By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – A hot start quickly turned cold for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Thursday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell on the road against Ohio Valley Conference rival Jacksonville State, 82-65.
Tech (16-10, 8-5) opened the contest on fire, taking a 10-0 lead over the Gamecocks (18-8, 9-4) in the first three minutes. The Golden Eagles hit four of their first six shots, including a couple of triples from senior forward Curtis Phillips Jr.
The visitors' next three shots also fell, providing Tech an 18-5 lead just five minutes into the game. And then the cold front moved in.
After a Phillips layup with 12:35 to play in the first half made it a 20-11 advantage for the purple and gold, things got frosty. The Golden Eagles were held off the scoreboard over the next nine minutes of play, with the Gamecocks turning in a 27-2 run that essentially began when senior Mason Ramsey took the bench with his second foul.
The local Livingston, Tenn. product returned late in the half, ending Tech's drought with a layup, but Jacksonville State led at the break, 40-27.
Tech's offensive woes continued into the second half, as the team shot just 33.3 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes. For the game, the Golden Eagles connected on just 35.5 percent from the floor, 29.2 percent from deep and 58.3 percent at the line.
Phillips tied his career high in scoring on the night, posting a game-high 28 points on 50 percent shooting. He added six rebounds in 34 minutes. Ramsey notched 14 points on a very impressive 6-for-8 shooting, but struggled to stay on the floor due to foul trouble, being limited to just 22 minutes of action. Graduate guard Shaq Calhoun added 13 points to the mix.
Jacksonville State's Jason Burnell led the home team with 22 points and 12 rebounds while Marlon Hunter and Jamall Gregory chipped in 17 and 12 points, respectively.
The Golden Eagles will return to the Eblen Center and play host to in-state rival Belmont Saturday evening, hosting the Bruins in a 7:30 p.m. CT match-up.
Photo by Tony Marable