COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team has been notoriously known to prepare for their ever-improving Ohio Valley Conference opponents by playing a challenging non-conference schedule early in their season.
This year will prove no different, as the Golden Eagles head to coach Mike Sutton's home state to tip-off Friday against the North Carolina State Wolfpack to get the 2010-11 regular season under way.
"The Wolfpack are a pre-season top three pick in the ACC along with Va. Tech, which says a lot in that the number one and two picks are Duke and UNC," Coach Sutton said. "This means that there is a great chance that State will potentially go deep in the NCAA tournament. Coach Lowe and his staff are coming off a 20-win season with one of the best recruiting classes in the country, so I know that they are talented and well-coached."
Selected sixth in the pre-season OVC polls, the Golden Eagles have added size and athleticism to the squad this year with their new faces, and will look to pair those traits with the experience of their returnees for a successful season.
Returning to the floor for Tech are starters Alfred Jones and Kevin Murphy. Murphy led the team in scoring last year, logging 491 points in 1003 minutes. Shooting .442 from the floor and .306 from downtown, his speed off the dribble and ability vertically makes Murphy's "J" tough to guard.
Jones was the only Golden Eagle to start all 32 games last season. With a deadly, league-leading accuracy of .667, he notched 238 of his 293 total points from short-range and in the paint, leading his team with 164 total rebounds, as well.
Tech is coming off of a dominant performance over Carson-Newman College in an exhibition game last week, draining 95 points in a 95-46 win. The Golden Eagles were led by a new face, red-shirt freshman Chase Dunn who logged 15 points on the night -- 13 in the second half alone on a 3-4 effort from behind the arc.
Under fourth-year head coach Sidney Lowe, the Wolfpack has compiled a 71-62 record, having finished 20-16 overall last year, 5-11 in the ACC. Returnees include senior guard Javier Gonzalez, who averaged 9.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last season, Tracy Smith – a senior forward who put up stats of 16.5 ppg/7.3 rpg in 2009-10 - and Scott Wood, a sophomore who started all 36 games during his freshman campaign, averaging 7.8 ppg and 2.9 rpg last season.
"It will be especially challenging to play such a formidable opponent on their home court to open the season but we are excited about the opportunity," Sutton continued. "I would prefer a game in my home state to be against an easier opponent but I am looking forward to the game and to seeing family, friends and Tennessee Tech alumni in the area."
The game can be heard on the Golden Eagle Sports Network with Roger Ealey calling the action for broadcasts in the mid-state region. The game can also be heard on Free Teamline on the internet or telephone.