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Several standouts as Golden Eagles burn UT Martin for sixth OVC road win

Photo: Jud Dillard and the Golden Eagles were strong in the paint Saturday (photo by Tony Marable)

MARTIN, Tenn. – Sophomore Jud Dillard had the hottest hand Saturday on a night when the Golden Eagles were on fire. His perfect shooting performance and 23 points helped lift the Golden Eagles to a satisfying 85-71 Ohio Valley Conference victory at UT Martin.

Zac Swansey directed the winning attack, getting 10 assists and five steals to turn the game in Tech's direction. Kevin Murphy also nabbed five steals as the Golden Eagles improved to 6-3 on the road in conference play this winter. 

The Golden Eagles head home still in the hunt for one of the top spots in the OVC standings after wrapping up their conference road commitments. With three of their final four games at home in Eblen Center, including both remaining OVC encounters, Tech remains in fourth place with a 10-6 conference mark and improved to 14-11 overall.

Dillard was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field and was one of four Golden Eagles to reach double figures in scoring. Murphy added 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals while Zac Swansey finished with a double-double, contributing 12 points, 10 assists, five steals and four rebounds. Bassey Inameti also went without missing a shot, hitting 4-for-4 on his way to 10 points.

UT Martin also had four players in twin digits, paced by Troy King's 19 points featuring 4-for-8 shooting from outside the arc. Reuben Clayton added 15 points and five assists for the Skyhawks, while Terence Smith finished with 13 points and seven assists. Andres Irarrazabal dropped in 10 for UTM.

The Golden Eagles shot a sizzling, season-best 67.3 percent from the field (35-for-52), despite just hitting one 3-pointer (1-for-6).  The lack of bombs didn't hinder Tech whatsoever, as the Golden Eagles worked the ball inside. Tech outscored UTM, 62-34, in the paint.

Tech also had the range from the free throw line, hitting 82.4 percent (14-for-17) and owned a 30-21 margin on the glass.

The Golden Eagles were up by eight points at halftime, 41-33, and continued their red-hot shooting in the second half to control the contest. With three minutes to play, Tech was shooting 70 percent before cooling just a little down the stretch.

UT Martin took an early seven-point lead at 11-4, but Tech came back with a 15-2 run that included five from Dillard. The lead changed hands a few times before a 9-0 Tech run gave the Golden Eagles control heading to the intermission.

"It took us a little while to get going, but give UT Martin credit," said TTU coach Mike Sutton. "We did a great job at the free throw line, we worked hard on the glass and this was a good road win."

In the second half, Tech added to its lead until it topped out at 21 points, 71-50, with about six minutes left. The Skyhawks used a late 10-0 run to scrape to within eight at 79-71, before Tech scored the final six.

Sutton spread the credit across the roster.

"Zac (Swansey) made some really good passes, Bassey (Inameti) is getting better and better, and I'm just really proud of the kids. A lot of guys just stepped up and played well," he said.

Tech heads back to Cookeville to host a pair of contests next week, including a Monday night meeting with Tennessee State at 7 p.m. For tickets, or more information, please call the Athletics Ticket Office at (931) 372-3940.