By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It's road-trip time for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team as the Golden Eagles will kick-off it's first lengthy trip away from the Eblen Center with a venture to nearby Nashville to take on in-state rival Lipscomb.
The 6 p.m. CT start on Thursday evening marks the first of four consecutive road contests for the Tech squad. In fact, the Golden Eagles will only return home once in their next eight contests, playing a single game in the Eblen Center in December on the 19th.
Tech walks into the contest on the heels of two straight victories, looking to grab its first winning streak of the season and exact a little revenge after falling to the Bisons last season. The Golden Eagles won both of its games last week, downing East Tennessee State 98-83 and Utah Valley 74-71.
Lipscomb returns home in the middle of a brutal stretch of playing 10-of-11 games on the road. The Bisons are coming off a 70-49 loss at Georgetown, the fifth consecutive game they had played on the road.
Tennessee Tech (5-4) vs. Lipscomb (3-4)
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013
6:00 p.m. CT
Allen Arena (5,028) - Nashville, Tenn.
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: ESPN3 (Trevor Garrett & Justin Seamon)
Setting the Stage
Until five years ago, this once common in-state rival had all but dried up. Dating back to 1941, these two teams fought nearly every year, and sometimes twice a year, for 29 years. The series was dormant for 34 years before Tech and Lipscomb scheduled a home-and-home series in 2008. The two have played each season since.
Tech has dominated the series with a 39-6 lead, mostly due to Lipscomb's prior status as an NAIA program for most of the rivalry. The Bisons got back on track in last year's match-up, however, beating the Golden Eagles by 16 points in Nashville.
The Golden Eagles head to Nashville for the second-straight year to face Lipscomb, a contest that got away from Tech last season as the team fell to the Bisons, 80-64. The final score didn't tell the whole story, however, as the game was much closer than the 16-point loss might indicate.
The Bisons used double digit scoring efforts from four different players to put the game away with just over two minutes to play. Down by as many as 14 points with just four and a half minutes to go, the Golden Eagles fought and clawed their way back to within four with 2:42 left in the second half. Lipscomb would end the game on a 12-0 run, fueled by six free throws.
Tech faced a nine point deficit at halftime, but rode an impressive 11-2 run to tie things up with 14:55 to go. Leading the early second half charge was junior guard Jeremiah Samarrippas. The transfer out of SMU, who scored a Golden Eagle career-best 15 points at Loyola on Wednesday, exploded for a team-best and career-high 20 points, including 12 from behind the arc.
Senior guard Jud Dillard played his part for the Golden Eagles, recording his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 boards. Junior forward Matt Marseille added 14 points of his own to round out Tech's high scorers.
The Bisons are led by a pair of junior forwards. But not just any forwards. Martin and Malcolm Smith are twins and currently rank one and two in scoring for Lipscomb this season, averaging 15.1 and 14.3 points, respectively.
Martin is more of a shooter, leading the team with 16 made 3-pointers and ranking second in field goal percentage with a mark of .815. Malcolm is the more traditional forward of the two, ranking first on the squad in rebounding with 7.1 per game.
J.C. Hampton also averages double digits for Lipscomb, pouring in 12.4 points per game while leading the Bisons with 22 assists and six steals.
The Golden Eagles have several players capable of putting up points, proven by the 10 different players who have scored in double figures at least once this season. Five different Tech players have led the team in scoring out of the nine contests as well.
Overall, JUCO transfer Ty Allen leads the scoring effort for the season, averaging 12.0 points per game. Also huge on the offensive end of the floor has been another JUCO transfer, Dwan Caldwell. The junior center is putting up 11.0 points per game while also leading the team with 7.0 rebounds per contest. He is ranked second in the OVC in offensive rebounding.
Senior forward Dennis Ogbe has proven capable as well, averaging 9.2 points per game while pulling down 6.1 rebounds per contest. JUCO transfer Ladon Carter has provided unbelievable athleticism on the floor this season, scoring 9.1 points per game while also leading the team with 13 blocks and a .698 field goal percentage. He has also made 15 steals and has provided all of his efforts in just 18.4 minutes per game.
Point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas has been as steady as a rock for the Golden Eagles. The senior has upped his scoring to 8.1 points per game over the past week and is dishing out over four assists per contest while also leading the team in steals with 16 and in 3-point field goals made with 14.