NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When the game is on the line, it's nice for a
coach to know he can look to his...freshmen?
Tennessee Tech got clutch baskets down the stretch from rookies Zach Bailey and Kevin Murphy, while junior Elijah Muhammad and senior Daniel Northern also chipped in with some game-changing plays in the game's final minutes as the Golden Eagles outlasted Lipscomb, 83-72, Saturday night in Allen Arena.
With the non-conference road win, the Golden Eagles are 2-0 for the first time since the start of the 2003-04 season.
"I'm really proud of this win," said seventh-year coach Mike Sutton. "We had to make some toughness' plays and we came up with some key defensive stops.
The Golden Eagles used the depth that has quickly become the trademark of this team, with 10 different players providing points.
"It's not just one. We had all 11 players contribute, and that's what makes us effective," Sutton said. "Our depth is critical for us."
Five players were in double figures for Tech, topped by junior newcomer DJ Lindsay with 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Bailey had 11, while Murphy, Northern and Frank Davis each scored 10.
Lipscomb (1-1) had four players in double digits, with Thomas Pfaff notching a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Teller had 18 and eight rebounds, while Jimmy Oden scored 13 and Brandon Brown added 11.
The score was tied eight times and there were eight lead changes during the evenly played first half. Lindsay drained a 3-pointer with four seconds to play to give Tech a 36-34 lead at the break.
Tech led by nine early in the second half, and stayed on top for the first 10 minutes before Josh Slater's 3-pointer at the 9:36 mark gave Lipscomb a 60-58 lead.
The home team still held the lead with 6:40 remaining, 63-62, when Northern canned a jumper to push the Golden Eagles to a lead they would never relinquish.
A jumper by Murphy with four minutes remaining made it a seven-point Golden Eagle lead, and it eventually grew to the final 11-point difference. With 2:07 to play, Elijah Muhammad knocked down a 12-foot hanging jumper for a 76-70 lead.
In addition to his 10 points and seven rebounds, Northern also had four blocked shots, giving him 116 to jump past Milos Babic into second place on the Tech career list.
Will Barnes finished with eight points and topped Tech with five assists.
The Golden Eagles shot better than 50 percent for the second time this year, hitting 52.4 percent (33-for-63) from the field. Lipscomb shot 39.7 percent and had a 40-36 lead in rebounds.
It was an historic night for Tech basketball, as the two teams were playing the first road non-conference doubleheader in 26 years. The last time occurred on Dec. 4, 1982, when both teams played in a twinbill at Auburn.
The game at Lipscomb was the first meeting between the two schools since 1974, and the Golden Eagles improved their all-time record against the Bisons to 37-3. Lipscomb visits Tech for a rematch on Dec. 1.
The Golden Eagles' next game is Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Eblen Center, when Southern Utah visits for the first-ever meeting between the two schools.