By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2013-14 Ohio Valley Conference opener has the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team making the short trip west to Nashville to take on in-state foe Tennessee State Thursday evening. Game time is set for 7 p.m. CT between the Tigers and Golden Eagles.
For already the fourth time this season, Tech will take on an in-state foe, having already faced-off against East Tennessee State, Lipscomb, and the University of Tennessee. The Golden Eagles are 1-2 in those meetings, with both losses coming on the road. There are still five more meetings against in-state competition after the match-up with the Tigers.
The Golden Eagles failed to complete the season series sweep against Utah Valley last Saturday, falling to the Wolverines in Orem, Utah, 75-66. Tech won the first contest against Utah Valley in Cookeville on Nov. 30, 74-71.
Tennessee Tech (7-8) at Tennessee State (1-13)
Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014
7 p.m. CT
Gentry Center (10,500) - Nashville, Tenn.
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: OVC Digital Network
SETTING THE STAGE
While not the longest rivalry for Tech, this one has been filled with classics throughout its history. Neither team has dominated with the series tied, despite 56 games between the two programs.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Junior forward Dennis Ogbe posted a then-career night, recording his first double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He also blocked a career-best five shots. Ogbe put together his most complete game as a Golden Eagle just hours after being named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team.
The Golden Eagles hung close for the first four minutes of the game, trailing by just one at the 16-minute mark. Tech then fell victim to a defensive purge by the Tigers, failing to score over the next 5:30. TTU did not record a field goal for nearly nine minutes, putting up only free throws until senior guard Jud Dillard hit a 3-pointer at the 6:32 mark of the first half.
The Tigers used a balanced attack, with five players in double-figures for the contest. Kellen Thornton, who also put together a double-double, led TSU in rebounds with 10. He scored 17 points to go along with 19 for Patrick Miller, 17 for Robert Covington, 11 for M.J. Rhett, and 10 for Jordan Cyphers.
Dillard led the Tech scoring effort, scoring 20 points and pulling down eight boards. He fouled out of the game with just under three minutes to play.
Jeremiah Samarrippas scored 12 points on the night, while dishing out five assists. Freshman Anthony Morse posted nine points, including a career-best 7-of-10 from the charity stripe. He added five rebounds and three blocks.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Ty Allen has led the Golden Eagles in scoring all season long and currently averages 11.1 points per game. Right behind him, senior Dennis Ogbe is posting 10.6 points while also leading Tech in rebounding with 6.7 boards per game.
Junior Dwan Caldwell is coming off a solid performance, scoring 17 points while also tallying his 17th block of the season. He ranks second on Tech with 5.9 rebounds per game.
Point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas is the lead dog in assists for the Golden Eagles, averaging just under four per game while also leading the way with 27 steals. He also tacks on 8.0 points per game.
Ladon Carter provides great depth off the bench for Tech, ranking third in the OVC in field goal percentage with a .646 mark while scoring 8.2 points per game and pulling down 5.2 rebounds.