West Virginia poses tough test for surging Golden Eagles
MORGANTOWN, W.V. – Tennessee Tech comes into Monday's matchup with Big East Conference foe West Virginia on the strength of a three-game winning streak.
The game is the first for Tech in the iBN Sports Las Vegas Classic, which continues with two games at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 22 and 23. With just three games remaining prior to the beginning of Ohio Valley Conference play, the Golden Eagles have won four of their last five contests. Monday's game at West Virginia is the last of three games Tech has played this season against members of high-major conferences.
After picking up home wins over in-state rivals East Tennessee State and Lipscomb, the Golden Eagles began their six-game road swing with a two-point win at Evansville on Saturday. A strong defensive effort down the stretch in the second half lifted the Golden Eagles to the come-from-behind 72-70 victory. Kevin Murphy sank a contested three-pointer from the wing with 27 seconds left to erase a one-point Evansville advantage and give Tech an advantage it wouldn't lose. Murphy led the team in scoring with 23 points while Jud Dillard added 18.
Monday's matchup marks the first-ever meeting between Tech and West Virginia. The Golden Eagles are looking for their first-ever win against current members of the Big East Conference – TTU is currently 0-12 against the league with their last game against a Big East opponent coming in the first game of the 2007-08 season at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights won 70-64.
Tech players currently lead the Ohio Valley Conference in five individual categories – Kevin Murphy in scoring (21.0), Jud Dillard in rebounding (8.3) and defensive rebounding (5.9) and Zac Swansey in assists (5.5) and steals (2.6). In addition to his high rebounding numbers, Dillard is also averaging 16.5 points per contest.
Kevin Jones leads West Virginia, averaging a double-double with 20.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Jones is also hitting 57 percent from the field. Darryl Bryant and Deniz Kilicli also score in double-figures for the Mountaineers, averaging 16.7 and 12.2 points per game respectively.
West Virginia enters the contest with a 7-2 record and is also coming off three consecutive victories over Kansas State, Miami (Fla.) and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The Mountaineers' losses have come on the road at Mississippi State and at home against Kent State.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live on WHUB, AM 1400 and on the Internet at www.1400TheHub.com. Fans can also listen via Teamline by calling (216) 502-3200 and entering team code 0654. Cost is $5 per call.
The Golden Eagles head to Las Vegas after battling the Mountaineers. Tech will first face Kennesaw State at 4:30 p.m. CT Thursday, then play either Bethune-Cookman or Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the final game of the event on Friday.