By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team concludes its three-game road trip with the second of back-to-back match-ups against nationally ranked opponents, traveling north to take on No. 11 Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m. CT.
Tennessee Tech (0-4) at #11 Michigan State (2-1)
Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018
5:00 p.m. CT
Breslin Center (14,759) – East Lansing, Mich.
TV: Big Ten Network (Brandon Gaudin & Stephen Bardo)
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Dylan Vazzano)
Webcast: Big Ten Network 2 Go (Brandon Gaudin & Stephen Bardo)
This will mark the fourth meeting between the two programs all-time, with Michigan State owning a 3-0 advantage. It also represents Tech's second tilt against the Spartans with Coach Payne as head coach of the Golden Eagles.
Coach Payne has been a member of the Tech staff for all three meetings with Michigan State, serving as associate head coach under then head coach Mike Sutton in both 2005 and 2010.
In the most recent meeting, the Golden Eagles rallied back from an 18-point deficit in the first half to pull within seven late in the contest. Tech ultimately fell to the Spartans, 71-63.
Aleksa Jugovic led the Tech scorers with 14 points while Kajon Mack chipped in 12. Courtney Alexander II hauled in 10 rebounds as a sophomore.
Michigan State was led by Eron Harris, who dropped a game-high 20 points behind 5-of-11 shooting from downtown. Nick Ward and Joshua Langford each posted 10 points in the contest as well.
TECH VERSUS THE BIG TEN
The Golden Eagles are 2-19 all-time against the current membership of the Big Ten Conference. TTU is 1-17 all-time on the road against the Big Ten.
Tech has taken on all but three of conference's 14 teams. The Golden Eagles have never faced Maryland, Michigan or Purdue.
Both of Tech's victories against Big Ten competition have come against Northwestern. The Golden Eagles own a 2-0 mark all time against the Wildcats, including a 1-0 record on the road.
Tech fourth match-up against Michigan State ties for its most against a Big Ten foe. The Golden Eagles have faced Indiana four times, losing all four meetings, including last season by a final score of 87-59.
TECH VERSUS MICHIGAN
The Golden Eagles are 5-8 all-time against current Division I competition from the state of North Carolina, including a 2-6 mark on the road.
Tech has taken on all but two of the seven current Division I programs from the state of Michigan. The Golden Eagles have never faced Detroit or Michigan.
Tech's best record against a Michigan institution is a 4-0 mark against Eastern Michigan. The Golden Eagles' other victory came against Western Michigan, a program they hold a 1-2 record against all time.
Junior Micaiah Henry continued his impressive start to the 2018-19 season, posting a game-high 20 points at No. 7 North Carolina Friday evening on 9-for-14 shooting. He added five rebounds and two blocks
It marked the big man's third 20-point scoring effort on the year, the most by a Tech center in a single season since senior Daniel Northern collected four such games during the 2008-09 campaign.
Freshman point guard Jr. Clay marked Tech's other double-digit scorer, finishing with 10 points, two assists and two steals. Fellow rookie Jared Sherfield recorded a season-high seven points while also turning in a pair of steals.
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 preseason 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 Robert Crawford