By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Nine out of 10 times, what happens in Vegas should definitely stay in Vegas. But in this case, the Golden Eagles would love to have the same success it had in Las Vegas two years ago when Tech won the Las Vegas Classic.
It was the first and only regular-season tournament championship for the Golden Eagles in the modern era and this year they will look to repeat the performance with a three-game event in Corpus Christi, Texas this weekend. Tech will compete in the Holiday Inn Downtown Marina Islanders Basketball Tournament against Texas-Pan American, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and IPFW.
Game One for the Golden Eagles pits them against the Broncs of Texas-Pan American, the first match-up between the two schools in over 40 years. The game will begin at 5 p.m. CT on Friday, Nov. 15. Game Two for Tech will feature a 5:30 p.m. contest against host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday. TTU will wrap up the event with a 1 p.m. tilt against IPFW on Sunday.
Tennessee Tech (1-2) at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-1)
Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013
5:30 p.m. CT
American Bank Center (8,100) - Corpus Christi, Texas
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Dylan Vazzano)
Setting the Stage
There was plenty of drama surrounding the most recent contest between the Islanders and Golden Eagles, a contest decided late in the stages of overtime. The Islanders wound up grabbing an 85-84 victory in Corpus Christi, Texas back on Jan. 8, 1973.
The Golden Eagles, who were looking to move to 6-0 on year, trailed by 12 points five different times in the contest, before tying the game, 68-68, with 2:41 to go late in the second half.
With 2:12 remaining in the game, Tech grabbed a 70-68 lead behind a pair of one-and-one free throws from Geoff Shuck. The Islanders answered twice down the stretch, tying the game once more at 72-all with Tech gaining the final possession.
Confusion then played the lead role for the remainder of the game. With two seconds to play, Tech's Al Lewis, who had not missed a free throw on the season, was fouled and sent to the line. The officials failed to clarify how many free throw attempts Lewis would shoot. With both coaches on the floor trying to find out what the call, Lewis stepped away from the line.
The lead official forfeited Lewis' free throw due to a rule that a player fouled must be prepared to shoot his free throw when the official is ready to hand him the ball.
Overtime followed the confusion and the Islanders collected as high as a five-point lead thanks to 9-of-12 shooting from the charity stripe in the extra period. Despite going to the line just once in the overtime, Tech pulled within one, down 85-84, on a bucket by Wayne Pack. The Golden Eagles called timeout with two seconds to play, but confusion would be the theme of the contest as the clock would run off before the Islanders ever put the ball into play.
Rich Stone, Wayne Pack, and Al Lewis, each an all-OVC player, led the way for Tech on the scoreboard, contributing 23, 20, and 18 points, respectively. Stone added 16 rebounds for a double-double.
The host of the Holiday Inn Downtown Marina Islanders Tournament, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is a lock-down defensive squad that allows just 65.3 points per game to opponents. That, coupled with its high-profile scorer (John Jordan), creates problems for most opponents.
Jordan leads the Islanders with 20.0 points per game, shooting 46 percent from the field in nearly 32 minutes of action per contest.
Also a force for A&M-CC is Zane Knowles, a big man averaging nine points and 10.7 rebounds each time out.
The Islanders enter today's contest coming off a last-second win over IPFW as Jordan sank a jumper to give A&M-CC the 72-71 victory.
The Golden Eagles are coming off a heart-breaker from Friday evening. Tech came back from three separate double-digit deficits to tie Texas-Pan American with just four seconds to play. UTPA's Shaquille Boga drained a buzzer-beating 45-foot prayer to send the Broncs to an 81-78 win and leave the TTU squad speechless.
Tech will look to put the game behind them and use the breakout peformance from JUCO transfer Ladon Carter to its advantage and see if the team can get a repeat performance from the junior. Carter finished the contest with a career-high 17 points, career-best six rebounds, and a career-mark of three blocks.
Also being leaned on will be JUCO transfer Ty Allen, who ranks fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring with 17.3 points per game.
The team will also look to get senior Dennis Ogbe more minutes after the Munich, Germany (along with several other Golden Eagles) native was limited Friday night with an undisclosed illness.