By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
OREM, Utah – For the last time of the 2013-14 regular season, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will take on a non-Ohio Valley Conference opponent as the Golden Eagles travel west for a contest at Utah Valley.
The 8:05 p.m. CT game will pit the Golden Eagles and Wolverines in a Dec. 28 match-up, less than one month after their first-ever meeting back in Cookeville. Tech won the first meeting, edging Utah Valley 74-71 on Nov. 30.
Tech is coming off a blow-out of Hillsdale (Okla.) College, ouscoring the Saints 112-56 on Dec. 19. The Wolverines return to play after a a tough, four-point loss at home to North Dakota State back on Dec. 23.
Tennessee Tech (7-7) at Utah Valley (5-7)
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013
8:05 p.m. CT
UCCU Center (8,500) - Orem, Utah
Radio: 1400 AM WHUB (Kevin Bostian)
Webcast: UVU TV
SETTING THE STAGE
The final non-conference game of the year for Tech finds the Golden Eagles in a rematch of this year's win over Utah Valley. Just the second meeting in program history, TTU travels to Orem, Utah for the second half of this home-and-home series.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Senior point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas scored 20 points, including a crucial 3-pointer with three minutes remaining to tie the game, and Tennessee Tech used that to propel the Golden Eagles to a 74-71 victory over visiting Utah Valley University Saturday night in Eblen Center.
Samarrippas was 7-for-9 from the field including 4-for-5 from outside the arc, and added five assists to lead all players in both categories. He also made his only two free throws with 46 seconds to play that proved the game-winners.
Junior Dwan Caldwell scored a career-high with 18 points, shooting 6-for-9 and grabbing a game-best seven rebounds. Tech (5-4) also got a career-high effort from junior Jordan Johnson with 11 points, going 4-for-5 from the field including all three of his 3-point tries.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Saturday night marks round two between the Golden Eagles and Wolverines, as Tech took down Utah Valley earlier this season in a closely-fought battle in Cookeville.
Tech prevailed over the Woverines, 74-71, on Nov. 30 thanks to a strong shooting night from several members of the team.
Utah Valley actually out-rebounded the Golden Eagles, only the second team to accomplish the feat this season. They edged Tech on the glass by one, but the TTU owns a +6.9 advantage over its opponents as a whole this season.
That has been the strength of the squad as well as the team averages 38.9 boards per game while allowing just 32.0. The team is also coming off a confidence boosting win, grabbing its largest margin of victory (56 points) on Dec. 19 against Hillsdale College after suffering its largest margin of defeat (27 points) at Green Bay on Dec. 17.
Junior guard Ty Allen still leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 points per game while also shooting nearly 77 percent from the charity stripe. He's closely followed by senior forward Dennis Ogbe, who scores 10.4 points per game and leads the squad with 6.6 rebounds per game. A Senior Class Award candidate, Ogbe is hitting ona .602 clip from the field.
Other newcomers making an impact are juniors Dwan Caldwell (9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game) and Ladon Carter (8.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game). Carter also leads the team in blocks with 17 and is second in steals with 22. His .641 shooting percentage from the floor ranks third in the OVC.
The floor general, senior guard Jeremiah Samarrippas, averages 7.6 points per game while dishing out a team-high 52 assists and leading the team with 23 steals.
Four members of the Wolverines average double-digit points, including Hayes Garrity who scores 11.9 points per game off the bench. Also averaging double figures are Holton Hunsaker (11.7 ppg and 52 assists), Zach Nelson (11.6 ppg and 6.0 rpg), and Ben Aird (10.1 ppg and 6.4 rpg).