Tennessee Tech (6-6) at Jacksonville State (8-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pete Mathews Coliseum (5,500) -- Jacksonville, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: TTU 4-1, JSU 4-0. Away Record: TTU 2-5, JSU 2-3. Neutral Record: TTU 0-0, JSU 2-0. Conference Record: TTU 0-0, JSU 0-0. Series Record: Tennessee Tech leads, 11-9.
GAME NOTES: Ohio Valley Conference play gets underway on Saturday, as the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles tangle with the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Alabama.
Tennessee Tech has been inconsistent at best so far this season, splitting the first 12 games. The team was pitted against nationally-ranked Oklahoma State last weekend and was handed a 78-42 setback, the second in a row and the third in the last four games for the program.
As for the Gamecocks, they have been out of action since suffering a 59-55 loss to Nebraska on the road on Dec. 18. The setback snapped the team's five- game win streak, but was still just its third defeat in 11 outings on the season.
Tennessee Tech leads the all-time series between these two teams by a count of 11-9, posting a 76-68 win in the most recent matchup in early February.
The Golden Eagles got off just 17 field goal attempts in the first half against Oklahoma State last week in Stillwater. Needless to say, TTU fell behind immediately and never recovered, posting a mere 15 made field goals while turning the ball over 20 times. Jud Dillard refused to go away quietly as he tallied 18 points and pulled down six rebounds, but his mere 5-of-11 shooting at the free-throw line did little to show that the Golden Eagles were up for a serious comeback bid. Jeremiah Samarrippas was credited with 11 points as he made good on 3-of-7 beyond the arc which means he and Dillard accounted for all four of the unit's 3-point conversions, but at the same time were charged with 10 turnovers. Dillard, who has almost as many turnovers (25) as assists (27) over 12 games, leads this group in both scoring (18.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg), while Samarrippas (9.8 ppg) has tried to subsidize his 39.1 percent shooting from the floor with more than four assists per contest.
Shooting only 30.8 percent from the floor in the first half and 36.2 percent for the entire game at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, the Gamecocks were lucky to be as close as they were at the final buzzer versus the Cornhuskers. Except for Rinaldo Mafra who played just 10 minutes and finished scoreless, every JSU starter scored in double figures led by Darion Rackley with 17 points. Tarvin Gaines accounted for 13 points, Ronnie Boggs 11 and Brian Williams 10 points in the narrow setback. Mafra lack of input is nothing new really for the Gamecocks, seeing as how he is scoring just 4.3 ppg and has registered a combined three points in his last four outings. On the other hand, Rackley and Gaines are both crucial pieces of the offensive puzzle for the Gamecocks with averages of 13.7 and 12.3 ppg, respectively, entering the weekend. Defensively, this is a group that has managed to limit the competition to just 24.3 percent from 3-point range and 59.5 ppg overall.
As long as the Gamecocks can prevent Dillard from having a huge game and the rest of TTU goes along for the ride, this is a game that JSU should be able to put in the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 66, Tennessee Tech 58
12/29 10:43:15 ET