Big frontcourt play, historic defense leads Tech to 83-29 victory over Piedmont International

Big frontcourt play, historic defense leads Tech to 83-29 victory over Piedmont International

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

COOEKVILLE, Tenn. – Are you fan of hard-nosed defense that refuses to crack? Are you fan of a high-motor offense that can seemingly score at will? Or are you a fan of a blue-collared, old-fashioned, bang-in-it-the-paint sort of game?

No matter the preference, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team's 2014-15 regular season opener had all that and more as the Golden Eagles cruised to an easy 83-29 victory over Piedmont International Friday night in the Eblen Center.

The Tech squad just flat-out refused to allow the Bruins any kind of momentum or groove Friday evening, squandering any hope of establishing any kind of offensive presence. The Golden Eagles held Piedmont to a staggering 15.1 field goal percentage from the floor, allowing just eight buckets all night.

Tech pulled down 61 rebounds in the affair, including 36 on the defensive end, and managed 13 steals and seven blocks as well. Only six Bruin players managed to score on the night, and only two cracked the five-point threshold.

The defensive effort was so dominating, it became the first time since the 1947-48 season-opener that a Golden Eagle team held its opponent below 30 points.

You just have to admire the pageantry. Piedmont's 29 points now sits as the lowest total ever allowed in the Hooper Eblen Center and the lowest mark for the team since the man for which the building is now named stood at the helm of the program. Eblen's 1947-48 squad managed to hold Cumberland University (College at the time) to just 23 points.

Leading the way for the Golden Eagles were two guys who played in their first-ever Division I ball games, including redshirt freshman Mason Ramsey and junior JUCO transfer Charles Jackson. Ramsey, a native of nearby Livingston, kicked off his collegiate career with a bang, recording a double-double thanks to 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting as well as 14 rebounds. He pulled down a staggering nine offensive boards in just 20 minutes of action.

Jackson, a 6-foot-10 transfer from the College of the Southern Idaho, just abused the Bruin frontcourt all game. He too tallied a double-double, making Ramsey and himself the first Tech teammates to each have double-doubles in the same game since Zac Swansey and Jud Dillard each accomplished the feat against Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 16, 2012. Jackson managed 10 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes on the floord, adding three blocks and two steals for good measure. He shot 50 percent from the field, contributing to a solid night overall for the Tech offense.

The Golden Eagles knocked down 45.8 percent of their shots against Piedmont, dominating the paint for 54 of their 83 points on the night. Tech also scored 36 points off Bruin turnovers, including 20 on fast breaks. The Tech bench made a huge contribution with 37 points.

A blue-collar effort from the team as a whole led to the 10th-largest margin of victory in program history and a blue-collar player was at the forefront of it all with Ramsey and Jackson. Senior big man Dwan Caldwell managed 14 points in just 17 minutes of action, shooting 66.7 percent from the field with a career-high two treys. He also tallied five rebounds to give the Golden Eagles their highest rebounding total in over 10 years.

Junior swingman Josiah Moore turned in 11 points, leading the way from the charity stripe with a five-for-five effort on free attempts. Another big man, junior Anthony Morse, posted solid numbers with seven points, nine rebounds and a team-high three steals.

With the win, the Golden Eagle squad moves to 40-1 in home openers since 1974 and 1-0 for the season.

Tech will get a short rest before hitting up the west coast for a match-up with Pac-12 member USC. Featured on the Pac-12 network, the contest is set for a 10 p.m. CT tip-off on Monday, Nov. 17 as California natives Dwan Caldwell and Charles Jackson will look to lead the Golden Eagles to a victory in the first contest ever between the two programs.