By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A hot start to conference play is always an advantage for a college basketball program, especially when it comes on the road. The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team took advantage right off the bat Thursday night in its Ohio Valley Conference opener, defeating Tennessee State, 57-53, in Nashville.
A dogfight the whole way, the Golden Eagles were able to find fire from the 3-point line in the second half to eke out the four-point victory. Redshirt sophomore Josiah Moore paced the Tech offense, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting while also grabbing four rebounds. Big man Dwan Caldwell joined him in double-figures, collecting 10 points on the night.
The Tech defense proved stout in the affair, holding the OVC's leading scorer, Patrick Miller, to just 13 points, nearly eight below the guard's average. Kennedy Eubanks led all players with 15 points and finished with 10 rebounds for a double-double. M.J. Rhett also added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The first half was a complete slugfest as the two sides bullied their way for position while taking long possessions to try and wear down each respective defense. The score reflected the defensive struggle as TSU took just a three-point advantage into the half, leading 25-22.
The Golden Eagles looked to take control of things in the middle of the first 20, snapping together a 14-2 run while jumping to an 18-13 lead with just over 8:00 to play. But the Tigers responded with a little 10-0 run of their own, retaking the lead and keeping it for the remainder of the half.
Both teams came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, combining for four 3-pointers in the first four minutes. Tech went on to keep that hot streak going, connecting on a total of six treys in the final 20 minutes.
Senior guard Jeremiah Samarrippas finished the game with seven points and six assists, connecting on two 3-pointers while also helping on two more. Javon McKay added eight points to the scoring as well, dropping a career-high two treys.
Tech will have a quick turnaround for its next OVC contest as the Golden Eagles will return to Nashville on Saturday to face in-state foe Belmont in a 4 p.m. CT game.