Tech, Eastern Illinois battling to move near the top of the OVC standings

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The early-season homecourt advantage comes to an end Monday night for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team when it hosts Eastern Illinois in Eblen Center. Nine of the Golden Eagles' first 13 games were scheduled on their home floor, but that string runs out after the Panthers come calling for a 7:30 p.m. contest, the second game of an Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader.

Tickets for the doubleheader are available at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center, which will be open Monday from 8 a.m. until noon, and from 1 p.m. until the games. Tickets are also available online by clicking here.

The homecourt has been pretty good to Tech, which owns a 62 record in Eblen Center after downing Southeast Missouri, 103-76, on Saturday night. Tech is 7-5 overall and 1-1 in the conference.

Tech's seven victories is tied for the most wins in the league.
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Eastern Illinois is 5-8 overall after getting a league win at Jacksonville State Saturday night, leaving the Panthers with a 2-1 worksheet in the conference.

EIU split their two December OVC games, beating Tennessee State, 71-61, before dropping an 81-73 contest to Austin Peay.

Hired in mid-April of 2005 after five years as the associate head coach at Kansas State University, Mike Miller is in his fourth season as EIU head coach.

Sharp-shooting guard Romain Martin, a 6-3 junior from Minneaopolis, leads EIU in scoring with 16.1 points per game. He hitting 42 percent from long distance and tops the team in steals.

Two other players, T.J. Marion and Tyler Laser, are scoring in double figures for the Panthers and each is shooting exactly 50 percent from the field. Marion, a 6-4 junior, is scoring 11.1 points and grabbing 4.3 rebounds. He leads EIU with 45 assists. Laser is a 6-1 sophomore, and he's averaging 10.2 points per game and has 39 assists to rank second on the squad. He has also been deadly from outside the arc, hitting 48 percent.

Another Panther who has caused problems for the Golden Eagles is Ousmane Cisse, a 6-8 junior from the Ivory Coast. A 55 percent shooter, he's averaging 7.3 points and leads EIU with 6.2 rebounds per game.

Three players average in double digits for coach Mike Sutton's squad, led by Daniel Northern with 11.9 points per game. The senior center also leads Tech on the boards with 8.0 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Will Barnes, coming off a career-high 27-point game at UL Monroe and 18 against SEMO, is averaging 11.2 points per contest and leads Tech with 31 assists. Also in double digits, junior DJ Lindsay is scoring 10.4 points per game. He ranks second on the team in rebounds with 4.8 per game, and is shooting 51 percent from the field.

Junior Frank Davis, the team's top 3-point gunner, is averaging 10.2 points per game after scoring 18 against the Redhawks.

Tech won both games against EIU last year.

In the first meeting, which took place during a December snowstorm in Charleston, the Golden Eagles raced to a 15-0 start and Amadi McKenzie hit the 1,000-point mark in his career as Tech cruised to a 72-53 road victory.

All 10 players who saw action scored for Tech, led by McKenzie's 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Northern had his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Davis netted 11 and Anthony Fisher contributed 10 points and five assists.

McKenzie bumped his career scoring mark to 1,001 points.

Tech limited EIU to 34 percent shooting in the contest and forced 19 turnovers.

Martin led EIU with 20 points while Bobby Catchings scored 12 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Tech had a 41-40 edge on the boards.

Tech used a surge late in the first half to grab the lead and controlled the tempo and boards in the second half on the way to posting a 74-57 victory in the rematch in Eblen Center.

Northern grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds, blocked three shots and posted his sixth double-double of the year with 12 points to lead Tech

Eastern Illinois took an early lead in the contest and held the upper hand for the first 13 minutes, but the Golden Eagles took control and led the balance of the contest. Fisher led Tech in scoring with 19 points, while McKenzie added 18 points and six rebounds. Frank Davis scored 11.

EIU, which shot 44.8 percent in the opening period, was held to 34.6 percent in the second half to finish the game at 40 percent.

Jon'Tae Willhite topped the Panthers in scoring with 17 points while Jake Byrne added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.