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OVC's top scoring defense looks for 7-1 start at home, hosts SIUE

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

Gameday Central

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – On the heels of its Ohio Valley Conference home opening win over Eastern Illinois, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will get no time to celebrate as the Golden Eagles prepare to host SIUE Saturday evening.

Boasting the top scoring defense in the league, the Tech squad will look to continue its home court success after starting the season 6-1 in the Eblen Center. The Golden Eagles have allowed just a measly 62.0 points per game against OVC competition this season and will look to shut down the Cougar attack in a 7:30 p.m. CT match-up.

SIUE enters the contest after dropping a OVC game at Jacksonville State Thursday night, falling to the Gamecocks, 61-52. Donivine Stewart was the lone double-digit scorer for the Cougars, dropping 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Tennessee Tech (9-9, 2-1) vs. SIUE (4-12, 1-2)
Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014
7:30 p.m. CT
Eblen Center (9,280) - Cookeville, Tenn.

The Broadcasts
TV: none
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: Golden Eagle Sports Network on the OVC Digital Network (Dylan Vazzano)

SETTING THE STAGE
The shortest series for Tech against OVC opponents, playing SIUE has been an up-and-down affair as the Golden Eagles own a slim one-game advantage over the Cougars.

With the first meeting between the two programs coming back in 2010, this will mark just the sixth match-up all-time between Tech and SIUE. The Golden Eagles have claimed both contests in Cookeville, winning by an average of 15.5 points per game.

Last year's meeting marked the closest contest between the OVC foes, with SIUE edging Tech by just four points. Every other game in the series has been decided by at least 13 points.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET
A second straight come-from-behind victory looked to be within reach for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team, but the SIU Edwardsville Cougars held on for a 58-54 Ohio Valley Conference victory, sending the Golden Eagles home with a 1-1 split on its Illinois road trip.

Following a stellar shooting performance from behind the 3-point line at Eastern Illinois, the Golden Eagles struggled to replicate those numbers, converting just three out of 20 attempts from downtown on the night.

The Cougars struggled from the field all evening, shooting just 39 percent from the floor and a paltry 51.5 percent from the charity stripe. Michael Messer and Jerome Jones marked the only two SIUE players to score in double figures for the game, recording 14 and 13 points, respectively. Half of Messer's 14 came off seven converted free throws, including five in the final 15 seconds of the game.

The biggest difference in the game turned out to be an 11-0 run by SIU Edwardsville in the second half. The run spanned from the 16:11 to the 8:45 mark. It opened up a 10-point Cougar lead that the squad never relinquished.

Tennessee Tech senior guard Jud Dillard put together his second consecutive stellar performance, recording his sixth double-double of the season. He led all players with 29 points and 12 rebounds on seven-of-16 shooting from the field. The Atlanta, Ga. native also tied a career-high on the evening, sinking 13 free throws on 16 attempts. He played nearly the entire game, seeing 38 minutes of the action.

Junior forward Matt Marseille performed admirably for the Golden Eagles, scoring 10 points and pulling down six big boards in 22 minutes of play. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native also recorded the lone Tech block of the evening.

A redshirt freshman guard out of Atlanta, Ga., Lanerryl Johnson stepped up in a huge role for the Golden Eagles in the game, playing a career-high 30 minutes at the point guard position following an injury to junior Jeremiah Samarrippas. Johnson scored six points while dealing with an unrelenting Cougar defense all night.

Tech recorded 38 rebounds on the evening, out-muscling its OVC opponent by six on the glass. Every single Golden Eagle grabbed a rebound against the Cougars, just the second time this season that the team pulled off the feat. The first occurrence was also in Illinois, in Tech's game against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Ty Allen has led the Golden Eagles in scoring all season long and currently averages 10.1 points per game. Not far behind, senior Dennis Ogbe is posting 10.0 points while also leading Tech in rebounding with 6.4 boards per game.

Junior Dwan Caldwell has played a key role as the big man in the paint for the Golden Eagles. He is averaging 9.6 points per game while grabbing 5.4 boards per contest. He also blocks 1.1 shots 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 30 steals. He also tacks on 8.9 points per game.
Ladon Carter provides great depth off the bench for Tech, ranking second in the OVC in field goal percentage with a .663 mark while scoring 7.5 points per game and pulling down 5.0 rebounds.

Redshirt sophomore Josiah Moore put together a fantastic effort at Tennessee State, leading the Golden Eagles with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He added six at Belmont and 10 more against Eastern Illinois and now averages 7.5 points per game. His .366 mark from the 3-point line ranks him second on the Tech squad and first among players with at least 20 attempts.

JUCO transfer Jordan Johnson collected his third consecutive start of the season against Eastern Illinois, providing a spark with 12 points against the Panthers. In three OVC games he is shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range.