Winners of three straight, Golden Eagles host Eastern Illinois Thursday
Tech tied with Tennessee State for second in OVC
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Ohio Valley Conference season is winding down and the race is on as Tennessee Tech makes a push to finish in the league's top two, thereby earning a bye into the semifinals of the OVC Tournament.
For the Golden Eagles, who are tied with Tennessee State in second place in the league, that quest continues with Thursday's game against Eastern Illinois. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at the Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles come into the matchup having won three consecutive games and five of their last six, three of which have come away from home. Tech boasts a 16-9 overall record and an 8-4 mark in the OVC.
After a strong start to the season in non-conference play, Eastern Illinois has struggled within the league and brings a 9-14 overall record and a 2-9 OVC mark into the contest.
The Golden Eagles will face EIU for the 33rd time, a series in which they hold a 21-12 advantage. Tech is 7-3 in its last 10 games against the Panthers and has won three consecutive games, including a sweep in last year's season series. The two games were decided by a combined four points, however, and both were won on Zac Swansey field goals in the final five seconds of play.
Thursday marks the only time the two teams will play this season.
Tech players continue to light up the stat books this season as the Golden Eagles boast the No. 2 scoring duo in NCAA Division I and the No. 4 individual scorer in senior guard Kevin Murphy.
Murphy and junior guard Jud Dillard are combining to score 40.1 points per contest and trail only Weber State's duo of Damian Lillard and Scott Bamforth, who average 41.2 per game. Murphy is scoring 21.8 points per outing and has scored 50 points, 34 points and 33 points in games since Jan. 26.
Dillard ranks third in the OVC in scoring at 18.3 points per contest and first in rebounding at 8.6 boards per game. Zac Swansey leads the OVC and ranks in the top 20 in the nation in both assists (6.0 per game) and steals (2.4).
Eastern Illinois is led by Jeremy Granger, who is averaging 15.3 points per contest and ranks sixth in the OVC in scoring. Also scoring in double-figures for the Panthers is Alfonzo McKinnie (10.8 ppg) and Joey Miller (10.1 ppg). McKinnie also leads EIU and ranks fourth in the conference in rebounding, pulling down 7.3 boards per game.
EIU has lost eight consecutive games after starting the season 6-2 in non-conference play. The Panthers' last two losses, against Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky, have come by a combined five points, however.
Tickets for Thursday's game can be purchased at the Eblen Center box office, via telephone at (931) 372-3940 or on the web at www.TTUSports.com.
The game will be broadcast on the Golden Eagle Sports Network, WHUB AM 1400 and on the Internet at www.1400TheHub.com. Fans can also watch a live webstream on OVCSports.tv or listen via Teamline by calling (216) 502-3200 and entering team code 0654. Cost is $5 per call.