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December 14, 2013

Back in Texas: Golden Eagles return to Longhorn State to face Lamar

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With the in-state portion of a four-game road stretch out of the way, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will embark on the roughest part of its non-conference schedule this weekend, playing three games, including two on the road, in six days.

First on the docket for the Golden Eagles is a trip to Beaumont, Texas where the Tech squad will take on Pat Knight's Lamar Cardinals. The contest, which is set for a 2 p.m. CT start on Sunday, Dec. 15, will kick off a brutal week for the Tech bunch.

The Golden Eagles then trek north to Green Bay, Wis. for a Tuesday match-up with the Green Bay Phoenix. And finally, just two days later, Tech will return home, for it's lone contest in the Eblen Center in December, to host Hillsdale (Okla.) College on Thursday, Dec. 19.

Tennessee Tech (5-6) at Lamar (1-7)
Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013
2:00 p.m. CT
Montagne Center (10,080) - Beaumont, Texas

The Broadcasts
TV: none
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: Big Red Sports Network

Setting the Stage
This marks one of the shortest-lived series in Tech basketball. The two squads have squared off just once, ever, dating back a little over two years ago when the Cardinals made a trek north to Cookeville.

The Last Time They Met
The visiting Cardinals (4-2) used a swarming defense and timely shooting to deal Tech (2-3) an 85-65 non-conference loss.

After fighting back throughout the first half to pull within five at halftime, the Golden Eagles couldn't slow Lamar in the second half as the Cardinals shot 55.2 percent in the final 20 minutes. After owning a slim 20-19 rebound advantage at the half, Lamar topped Tech 21-7 on the boards in the second half for a 41-26 difference in the game.

Zach Bailey, who scored nine points in the final minute-and-a-half, led the Golden Eagles with 17 points. Kevin Murphy added 16 while Jud Dillard netted nine points and led Tech with six rebounds. Terrell Barnes topped Tech with a career-high four assists and tied his career-high with blocked three shots.

What to Watch For
Tech will look to rebound after hitting its first losing skid of the season, dropping back-to-back road contests at Lipscomb and Tennessee.

Lamar is looking to halt a streak of its own, having lost each of its previous four games to Utah, Grand Canyon, Texas-Pan American, and Arkansas State.

Tech has been led all season by JUCO transfer Ty Allen, who tops the Golden Eagles in scoring with a mark of 11.9 points per game.  

A couple of other JUCO transfers have been huge contributors for the Golden Eagles, as well. Big man Dwan Caldwell is scoring 10.5 points per game while leading the team with 7.3 rebounds.

Forward Ladon Carter has put up solid defensive numbers (1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game) while also adding some offense with 8.5 points per game.

Two seniors have provided veteran leadership all year. Forward Dennis Ogbe is averaging 9.3 points and 6.5 rebounds while point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas is adding 8.2 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.

The Cardinals have a trifecta of go-to scorers on the roster, all three of whom average double-digits in the scoring column.

Leading the way is Nimrod Hilliard, averaging 14.9 points per game on 44 percent shooting. He also leads Lamar in minutes per game (34.8), assists (5.4), and steals (2.0).

Amos Wilson ranks second on the squad with 12.5 points per game while Donovan Ross pours in 11.3 to rank third. Ross also leads the team with 5.9 rebounds per contest as well as a 90 percent shooting mark from the charity stripe.