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Golden Eagles give great effort in loss at No. 1 Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team knew it had a tough task ahead of it when it visited No. 1 Kansas Friday night, but the Golden Eagles worked hard and hung in throughout much of the game in a 112-75 loss to the Jayhawks in front of a capacity crowd of 16,300 at Allen Fieldhouse.

“Everything here is very first class,” Tennessee Tech head coach Mike Sutton said. “Our kids may not understand it now, but one day they will fully understand how big of a deal it is to play in an environment like this and to play at a place like this with so much tradition in the game of college basketball.”

Tech scored the first two points of the game on a jumper from Bassey Inameti, and Tech led 6-5 four minutes into the game before Kansas would make its first run. A 22-3 spurt would give the Jayhawks a 27-9 lead. But the Golden Eagles fought right back, scoring eight straight points on an 11-2 run to pull within 29-20 with less than seven minutes to play in the first half. The Golden Eagles were down just 10 with under three minutes to play in the half, but that’s when Kansas put together a 13-1 run to close the half with a 53-31 advantage. The Jayhawks would extend their lead to 58-31 to start the second half and lead by 22 or more the rest of the way.

“I think the game was about a nine point game when they started to pull away,” Sutton said. “We tried to play the game in four minute segments and that is all you can do against a team like this. They shot the ball very well, but our kids competed and that is all that you can ask of them. This is our seventh game since November 13th so I was a little worried about fatigue, but I felt we reached down and played hard.”

Tech was led by Frank Davis who scored 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting including 4-of-5 from long distance. Zach Bailey provided a big spark off the bench for the Golden Eagles, as he scored a career-high 16 points and added four rebounds, two steals and an assist. Byron Pickens came one point shy of a double-double as he set career highs in points with nine and rebounds with 10.

Jud Dillard scored eight points to go along with five rebounds and three assists, and Elijah Muhammad scored five points and dished out six assists. Redshirt-freshman Charles Newton scored three points on 1-of-1 shooting from three-point distance. Tech got a total of 39 points from its bench.

But despite a great all-around effort from the Golden Eagles, Kansas had too many weapons for Tech to deal with. The Jayhawks had five players reach double-figures in scoring, led by Tyshawn Taylor’s 18. Xavier Henry scored 15 and had five assists, Cole Aldrich had 14 and 10 rebounds, Sherron Collins scored 12 points and Markieff Morris had 11.

The Golden Eagles fell to 3-4 on the season, while Kansas improved to 5-0.

Tech shot 27-of-69 (39.1 percent) from the field for the game and hit 6-of-11 (54.4 percent) from long range. Tech hit 15-of-19 (78.9 percent) of its free throws, including 8-of-8 in the second half.

The Jayhawks hit 14-of-25 of their three pointers, and shot 60.6 percent (40-of-66) from the filed for the game. 23 of KU’s points came off of turnovers, and 19 came on the fast break.

The Golden Eagles outrebounded Kansas by a 38-37 margin, and held a 17-11 advantage in offensive rebounds, which led to 10 second-chance points. Tech turned the ball over 15 times in the contest, and forced the Jayhawks into 10 giveaways.

“I was pleased with our efforts on the boards, obviously when you can outrebound a team like Kansas,” Sutton said. “But they don’t get as many chances to get offensive rebounds because they shot such a high percentage.”

The Golden Eagles will return to Cookeville for four of their five games in the month of December. Tech will begin that stretch with a non-conference showdown against Evansville from the Missouri Valley Conference on Dec. 1. The Golden Eagles will then go on the road to open up Ohio Valley Conference play at Jacksonville State on Dec. 5. Tech will wrap up the month with home games against Ball State (Dec. 12), Bryan College (Dec. 19) and Union (Dec. 30).

Single game and season tickets are available now by contacting the Tennessee Tech athletic ticket office at 372-3940. Tickets can also be purchased at TTUsports.com.


Photos by Laura Jacobsen