By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Leaving a 5-0 mark in the friendly confines of the Eblen Center behind, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will embark on a four-game road swing Saturday evening, kicking off the long stretch away from home with a battle against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The 8 p.m. CT match-up marks the sixth all-time between the two programs, a series that has seen all five previous contests go to the hands of the Crimson Tide. Saturday's game also marks the first time since 1999 that the two teams have faced off.
Alabama represents the first of two Southeastern Conference foes for the Golden Eagles this season with the other meeting set for Dec. 19 against Tennessee.
Both teams enter the contest with five wins in the books. Tech is 5-3 on the year, with an 0-3 mark on the road while Alabama sits at 5-2 with a 4-0 record in Coleman Coliseum. The Golden Eagles head to Tuscaloosa following back-to-back home victories over Lipscomb and Hiwassee College. The Crimson Tide return home after a tough road loss at Xavier.
Tennessee Tech (5-3) at Alabama (5-2)
Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014
8:00 p.m. CT
Coleman Coliseum (15,383) – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
SETTING THE STAGE
Primarily played in the 1990s, the series has been largely one-sided towards Alabama, with the Crimson Tide claiming all five match-ups. The lone meeting outside of the 90s was the inaugural contest, a meeting in Tuscaloosa back in 1977. All five games in the series have been held in Tuscaloosa.
An offensive team by trade, Alabama walks into Saturday's game averaging nearly 80 points per game thanks to senior Levi Randolph. The guard leads not only his team, but also the entire SEC in scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game. He is also tied for the team-lead in rebounds, pulling down 5.3 per contest while shooting 55.3 percent from the field. He ranks third in nation in free throw shooting, hitting on 41-of-42 attempts this season for 97.6 percent.
Junior Ricky Tarrant and senior Rodney Cooper also average double digits in the scoring column, representing 15.3 and 11.6 points per game for the Crimson Tide, respectively. Both have converted multiple treys on the year, sitting one and two on the team in the rankings. Tarrant has hit 14 while shooting 36.8 percent from downtown while Cooper has connected on 11 with a 44.0 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Alabama has scored fewer than 80 points just twice this season, but still managed to tally over 70 in both contests. The team is averaging 32.9 rebounds and 12.6 turnovers per game while shooting 34 percent from 3-point range.
The Golden Eagles enter the contest averaging 74.8 points and 39.4 boards per contest. Tech is holding its opponents to field goal percentage of 41.3 while forcing 17.3 turnovers per game.
Dominating the paint this season for the Tech squad has been junior center Charles Jackson. The big man leads the Golden Eagles in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 14.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He also leads the OVC in rebounding, offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding and ranks second in the nation with seven double-doubles.
Senior forward and center Dwan Caldwell falls just under Jackson in scoring, scoring 13.8 points per game while also pulling down 4.6 rebounds per game. Josiah Moore and Torrance Rowe each put up over nine points per game and each shoot well from the charity stripe. Moore hits on 72 percent of his free throws while Torrance Rowe has hit 82.6 percent of his freebies.
Photo by TTU Photo Services