By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The sweet stroke of the player known as "Serbian Sugar," not to mention an improved effort on the glass and at the charity stripe, lifted the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team (10-5, 2-0) to a 77-69 victory over Ohio Valley Conference foe Eastern Kentucky (6-9, 0-2) Saturday evening in the Eblen Center.
The league's leader in 3-point shooting and the Special Olympics Player of the Game, Aleksa Jugovic (a.k.a. Serbian Sugar) let it rain from downtown, finishing 5-for-8 from beyond the arc on his way to a game-high 28 points. All-in-all, the senior guard tallied 10 field goals on 17 attempts while also dishing out three assists and racking up a team-best two steals.
While Jugovic's scoring effort stole the show on the night, the overall team effort on the glass played a key role in the Golden Eagle victory. Tech outrebounded the Colonels 43-33, with junior forward Courtney Alexander II tying a career-high with 15 boards and graduate guard Kajon Mack hauling in nine.
The Golden Eagles' prowess at the free throw line also played a pivotal role in the victory. After hitting just 50 percent of its freebies in Thursday's victory against Morehead State, Tech knocked down a much-improved 80.8 percent against Eastern Kentucky. Tech finished 21-of-26, thanks to a 7-for-8 showing by senior forward Curtis Phillips Jr.
Phillips notched all of his 14 points in the second half and added six rebounds in the game while dishing out a team-high three assists. Fellow senior forward Mason Ramsey posted a terrific scoring night despite being limited to just 23 minutes due to foul trouble. The Livingston, Tenn. native scored 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting while also corralling five rebounds.
Tech narrowly missed its seventh game of the year with at least 20 assists, dishing out 19 on 24 made fields goals. Seven of the eight Tech players to see action in Saturday's contest recorded at least one assist, while six dished out multiple helpers.
The Colonels were led by junior forward Nick Mayo, who scored a team-high 26 points on 12-for-23 shooting. DeAndre Dishman added 12 points and 11 rebounds while Dedric Boyd chipped in 12 points.
The Golden Eagles will hit the road for the first time in OVC play Thursday, Jan. 4 when they travel to nearby Nashville for an in-state tilt against Belmont at 7:00 p.m. CT. Tech will then visit Tennessee State, also in Nashville, on Saturday in a 4:00 p.m. match-up.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information