Golden Eagles square off against Eastern Illinois in Land of Lincoln

Golden Eagles square off against Eastern Illinois in Land of Lincoln

CHARLESTON, Ill. – While revenge would certainly be an understandable weapon for the Golden Eagles to wield coming into this year’s match-up against the Panthers of Eastern Illinois, Tech is more likely to use a much different approach.

On the heels of a five-game slide, including three in conference play, the Golden Eagles will look to simply grab a much-needed, momemtum-sparking victory. On the flip side, the EIU Panthers are looking for the same thing, a season-changing win to end a nine-game losing streak, also including three conference games. Eastern Illinois has lost five consecutive OVC contests dating back to Feb. 15, 2012.

The Golden Eagles and Panthers have not met every season in this 31-year long series, although, they have met 33 times, with the men of Cookeville owning a 20-13 advantage. In the last 10 episodes in this program of Ohio Valley Conference showings, Tech has defeated EIU seven times.

Year Location Result Score
2006-07 @ Charleston, Ill. W 76-64
2007-08 @ Charleston, Ill. W 72-53
2007-08 Cookeville, Tenn. W 74-57
2008-09 Cookeville, Tenn. W 67-60
2008-09 @ Charleston, Ill. L 75-58
2009-10 @ Charleston, Ill. L - OT 97-93
2009-10 Cookeville, Tenn. W 75-65
2010-11 Cookeville, Tenn. W 65-64
2010-11 @ Charleston, Ill. W 77-74
2011-12 Cookeville, Tenn. L 74-57

In the first meeting, in 1981-82, the Golden Eagles pulled off a nail-biter, winning the game 68-67 in the Evansville Holiday Tournament in Indiana. Three meetings in the series have seen extra time, with the Panthers owning a 2-1 record in overtime.

The Golden Eagles also own an 8-7 lead over Eastern Illinois in Lantz Arena, the home court of the Panthers. In two OVC tournament meetings, Tech is 2-0, although both victories have been achieved by a combined six points. TTU owns the series’ longest winning streak, taking five straight from 2003-04 to 2005-06.

The series has been primarily controlled by the men of Tennessee Tech, however, in the most recent installment the Panthers rolled into Cookeville and handed the Golden Eagles one of their most lopsided losses in the series. The 17-point defeat was one of just three home conference losses by the Golden Eagles.

Tech struggled to score against EIU, shooting just 32.7 percent in the contest. Former TTU guard Kevin Murphy scored 14 points on just 4-of-18 shooting. Current Golden Eagle Jud Dillard faired slightly better, shooting 50 percent from the field while scoring 13 points. He also brought in nine rebounds to lead the team.

The Panthers shot an impressive 48.1 percent in the contest, with James Hollowell, Jeremy Granger, and Joey Miller leading the charge with 17, 14, and 10 points, respectively. Three other Panthers added eight points each, leading to a 74-point performance.

Eastern Illinois has struggled to score this season, averaging just 55.8 points per game. They have also had trouble rebounding the ball, grabbing just 27.4 boards per contest. The team also ranks last in the OVC in free throw percentage with a .614 mark.

Tech, however, will arrive in Charleston, Ill. scoring 64.8 points per game and rebounding 33.4 balls per contest. They own a nine-point advantage in scoring over EIU, as well as a six-rebound lead. The Golden Eagles will look to end a five-game streak of shooting under 40 percent.

Leading Eastern Illinois into battle is sophomore forward Josh Piper. The Champaign native averages 10.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He also leads the team with 11 blocks. A junior forward from Philadelphia, Pa., Sherman Blanford puts up 9.3 points per contest and leads the Panthers with 5.3 boards a game.

Also helping the EIU effort will be freshman guard Alex Austin out of Chicago. He chips in 9.2 points per game. Austin Akers, a senior guard from Brazil, Ind., has dished out 61 assists and produced 21 steals this season.

The Golden Eagles will rely on preseason all-OVC selection Jud Dillard to keep his career-year going when they take on the Panthers. His 18.2 points per game not only leads Tennessee Tech, it also ranks second in the conference among all scorers. His 7.6 rebounds per contest ranks among the top 10 in the OVC and leads the Golden Eagles. He has posted five double-doubles this season alone.

A transfer out of Southern Methodist, Jeremiah Samarrippas has heated up in conference play, averaging 14.0 points and 3.7 assists while shooting a scorching 51.5 percent from the field. The junior guard is also adding a strong defensive effort, recording over two steals per OVC contest. He remains the only Golden Eagle to start every contest this season.

Redshirt freshman Lanerryl Johnson, who earned his second OVC Freshman of the Week honors on Monday, is averaging 9.0 points per contest against OVC opponents. He earned his first career start on Saturday against Belmont.

Fans can tune in to 106.1 The Eagle to listen to live coverage of Tech's contest against the Panther on Thursday. Radio coverage will begin 15 minutes prior to the 7:00 p.m. CST tip-off time. Fans can also view the live game feed on the OVC Digital Network, the Ohio Valley Conference's live webstream for free here.

To read more about the upcoming game and Tennessee Tech basketball, take a look at the game notes for the match-up against Eastern Illinois here.