Big first half not enough as Tennessee downs Golden Eagles, 84-63

Big first half not enough as Tennessee downs Golden Eagles, 84-63

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – It was a tale of two halves for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Saturday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles couldn't quite mimic their first-half success, eventually falling to the University of Tennessee, 84-63.

Tech came out firing on all cylinders in the first 20 minutes of the contest, matching the Vols possession for possession, even leading by as many as seven at one point. The Golden Eagles, who trailed by no more than three points in the first stanza, shot an unreal 8-for-11 from 3-point range while also turning the ball over just six times.

JUCO transfer Jordan Johnson was a force to be reckoned with in the first half, hitting on all four of his shot attempts from downtown and completing a three-point play the old-fashioned way to a tune of 15 points. He led all scorers at the break. Senior point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas was also hot in the early minutes of action, scoring eight of the team's first 13 points.

Behind the fantastic 3-point shooting and strong ball security, the Golden Eagles headed to the locker rooms at halftime trailing by just one point, 41-40.

The Volunteers then proved why they have been receiving votes for the top 25 all season long. Tennessee opened the second half on a 20-3 run, using strong defense and rebounding to take advantage of every opening it could.

That defense would hold both Samarrippas and Johnson scoreless over the second 20, and allowed the Golden Eagles to shoot just 38.5 percent from the field in that span.

Junior forward Jarnell Stokes was a strong adversary on the day, grabbing most of his game-high 19 points off of six offensive rebounds. He finished with 13 boards for another double-double. Jordan McRae added 16 points for the Vols and Josh Richardson and Jeronne Maymon finished with 13 points each.

JUCO transfer Ty Allen finished in double-digits again, joining Samarrippas and Johnson. He collected 14 points, including nine from behind the arc. Senior forward Dennis Ogbe just missed out on his own double-double, scoring nine points and leading the Golden Eagles with nine rebounds. Junior Dwan Caldwell added eight points and Samarrippas looked strong with five assists to just one turnover.

The Golden Eagles will take a week off before returning to the hardwood, not playing again until Sunday, Dec. 15. Tech will head southwest for a 2 p.m. CT contest against Lamar before heading north for a Dec. 17 tilt at Green Bay.