Tech sits half-game back of third-place Colonels
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Positioning in the Ohio Valley Conference race is at stake Thursday night when Tennessee Tech visits Eastern Kentucky in a battle of two clubs in the top five of the league standings.
The Golden Eagles (12-8, 4-3 OVC) are fifth in the OVC and sit a half-game behind the third-place Colonels (12-9, 5-3 OVC) and Austin Peay.
Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. at McBrayer Arena in Richmond, Ky.
Tech is coming off a 77-62 win over Southeast Missouri on Saturday while Eastern Kentucky has won two straight games over UT Martin and Longwood. The Colonels are undefeated at home this season, bringing an 8-0 mark into Thursday's matchup.
The Golden Eagles will be facing Eastern Kentucky for the 123rd time on Thursday, continuing a series that began in 1950. Tech swept the season series against EKU a year ago and has won two consecutive in the series.
Prior to last season, however, the series had been controlled by the Colonels in recent years – EKU is 7-3 in its last 10 games against Tech. EKU holds a 68-54 edge in the all-time series against the Golden Eagles.
Conference rank was at stake in a major way the last time the two squads met on Feb. 3, 2011 in Cookeville. Tech was one game back of first place in the OVC while the Colonels were one game back of the Golden Eagles. Behind 25 points from Kevin Murphy and 14 rebounds from Alfred Jones, Tech took a hard-fought 63-54 victory.
The Golden Eagles feature the No. 3 scoring duo in NCAA Division I in guards Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard, who combine to average 37.7 points per contest. Murphy leads Tech and the OVC in scoring with 19.4 points per game while Dillard ranks third in the league with 18.3 per outing.
Golden Eagle players also lead the OVC in four other categories – Jud Dillard in rebounds (8.7 per game) and defensive rebounds (5.9) and Zac Swansey in assists (5.7) and steals (2.6).
Senior guard Jaron Jones leads Eastern Kentucky in scoring, averaging 16.0 points per game to rank sixth in the OVC in scoring. The Colonels are led in rebounding by freshman forward Eric Stutz, who pulls down 5.2 boards per contest.
Thursday's game will be broadcast on the Golden Eagle Sports Network, WHUB AM 1400 and on the Internet at www.1400TheHub.com. A live web stream is available at OVCSports.tv. Fans can also listen via Teamline by calling (216) 502-3200 and entering team code 0654. Cost is $5 per call.
-Jud Dillard needs just 35 points to become the 34th member of Tech's 1,000-point club. Dillard has 965 career points and is averaging 18.3 per game this season.
-Dillard ranks in the top 100 among NCAA Division I players in four different categories. He is 38th in points per game (18.3), 57th in field goal percentage (52.3), 58th in rebounds (8.7) and 88th in free-throw percentage (82.6).
-Zac Swansey ranks ninth in NCAA Division I in steals, averaging 2.6 per contest.