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January 18, 2012

Whiteout conditions expected in Eblen Center as Jacksonville State visits

Golden Eagles have won five consecutive home games

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The forecast calls for a Blizzard Thursday night as Tennessee Tech returns home to the Eblen Center, where it has won five consecutive games. The Golden Eagles host Jacksonville State at 7 p.m.

One of the most unique traditions in college basketball, the Blizzard began in 1985 when students brought "Tech Squares" – squares of toilet paper stocked in the dormitory bathrooms – and threw them into the air after the first successful shot made by the Golden Eagles.

The annual tradition is being renewed, and fans can be a part of the Blizzard on Thursday.

On the basketball floor, the Golden Eagles are coming off a hotly-contested game at then-No. 14 Murray State on Saturday, a game in which Tech rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit to tie the game. Despite the loss, Tech has won eight of its last 11 games.

Against Murray State, Tech put four players in double-figures, led by Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard with 19 points apiece. Dillard also notched his fourth double-double of the season, hauling in 12 rebounds.

The Golden Eagles are drawing widespread attention for the numbers being posted by backcourt trio Murphy, Dillard and Zac Swansey. Murphy and Dillard are the nation's No. 2 scoring duo, averaging 19.7 and 18.3 points per game, respectively, while Murphy also leads the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring. Dillard is the league's leading rebounder (8.7 per game) and Swansey leads the conference in assists (5.7 per game) and steals (2.6 per game). Swansey ranks 9th nationally in steals.

Jacksonville State is coming off back-to-back road losses at Murray State and Austin Peay and has dropped six of its last seven.

At 11-7 overall and 3-2 in conference play, Tech sits in third place in the OVC, a game-and-a-half behind second place Southeast Missouri State, which visits Saturday night. JSU is 11th in the OVC with a league mark of 1-6 and an overall record of 6-14.

Thursday's game marks the 21st meeting between Tech and Jacksonville State with the Golden Eagles leading the all-time series, 12-8. Tech swept the series last season and has won three consecutive games against the Gamecocks.

In the last meeting between the two schools, Swansey hit a three-pointer with 37 seconds remaining to put Tech in the lead, and the Golden Eagles held on with free throws to secure a 77-75 Senior Night win over Jacksonville State at Eblen Center.

Jacksonville State is led by sophomore guard Brian Williams and junior forward Tarvin Gaines, who average 12.2 and 10.1 points respectively. Junior Ronnie Boggs is the reigning OVC Newcomer of the Week after averaging 12.5 points and going 11-for-13 from the field in the Gamecocks' two games last week.

Depsite struggling to score this season, Jacksonville State has played well defensively and leads the OVC in field goal percentage defense (41.8 percent) and ranks third in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.9 percent).

Thursday's game will be broadcast live on WCTE-TV around the Upper Cumberland region as well as over the airwaves on the Golden Eagles Sports Network, WHUB AM 1400 and on the Internet at www.1400TheHub.com. A live web stream is available at OVCSports.tv. Fans can also listen via Teamline by calling (216) 502-3200 and entering team code 0654. Cost is $5 per call.

For ticket information, call (931) 372-3940 or visit www.TTUSports.com.