By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team leaves Cookeville for a three-game road trip, kicking things off with a Tuesday contest at Savannah State. The first time the two programs will meet, tip is scheduled for a 6 p.m. CT start in Savannah, Ga.
Tennessee Tech (0-2) at Savannah State (1-2)
Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018
6:00 p.m. CT
Tiger Arena (5,000) – Savannah, Ga.
This marks the first-ever meeting between Tennessee Tech and Savannah State.
TECH VERSUS THE MEAC
The Golden Eagles are 4-0 all-time against the current membership of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Following this match-up, Tech will have taken on four of the MEAC's 11 teams. The Golden Eagles have never faced Coppin State, Delaware State, Howard, Morgan State, Norfolk State, North Carolina A&T, and North Carolina Central.
Tech will actually face Savannah State twice this season, returning to the Eblen Center to host the Tigers on Thursday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m.
TECH VERSUS GEORGIA
The Golden Eagles are 15-16 all-time against current Division I competition from the state of Georgia, including a 4-12 mark on the road.
With the match-up against Savannah State, Tech will have taken on each of seven current Division I programs from the state of Georgia.
Tech's best record against a Georgia institution is a 6-4 mark against Georgia Southern. The Golden Eagles also own a 5-5 record when facing Mercer.
TTU will return to the Peach State to take on Kennesaw State on Saturday, Dec. 15.
For the second straight game to open the year, a Golden Eagle veteran put up a career-high scoring effort. Senior Courtney Alexander II finished with a personal-best 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field against Presbyterian.
Alexander also hauled in a team-high 11 rebounds, posting his first double-double of the year. He also chipped in four assists.
Coming off the bench, rookie point guard Jr. Clay had a spectacular game against the Blue Hose, playing 29 minutes. He dropped 14 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor and hitting 5-of-6 free throws. He also tallied four assists.
Coming off a tough shooting performance at Memphis, Corey Tillery sank 4-of-7 attempts from downtown against Presbyterian. He finished with 12 points.
The 2018-19 schedule proves as one of the most daunting for the Golden Eagles in program history. Current preseason rankings would have it be the first season in team history where the Golden Eagles face three top-10 teams. (No. 6 Tennessee, No. 8 North Carolina and No. 10 Michigan State).
Tech has faced three different top-15 teams just once in school history, back in 1993-94. Then head coach Frank Harrell's squad took on No. 1 Kentucky, No. 12 Indiana and No. 14 UConn throughout the season.
Tech was predicted to finish fifth overall in the 2019 OVC race in voting by the league's head coaches and SIDs.
The 2018-19 Tech roster features 17 players (13 scholarship student-athletes) representing five states.
Ten Golden Eagle players hail from the state Tennessee, while Georgia boasts a total of three Tech players. Florida represents home to two Golden Eagles while both Alabama and Illinois are represented by one Tech player each.
Tech has two graduate students, two seniors, four juniors, one sophomore, one redshirt freshman and seven true freshmen.
Ten Golden Eagles stand 6-foot-5 or taller while the other seven measure in at 6-foot-4 or shorter.
A whopping 11 members are new to the Tech squad for 2018-19, including Spencer Chandler, Jr. Clay, Garrett Golday, Malik Martin, Chris McNeal, Caden Mills, Chase Ridenour, Jared Sherfield, Tyler Thompson, Johnnie Vassar and Reece Wilkinson.
WINDS OF CHANGE
Last year, the Golden Eagles returned 71.0 percent of their scoring. This season, things look a little different for the purple and gold. Just 19.4 percent of Tech's points will return in 2018-19.
In 2017-18, seven of TTU's top eight scorers returned to help lead the team to 19 wins. This season, the Golden Eagles have lost their top five scorers from last year, all of which averaged double figures.
Senior Courtney Alexander II represents the top returner at 6.8 points per game.
Tech represents the only OVC team in the league not returning at least one of its top five scorers from a season ago.
Alexander also marks the only returning starter from 2017-18, making 32 starts in 33 games. He led the team in both rebounds and blocks last season.
Tennessee State is the only other team in the OVC returning just one starter from last season. The team also hired a new head coach in the offseason.
Tech's five returning players who saw action in 2017-18 ranks the Golden Eagles as the second-lowest in the league behind Southeast Missouri's four. Belmont also returns just five players from last year.
Overall, the Golden Eagles return just 27.1 percent of their total minutes played from 2017-18, the 12th lowest percentage in the nation. Of Tech's opponents in 2018-19, only Chattanooga returns less (15.2 percent).
Photo by Jim Dillon