Eastern Kentucky (14-13) at Tennessee Tech (16-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 15th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Center (9,280) -- Cookeville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Eastern Kentucky 9-2, Tennessee Tech 8-4. Away Record: Eastern Kentucky 4-10, Tennessee Tech 6-7. Neutral Record: Eastern Kentucky 1-1, Tennessee Tech 2-0. Conference Record: Eastern Kentucky 6-7, Tennessee Tech 8-6. Series Record: Eastern Kentucky leads, 68-55.
GAME NOTES: Tennessee Tech looks to right the ship after consecutive losses and gain positioning in the Ohio Valley Conference as league foe Eastern Kentucky travels to the Eblen Center Wednesday.
Tennessee Tech fell victim to surging Tennessee State Saturday as the Tigers ripped off their seventh win in a row, 68-53 at home. The visiting Golden Eagles struggled with their shooting yet again, hitting at just a 35.6-percent clip from the field, including a 4-for-21 showing from three-point range. TTU also made just half of its 14 free-throw attempts as TSU ran away with the game in the second half behind a 57.1-percent shooting clinic. Jud Dillard paced the Golden Eagles with 14 points and 13 rebounds while Zac Swansey scored 11 points and dished five assists. The OVC's top scorer, Kevin Murphy, was held to just eight points on 3-of-16 shooting as TTU dropped to 8-6 in conference play.
Eastern Kentucky had its own offensive woes to deal with in suffering a 58-45 home loss to Morehead State Saturday. The Colonels mustered an astonishing four field goals on 24 attempts (16.7 percent) in the first half for just 12 points. Perhaps more amazing was that MSU could only post 19 points, though, the Eagles righted the ship and pulled away early in the second half. EKU wound up shooting 30.6 percent from the field overall with Jaron Jones' 20 points the lone bright spot. The Colonels dropped to 6-7 in league play with their second loss in three games.
Eastern Kentucky leads the all-time series by a 68-55 count, though Tennessee Tech has won the last three encounters. That includes the Golden Eagles' 82-65 thrashing of EKU in Richmond January 26.
The Golden Eagles are usually proficient when it comes to putting it in the cylinder, throwing down 73.0 points per game and connecting at a 46.7-percent clip from the field -- good for second and third, respectively, in the OVC. The defensive effort pales in comparison though, allowing 71.3 ppg on 44.7 percent shooting. The Golden Eagles certainly have plenty of firepower to overcome their defense, starting with Murphy, who still averages 21.0 ppg despite his struggles versus TSU. Dillard isn't far behind either, slotting in third in the OVC with an 18.0-point average. Dillard is also the league's top rebounder, securing 8.7 per contest, while Murphy kicks in 5.5 boards and leads the club with 63 threes on 42.3 percent shooting. Swansey is another big part of TTU's success, with a league-leading 5.9 assists per game and 2.3 steals while netting 7.9 ppg. The Golden Eagles also own the league's top overall margin on the glass at plus-2.7 (34.3-31.5).
The Colonels are paced by the senior Jones, who sits among the conference's top scorers at 16.1 ppg. Jones is also among the OVC elite in field-goal percentage, connecting on 55.4 percent of his field goals, but is often left to carry the team. Mike DiNunno and Joshua Jones kick in identical 9.9-point averages with the latter drilling a team-high 40 threes on 35.1 percent shooting. D'Mitri Riggs and Eric Stutz do their best to fill the scoring void as well, chipping in 8.3 and 8.1-point averages, respectively. Stutz also leads the team in rebounding with 4.9 per contest and sits second to Jaron Jones on the roster with a solid 52.9 shooting percentage. Overall, EKU sits in the middle of the pack among its OVC counterparts with 65.5 ppg and a 43.4 shooting percentage. The defense is effective at times, but also unspectacular in surrendering 65.3 ppg and a 45.1-percent shooting clip. One area of serious deficiency is on the boards where the Colonels secure a league-low 29.1 caroms per contest with an inferior minus-4.0 rebounding margin.
Tennessee Tech is running the risk of its shooting deficiency becoming a trend, and at the worst point in the season. The Golden Eagles simply have too much talent to continue down the same road and should be able to bounce back at home against a rather average opponent in EKU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee Tech 76, Eastern Kentucky 68
02/15 10:35:19 ET