over Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri.

Tech’s schedule winds through the OVC’s “Death Valley” next week with stops at Eastern Kentucky Thursday night and Morehead State Saturday night. Tech’s next home game is Thursday, Feb. 11, when league-leading Murray State visits.

New Soccer Recruit?
– The Golden Eagle soccer team claimed the $250 cash prize (photo) that is awarded at each home game to the most spirited student group. Following the win, to show his appreciation for the soccer team’s support, head coach Mike Sutton walked to the end of the court below the team and took a couple of soccer kicks with a basketball, drawing loud cheers from the Golden Eagle players and student section.