February 6, 2009

Sutton’s squad looking to knock off league leaders

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- With a win over Austin Peay last Saturday night – a convincing win – the Morehead State Eagles took over sole possession of first place in the Ohio Valley Conference race. Despite an upset loss Thursday at Jacksonville State, the MSU Eagles are still atop the league, and there’s no doubt that coach Donny Tyndall has his team primed for a run at the 2009 OVC title.

The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, meanwhile, also picked up a convincing win last Saturday, posting a 95-78 victory on the road at Southeast Missouri, then stumbled Thursday with a seven-point loss to Eastern Kentucky. Coach Mike Sutton’s squad is till right in the middle of a logjam battling for the middle spots in the standings

Saturday night, Tech hosts Morehead State in a 7:30 p.m. game in Eblen Center as a three-game homestand continues for the Golden Eagles. It’s going to be one of those photo finishes in the conference, and the Golden Eagles have plenty of opportunities ahead of them.

The Golden Eagles feel they have some unfinished business to settle with Morehead State. In the previous game this season between the two teams, Tech nearly pulled off an improbable comeback, but an off-balance 10-foot shot at the buzzer by Frank Davis on a rebound of his own intentionally missed free throw hit the front of the rim and the host Eagles escaped with a 64-62 victory.

Morehead State saw its 13-point lead evaporate in a 14-2 Tech run during the final five minutes. Junior DJ Lindsay scored seven points in Tech's fight back into the contest, including a 3-pointer with 1:04 to play to make it 63-61.

Foul trouble kept Kenneth Faried, MSU's leading scorer, from reaching double figures but the big sophomore grabbed 16 rebounds and had four steals to go along with his eight points. Leon Buchanan led MSU with 22 points and had eight rebounds, while Demonte Harper added 18 points and seven rebounds.

Lindsay paced Tech with 20 points along with five rebounds and three assists. Alex Davis also hit double figures with 10, along with five rebounds and three blocked shots.

Morehead State owned a 50-32 edge in rebounds.

Tech has three players averaging in double figures in points, and 10 players seeing 10 minutes per game or more.

Northern leads the Golden Eagles in scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounds (8.1 rpg), and tops the OVC in blocked shots with 50. He had a career-high 27 points at SEMO last week and tied his career-high with 18 rebounds.

Junior Will Barnes is second on the team in scoring with 10.7 points per game, leads Tech in assists with 63 and is second in steals. Junior Frank Davis is averaging 10.3 points to rank third on the team, and leads the team in steals with 30. He has hit 54-of-119 3-pointers this season to rank third in the league in 3-point percentage and seventh in 3-pointers per game.

Close behind that trio in scoring, DJ Lindsay is averaging 9.4 points, Alex Davis 7.7 points (8.5 against the OVC), and Kevin Murphy 7.0 points per game.

Leading the way for Morehead State are four players ranked among scoring leaders. Leon Buchanan tops MSU in scoring with 14 points per game, ranks ninth in the league in rebounds with 6.4 per contest, and is also among OVC leaders in field goal and free throw percentage.

Sophomore Kenneth Faried, is averaging 12.6 points per game, and ranks first in the league in rebounds with 12.1 per game. He is third in blocked shots in the OVC, and also charts among the conference’s top players in steals and field goal percentage.

Maze Stallworth (12.1 ppg) and Demonte Harper (11.0) are also averaging in double digits for the Eagles.

These teams have met 127 times through the years, with the MSU side owning a 66-61 edge in the series. The Eagles won the last two encounters, both on their home floor, while Tech won in Cookeville, 73-55. Tech has won four straight in Eblen Center from Morehead State.

Plenty of great seats remain for the games by calling the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or at the game. Doors and ticket booths open Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Saturday's game will be televised LIVE by WCTE TV to the mid-state region. The games can also be heard on the Golden Eagle Sports Network and via FREE Teamline on the telephone or the Internet. Fans may also watch the game develop via live stats on TTUsports.com, or watch the web stream of the game live on OVCsports.TV.