Golden Eagles avenge earlier loss to Gamecocks
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Tennessee Tech got big performances from Jud Dillard, Kevin Murphy and Zac Swansey and won its fifth game out of its last six Saturday, picking up a 76-68 victory over Jacksonville State at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
With the win, the Golden Eagles moved into second place in the Ohio Valley Conference after Tennessee State defeated Southeast Missouri State on Saturday. The Golden Eagles moved into a tie with the Tigers, bumping SEMO to third.
The Golden Eagles are now 16-9 overall and 8-4 in conference play. Jacksonville State fell to 10-16 overall and 5-7 in the OVC.
Dillard notched his sixth double-double of the season, leading the Golden Eagles in both scoring and rebounding with 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 12 boards. Much of Dillard's production came early in the game – at the 11:42 mark of the first half, the junior guard had already accumulated 14 points.
Murphy scored 20-plus points for the fifth time in Tech's last six games, going for 23 and tacking on seven rebounds and three assists. Swansey notched his fourth double-digit assist game this season, distributing 11 helpers to go with six points and three steals.
Tech built an early first-half lead, pulling ahead by seven with 12:50 left in the period and maintaining that lead throughout the half to take a 37-29 lead into the locker room. The Golden Eagles held their largest lead of the afternoon with 13:31 left to play with a 15-point advantage and maintained a double-digit lead through most of the game.
Jacksonville State sliced into the advantage on back-to-back three-pointers by Brian Williams to cut the lead to 72-65 with 55 seconds to play. The push was too little, too late for the Gamecocks, however, as Dillard and Javon McKay combined to go 4-for-4 at the free-throw line to seal the win.
The Golden Eagles have now won three consecutive games and avenged a last-second loss to Jacksonville State earlier this season in Cookeville.
Tech shot a blazing 59 percent from the field while holding the Gamecocks to 43 percent shooting. The Golden Eagles hit just one three-pointer and went 15-for-20 from the free-throw line. The Golden Eagles dished out 21 assists on the night and snatched nine steals while outrebounding JSU by two.
In addition to strong performances from Murphy, Dillard and Swansey, Tech got six points, four boards and two blocked shots from McKay, while Zach Bailey added four points and four rebounds and Bassey Inameti contributed four points and three assists.
Jacksonville State was paced 19 points from Tarvin Gaines and 18 from Williams. Nick Cook added team highs in rebounds with eight and assists with five.
The Golden Eagles return home to host Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. on Thursday.