By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Believe it or not, Saturday marks the regular season finale for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team as the Golden Eagles prepare for a tough Ohio Valley Conference East Division battle at Morehead State.
Both squads will be out for blood as each enters the contest coming off a heartbreaking loss. The Golden Eagles enter after falling at Eastern Kentucky, 74-67, in a game that clinched the Colonels the final position for a bye in the OVC Tournament.
As for Morehead State, the Eagles will look to rebound from a last-second loss at the hands of Tennessee State. The Tigers used a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to cap a 70-68 upset victory and prevent Morehead State from clinching the No. 3 seed in the league tourney.
Slated for a 6:30 p.m. CT start, the contest marks a second-straight doubleheader for the Tech men's and women's basketball teams as the women will kick off the night at 4:15.
Tennessee Tech (15-15, 8-7) at Morehead State (19-11, 10-5)
Saturday, Mar. 1, 2014
6:30 p.m. CT
Johnson Arena (6,500) – Morehead, Ky.
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: OVC Digital Network
SETTING THE STAGE
One of Tech's longest-standing rivals in the OVC, the Golden Eagles hit the road to Morehead State and Johnson Arena. The Eagles have won their previous seven home games against Tech, last falling to the Golden Eagles in Morehead in 2006.
This series has roots all the way back to 1949 when TTU joined the league and has been a pretty good battle each time it surfaces. Morehead State leads 76-63 all-time, thanks in large part to nine-game winning streak over the Golden Eagles from 2008 to 2011.
Fans never know what to expect in this match-up, but one things for sure, the games usually come down to the wire. Nine contests in the series have gone to overtime and three of the past four games have been decided by six points or less.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
The game had everything it was expected to have, including intensity, physical play, relentless rebounding on both ends, and defenses that challenged every move. Both teams came in looking to extend three-game win streaks.
The one thing nobody expected was a 17-0 run.
And 40 minutes later, visiting Morehead State (18-9/9-3 OVC) claimed a 79-53 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Tennessee Tech (13-14/6-6 OVC) Saturday night in Eblen Center.
Morehead State's frontcourt trio of seniors Drew Kelly and Chad Posthumus, and freshman Greg Dotson led the way for the Eagles. Kelly scored a game-high 18 points, hitting 7-for-11 from the field, while Dotson added 14 on a 5-for-9 night. Posthumus fouled out, but not before adding 10 points and nine rebounds.
Point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas topped Tech with 11 points, along with four assists and three steals. Dennis Ogbe also reached double figures with 10 points on a perfect 5-for-5 night from the field.
Morehead shot 55.1 percent from the field, hitting 27-for-49. Tech hit 34.6 percent, going 18-for-52. The teams combined for 11 blocked shots.
Tech had the lead just one time in the game, going up 2-0 to start the contest. Morehead State broke a 4-4 tie and never trailed after that. The visiting Eagles went on a 10-2 run to open a double-digit advantage, 29-17, with 4:52 to play in the first half.
Tech was able to cut it to nine twice before heading to the break trailing 34-24.
With two quick baskets to open the second half, Tech was within six, 34-28, but MSU regained its double digit advantage. A 17-0 run over the next four minutes puffed the difference to 24 points, 59-35, with 7:05 remaining and the Eagles rode a comfortable margin to the finish.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Senior Dennis Ogbe leads the Tech squad in scoring, averaging 10.6 point per contest. He also leads the Golden Eagles in rebounds, pulling down 6.0 per game.
Junior Dwan Caldwell has played a key role as the big man in the paint for the Golden Eagles. He is second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.1 points per game while grabbing 5.3 boards per contest. He also blocks 1.0 shots per game.
Point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas is the lead dog in assists for the Golden Eagles, averaging 4.4 per game while also leading the way with 42 steals. He tacks on 10.3 points per game as well. In OVC play, he is shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc while leading Tech with 18.3 points and 6.7 assists per game.
Redshirt sophomore Josiah Moore is one of six Golden Eagles averaging at least seven points this season, scoring 7.4 per contest. He went off for a career-high 22 points in the upset victory over Belmont and as well as adding a career-best eight rebounds.
Ladon Carter provides great depth off the bench for Tech, ranking second in the OVC in field goal percentage with a .654 mark while scoring 7.3 points per game and pulling down 4.8 rebounds.
JUCO transfer Jordan Johnson has started all but one conference game this season, shooting 36.5 percent from 3-point range and averaging 6.5 points.