COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The top freshman class in the Ohio Valley
Conference -- according to Rivals.com -- along with three other
newcomers, was on display for the first time Monday night in Eblen
Center. What they helped unveil was mighty impressive.
Newcomers played key roles and scored a combined 61 points as Tennessee Tech rolled to a convincing 91-56 exhibition win over a stubborn Anderson College squad in front of 1,551 fans as coach Mike Sutton got his seventh season underway on a high note.
Tech exhibited excellent balance on both ends of the floor. The bench produced 50 of Tech's points, and the defense forced 23 turnovers. Tech scored 31 points off turnovers.
"Overall I was pleased with the way we played tonight," said Sutton. "We hope to have at least two guys who can play each spot, and that's what we were looking for tonight. I think we took much better care of the ball in the second half, we passed the ball really well, and I was pleased with our defensive effort most of the game."
Redshirt sophomore Alex Davis, who sat out last season, returned to the lineup for the first time in two years and led Tech with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Freshman Kevin Murphy had 12 points and six rebounds in his introduction to the college game. Junior guard Will Barnes was also in double figures with 11 points, and led Tech with six assists.
"Alex sat out a year to work on his academics, and he has worked very hard," Sutton said. "He has had a nice preseason, and he's a capable offensive player. He has a knack for scoring. He just needs to rebound a little better."
Kevis Cornwell topped Anderson with 14 points while Trey Britton had 12 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Young added nine points and five assists for the Trojans.
Anderson put up a good fight throughout the first half, especially after falling behind by 11 midway through the period. Up by four, Tech got a jumper from Murphy, a 3-pointer by Elijah Cunningham-Muhammad and a layup by Alfred Jones to make it 21-10 with 11:18 to play.
Anderson then outscored Tech 14-4 over the next nine minutes to pull within a point, 25-24. The Golden Eagles notched the final six points of the half to head to halftime with a 31-24 advantage.
After the intermission, Tech quickly took the lead into double figures, sparked by a couple of baskets by preseason all-OVC center Daniel Northern. Anderson cut it to 12 points, 45-33, on a layup by Cornwell, but that was as close as the Trojans managed.
The lead swelled from 15 to 20 at the free throw line after Anderson head coach Jason Taylor was whistled for a pair of technical fouls. Senior Zac Walker came off the bench cold and drained all four free throws, and Jones added a fifth to make it 53-33.
The largest lead of the game came in the final minutes, including the final score, at 35 points.
Northern finished the game with seven points and tied for the team-lead with six rebounds. Jones had nine points, DJ Lindsay, Bassey Inameti and Muhammad also scored seven points.
Tech shot a sizzling 58.1 percent (36-for-62) from the field while Anderson was at 38 percent (19-for-50).
The Golden Eagles get the 2008-09 season underway for keeps on Saturday night, hosting Bryan College in the second game of a doubleheader in Eblen Center to start the regular season. The night begins with a women's game against Louisville at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets for the game, as well as TTU season tickets, are on sale at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.