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In-state rivalry resumes between TTU, TSU Saturday

Tech needs a win to stay in hunt for top-two league finish

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, Saturday's game at Tennessee State represents the opportunity to erase Thursday's loss and put themselves back in the thick of the hunt for the OVC Tournament's second seed.

The Golden Eagles stumbled in a home loss to Eastern Illinois on Thursday but remain just one game out of second place in the league. Tech currently sits in fourth, a half-game behind third-place Southeast Missouri and a game behind Saturday opponent Tennessee State.

"Saturday is a must-win game for us if we want to finish in the top two in the league," TTU head coach Steve Payne said. "I believe our guys are ready to come out and put Thursday behind them."

Tech leads the all-time series over the Tigers 28-25 and over the last 10 games, no squad has won more than two consecutive against the other. Tech handed TSU a 92-86 loss on Jan. 5 in Cookeville and the teams split last year's season series with TTU winning in Cookeville and the Tigers claiming victory in Nashville.

TSU is the hottest team in the conference, bringing a six-game winning streak into Saturday's contest, including a high-profile win Thursday night at Murray State. The Tigers were the first team this season to beat the previously-undefeated Racers.

Despite Thursday's loss, Tech has won three of its last four games and five of its last seven.

Golden Eagle individuals continue to be the best in the conference in many key categories including scoring (Kevin Murphy, 21.5 p/g), rebounding (Jud Dillard, 8.6 r/g), assists (Zac Swansey, 5.9 p/g) and steals (Zac Swansey, 2.3 p/g).

Murphy and Dillard are the No. 2 scoring duo in NCAA Division, averaging a combined 39.6 points per contest, and Murphy ranks ninth among all scorers nationwide.

Tennessee State is led by junior forward Robert Covington, who ranks fourth in the OVC in scoring, averaging 17.7 points per game and second in rebounding with 8.0 boards per contest. Sophomore guard Patrick Miller also scores in double-figures for the Tigers at 11.5 points per game. 

TSU started the OVC season at 3-4 but has since won six straight games, four of which have come on the road. The Tigers have non-conference victories over South Carolina and Morgan State.

Saturday's game will be broadcast on the Golden Eagle Sports Network, WHUB AM 1400 and on the Internet at www.1400TheHub.com. Fans can also watch a live webstream on OVCSports.tv or listen via Teamline by calling (216) 502-3200 and entering team code 0654. Cost is $5 per call.