Golden Eagles' top defense plays host to Redhawks' top offense in league battle
By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It's time to buck the trend. Heading into its Saturday night Ohio Valley Conference contest against Southeast Missouri, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will look to grab its third consecutive win, a feat yet to be accomplished by this year's squad.
In fact, the Golden Eagles have experienced a very see-saw-like season, having been unable to run more than two wins OR losses in a row. After taking each of its past two OVC games at home, Tech will go for one more when the Redhawks come to town.
This game is simply another meeting between an unstoppable force and an immoveable object as the OVC's top scoring defense faces off against the top scoring offense. Tech is allowing just 69.2 points per game while Southeast Missouri is scoring 83.9 points per contest. And the Golden Eagles are taking it a step further against the league, holding opponents to 62.2 points.
Tennessee Tech (10-9, 3-1) vs. Southeast Missouri (9-8, 1-3)
Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014
7 p.m. CT
Eblen Center (9,280) - Cookeville, Tenn.
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: Golden Eagle Sports Network on the OVC Digital Network (Roger Ealey)
SETTING THE STAGE
If there has ever been a need to find out which team the Golden Eagles play the best against when in the Eblen Center, look no further. In 24 meetings in Cookeville, Tech has owned Southeast Missouri to a tune of 20 wins and just four losses.
The Golden Eagles will open their wings to the Redhawks in hopes of keeping its home court tradition alive. In addition to Tech's success against SEMO in Cookeville, the Golden Eagles have been just that good against everyone this year, jumping to a 7-1 record at home.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Four different members of the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team put up double digit numbers in the scoring column Saturday night, but the effort proved to fall just short as the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri took down the Golden Eagles 74-62 in OVC action.
Tech suffered through a tough shooting half in the first 20 minutes, converting just 25 percent of its attempts. TTU stepped out to a three-point advantage early in the first half, but the team's shooting struggles led to an eight-point run by the Redhawks. SEMO would not relinquish the lead the rest of the evening.
After walking into halftime down by 13, the Golden Eagles came ready to play in the second half, actually outscoring Southeast Missouri 39-38. The team shot a much improved 39.5 percent in the final 20 minute stretch, knocking the Redhawk lead down to as low as six with 9:11 to play.
Starting at the 12:30 mark in the second half, Tech put together a nifty little 9-0 run to knock the SEMO lead to six. After an offensive rebound by freshman forward Anthony Morse, junior forward Dennis Ogbe started the scoring streak for the Golden Eagles with a put-back layup. TTU forced a turnover and senior guard Jud Dillard knocked down a 3-pointer to decrease the lead to 10.
Following a missed jumper by Dillard, Morse reduced the advantage to eight with an acrobatic put-back tip-in over Tyler Stone. The Redhawks turned over the ball and Morse picked up another offensive board before dishing it to Dillard for quick jumper in the paint.
SEMO went on to hit 13 free throws down the stretch, adding a few highlight reel dunks and a dagger of a 3-pointer that pushed the lead back out to 14 with 5:35 to play.
Scoring just two points in the first half, Dillard came out firing on all cylinders after the break, scoring 14 second-half points to lead the Golden Eagles in scoring. A native of Munich, Germany, Ogbe wrapped up the night with 13 points and seven rebounds, including a impressive, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to finish the first half. Dillard also tallied seven boards on the evening.
Two more Golden Eagles recorded double-digits on the night, including point guards Lanerryl Johnson, a redshirt freshman out of Atlanta, Ga., and Jeremiah Samarrippas, a junior transfer from Southern Methodist. Both finished with 10 points apiece, with Samarrippas adding six assists despite struggling through an injury sustained in last week's game at SIU Edwardsville.
A freshman out of Lawrenceville, Ga., Morse put together a solid performance for Tech, recording five rebounds, including three on the offensive side of the glass. He also blocked two shots, which gives him 17 on the year, and scored four points as well.
Junior forward Matt Marseille scored nine points for the Golden Eagles, pacing the team in the first half. All nine of his points cam consecutively as the Brooklyn, N.Y. native strung the streak from the 18:19 mark to the 11:56 mark.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Senior Dennis Ogbe leads the Tech squad in scoring, averaging 10.3 point per contest. He also ranks the highest for Tech in rebounds, pulling down 6.3 per game.
Junior Dwan Caldwell has played a key role as the big man in the paint for the Golden Eagles. He is averaging 9.4 points per game while grabbing 5.4 boards per contest. He also blocks 1.0 shots per game.
Point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas is the lead dog in assists for the Golden Eagles, averaging just under four per game while also leading the way with 32 steals. He tacks on 9.1 points per game as well. In OVC play, he is shooting an impressive 44 percent from beyond the arc.
Ladon Carter provides great depth off the bench for Tech, ranking second in the OVC in field goal percentage with a .663 mark while scoring 7.5 points per game and pulling down 5.2 rebounds.
Redshirt sophomore Josiah Moore put together a fantastic effort at Tennessee State, leading the Golden Eagles with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He added six at Belmont and 10 more against Eastern Illinois and now averages 7.5 points per game. His .349 mark from the 3-point line ranks him third on the Tech squad and second among players with at least 20 attempts.
JUCO transfer Jordan Johnson collected his fourth consecutive start of the season against SIUE. In four OVC games he is shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range.