February 28, 2012

Golden Eagles prep for quarterfinals, OVC title pursuit

Tech will face either Southeast Missouri or Eastern Kentucky

Click here for OVC Tournament Central

Click here for TTU game notes (.pdf)

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech will open its quest for an Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship on Thursday evening at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

The Golden Eagles, the No. 4 seed, will face either fifth-seeded Southeast Missouri State or eighth-seeded Eastern Kentucky in the tournament quarterfinals. A victory would put Tech in Friday's semifinals against top seed and ninth-ranked Murray State.

TTU will be looking to reach the tournament final for the second straight season after upsetting Murray State in the semifinals to reach the title game a season ago. Tech was also the four seed in that tournament.

Coming into the tournament, Tech players lead the OVC in points (Kevin Murphy, 20.6) rebounds (Jud Dillard, 8.7), assists (Zac Swansey, 5.9) and steals (Swansey, 2.2).

The Golden Eagles continue to boast the No. 3 scoring duo in NCAA Division I in Murphy and Dillard, who combine to pour in 38.6 points per game. Dillard averages 18.0 points per contest and is fourth among OVC scorers.

When he takes the floor in Thursday's game, Murphy will become Tech's all-time leader in games played, setting a  new career record with 126. During the tournament, he will also have the opportunity to become only the second player in Tech history to score 2,000 career points. Murphy currently has 1,957 points and needs 43 more to reach the milestone.

Tickets for the tournament are on sale through the Tennessee Tech ticket office. The only way to receive seating in the Tech section is to purchase your tickets through the Eblen Center box office at (931) 372-3940.

Scouting Southeast Missouri

Tech is 1-0 this season in matchups against Southeast Missouri, with the sole meeting between the two squads resulting in a 77-62 Golden Eagle victory on Jan. 21 at Eblen Center.

In that game, Murphy scored 26 points and went 4-for-4 from three-point range to lead Tech. Dillard added 15 points and six assists while Bassey Inameti scored 10 and Tech shot 56.6 percent from the field.

Tech led wire-to-wire, racing out to a 10-3 lead.

Three Redhawks average in double-figures, led by All-OVC Second Team selection Tyler Stone, who averages 14.3 points per contest. Marland Smith contributes 12.3 per game while Leon Powell scores 10.9. Stone and Powell lead the team in rebounding, averaging 7.1 and 7.0 boards per outing, respectively.

The Redhawks lead the league in assists, averaging 14.8 per game, and are also first in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.1.

Scouting Eastern Kentucky

Tech is 2-0 this season against Eastern Kentucky, defeating the Colonels 82-65 on Jan. 26 in Richmond and winning 74-67 on Feb. 15 in Cookeville.

In games against EKU this season, Murphy has averaged 19.5 points per contest while Dillard has scored 17.0 per game and added 9.5 rebounds. Zach Bailey has added 12.0 against the Colonels. 

Eastern Kentucky is led offensively by All-OVC Second Team selection Jaron Jones, who averages 16.7 points per contest. Joshua Jones also scores in double-figures at 10.7 points per game. Eric Stutz leads the Colonels in rebounding with 4.5 boards per game.

EKU takes good care of the basketball, ranking first in the OVC in turnover margin at +2.61 per contest. The Colonels are second in assist-to-turnover ratio.