Murphy, Davis pace Golden Eagles over Lipscomb, 92-89

Co-captains Muhammad, Davis make big plays in final minute

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech senior co-captain Elijah Muhammad reached into his bag of tricks Thursday night, pulling out a gadget play that led to a layup that might have won the game for the Golden Eagles.

Near mid-court, Muhammad bounced an inbounds pass off the back of his defender and took it all the way to the basket for a layup with 39 seconds remaining to help Tech (2-1) claim a 92-89 non-conference victory at Lipscomb University.

“Somebody did that to me in junior college, and I learned my lesson from it,” Muhammad said. “I saw he was set up with his back to me so I thought, all right here we go, and I just bounced it off him and took off.”

Sophomore Kevin Murphy scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half, and senior Frank Davis knocked down 15 of his 20 in the second including two free throws with 9.9 seconds remaining.

“We showed unbelievable heart tonight,” said Golden Eagle coach Mike Sutton. “I’m really proud of the kids. It’s been a really difficult opening part of the schedule but our kids have done a good job trying to do whatever we’ve asked of them.”

Five players scored in double figures for Tech. In addition to Murphy and Davis, junior Alfred Jones had 16 points and six rebounds, Muhammad 11 points and eight assists, and Jud Dillard scored 10. Terrell Barnes came off the bench to contribute six points and six rebounds.

Muhammad’s basket came during a hectic final 3:21 as Lipscomb looked to complete a comeback that erased a seven-point TTU lead.

“They’re a good team,” Sutton said. “I see why they’re one of the favorites in the A-Sun Conference. We’re really happy to get out of here with a win. It was a game of runs. We knew Lipscomb would make a run and they made a lot of plays at the end.”

The Bisons pulled within one point, 90-89, with 10 seconds to play and the Golden Eagles put the ball into the hands of Davis at the free throw line. The senior co-captain hasn’t missed at the charity stripe this season and he sank both shots to put Tech on top by three with 9.9 seconds on the clock.

Lipscomb worked the ball to Michael Teller for a pretty good shot from the top of the key but his 3-point try rolled off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

It appeared that Lipscomb might run away with the contest midway through the first half after the Bisons put together an 11-2 run to build a 21-12 lead with 11:50 to play.

But a couple minutes later, trailing by eight, the Golden Eagles found the right combination with five different players scoring during a 15-3 run over the next five minutes. Alfred Jones started the run with a jumper in the lane and he capped it with a layup with 4:25 remaining that put the Golden Eagles ahead, 32-28. Terrell Barnes, Muhammad, Jud Dillard and Murphy all put points on the board during the stretch.

Tech had another run during the final 2:45, outscoring Lipscomb 9-2 to build the Golden Eagle lead to nine for the largest TTU lead of the first half. Tech took a 48-41 lead into halftime.

Tech’s largest lead of the contest was 11 points early in the second half on a basket by Murphy, but Lipscomb just kept hacking away. The Bisons never regained the lead, but cut the margin to one point four times.

Adnan Hodzic topped Lipscomb in scoring with 24 points along with seven rebounds. Josh Slater added 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Teller added 13 and Brandon Brown scored 10 and led the Bisons with eight rebounds. Lipscomb held a 36-33 edge in rebounds.

Tech’s early season road stretch continues Friday night as the Golden Eagles play at the University of Memphis, the fourth consecutive road game to open the year. Tipoff in the FedEx Forum is at 7 p.m.

Tech plays its first home game on Monday night, a 7 p.m. contest in Eblen Center against Oakland University. It will be Tech’s third of four games in the Hall of Fame Showcase, which wraps up next Friday (Nov. 27) at No. 1 Kansas.

Tickets for the Oakland game, as well as 2009-2010 season tickets, are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.

NOTES: Tech owns a 39-3 all-time record against Lipscomb including two wins last year…The last time the Bisons beat the Golden Eagles was 53 years ago, back in 1956, but the teams didn’t play for a 33-year span from 1975 to 2008…Lipscomb is picked as co-favorite in the A-Sun Conference, while the Golden Eagles are picked for seventh place in the Ohio Valley Conference.