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Golden Eagles take on perennial power Austin Peay Governors

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Facing Austin Peay is like trying to slay a two-headed dragon -- get too concerned about Drake Reed and Wes Channels will find a way to beat you.

That's the assignment Monday night for coach Mike Sutton's Golden Eagles, as Tennessee Tech hosts the Austin Peay Governors at 7 p.m. in Eblen Center, in an Ohio Valley Conference rivalry game.

Reed leads APSU and ranks third in the OVC in scoring, averaging 20.5 points per game. He is fourth in the conference in rebounds (7.7 rpg), second in field goal percentage, 11th in free throw percentage, and fourth in minutes played.

Channels, who had 28 against Tech in the first meeting, is fourth in the OVC in scoring with 17.5 ppg, 14th in assists, third in free throw percentage, 10th in 3-point percentage, fourth in 3-pointers made per game, 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio, and ninth in minutes played.

It seems that pair never leaves the floor.

But that one-two combination isn’t the only thing the Govs have going strong this year. Head coach Dave Loos has uncovered a wealth of weapons that the Golden Eagles will need to contend with tonight, including guard Caleb Brown (who’s 12th in the OVC in assists), pickpockets Kyle Duncan (who’s 11th in the OVC in steals) and Ernest Fields (15th in steals), bomber Anthony Campbell (7th in the OVC in 3-point percentage) and stone wall Marcel Williams (7th in blocked shots).

If there’s a team in the league with enough weapons to counter the Austin Peay arsenal, it could be the Golden Eagles, although Tech came up short against APSU in the first meeting this year in Clarksville.

Golden Eagle coach Mike Sutton has been using 12 different players this year, has put 13 different starting lineups on the floor, and is getting extremely balanced production from his deep bench.

Tech’s attack begins in the backcourt, where junior guards Will Barnes and Frank Davis spearhead the effort, with plenty of help from Zach Bailey, Elijah Muhammad, Kevin Murphy and DJ Lindsay.

Barnes is second on the tem and 20th in the OVC in scoring with 10.7 points per game. He ranks eighth in field goal percentage, 12th in assists and 14th in steals. Davis is third on the team and 24th in the OVC with 10.3 ppg. A first-team Academic All-District pick, Davis is also third in 3-point percentage, sixth in 3-pointers per game, and 10th in steals.

Lindsay is fourth (9.1 ppg) and Murpjy sixth (7.6 ppg) in scoring. Bailey chips in 4.2 points per game and has 38 assists while Muhammad is averaging 4.5 points and is second in assists with 57.

Up front, the leader is Daniel Northern, who leads Tech and ranks 15th in the conference in scoring with 12.0 points per game. The 6-9 senior is second in the OVC in rebounds, 11th in field goal percentage, and first in blocked shots.

Also in the frontcourt, Tech has gotten solid production from Alex Davis (77. Ppg/3.2 rpg), Alfred Jones (4.5 ppg/2.4 rpg) and Bassey Inameti (3.2 ppg/1.6 rpg).

IN THE FIRST MEETING with APSU, the Governors claimed an 87-71 in the Dunn Center as Channels scored 28 and Drake Reed added 23.

Northern notched his fifth double-double of the season and 19th of his career, topping Tech with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He also added three more blocked shots to his league-leading total. Barnes and Murphy also scored 12 points for Tech, each connecting from long range. Barnes was 4-for-4 outside the arc and Murphy was 3-for-4.

Alex Davis was the fourth Golden Eagle to score in double figures, contributing 10 points and seven rebounds.

Channels was 9-for-15 from the field on his way to a game-high 28 points. He also had seven rebounds and three assists, and single-handedly topped Tech at the free throw line. The Golden Eagles went a combined 6-for-9 at the line, while Channels alone was 8-for-9 at the charity stripe.

Reed was 10-for-17 and finished with 23 points and seven rebounds. Campbell also hit twin figures, scoring 12 points, while Williams grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Governors broke open a one-point game over the final nine minutes of the first half with a 20-6 run to build a 14-point lead. APSU was on top by 10 at halftime, 37-27 after Tech scored the final four points.

The Govs maintained a double digit lead throughout the entire second half. Tech was able to pull to within 12 points during the first four minutes, but another run by the Govs, this time a 13-2 stretch, pushed the margin to 23 points, 57-34, on a layup by Channels.

The largest APSU lead of the contest was 24 points, 64-40, with 10:36 to play, before the Golden Eagles crept back to within 13 in the final four minutes.

The Golden Eagles were charged with only 12 turnovers in the game, while APSU had just 13. Rebounds were dead-even with 39 each. A major difference in the contest was the shooting accuracy. APSU shot 53.4 percent while Tech hit 38.6 percent.

The game with APSU wraps up a three-game homestand for the Golden Eagles. The schedule takes Tech to Murray State Thursday night and UT Martin on Saturday.