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Golden Eagles return to the road for OVC battle at Murray State

TIME CHANGE: Game at Murray State moved up to 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

Gameday Central

MURRAY, Ky. – It's back to the road for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team this weekend as the Golden Eagles get prepped for a huge Ohio Valley Conference battle at Murray State on Thursday afternoon.

 --- NOTE: The starting time for the game at Murray State has been moved up to 3 p.m. CT ---

The Golden Eagles come into the game losing its first contest in three games, an 83-74 home loss to Southeast Missouri. The Racers also enter Thursday's match-up on the heels of a loss, dropping their first OVC contest of the year at SIUE on Saturday.

Head coach Steve Payne's squad will look to keep its defensive prowess as it's been all season long, ranking third in the league in scoring defense while allowing just 69.9 points per game. Both Tech and Murray State average 72.8 points on offense.

Tennessee Tech (10-10, 3-2) at Murray State (10-8, 5-1)
Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014
3 p.m. CT
CFSB Center (8,600) - Murray, Ky.

The Broadcasts
TV: none
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Dylan Vazzano)
Webcast: OVC Digital Network

SETTING THE STAGE
One of the longest standing rivalries in Tennessee Tech history, the series against Murray State will see its 177th meeting and 82nd in Murray, Ky.

The Racers have won each of the past four contests against the Golden Eagles, just edging the Tech squad last season by eight points on ESPN3.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Tennessee Tech simply couldn't overcome 25 percent shooting, and despite putting up a valiant fight, left Eblen Center on the short end of a 47-39 Ohio Valley Conference contest with Murray State.

The Racers (15-4/6-1 OVC) didn't shoot much better, hitting 34 percent from the field and just 1-for-18 from long range.  But a late 16-2 run lifted MSU into a lead they nursed to the finish.

Tech (7-12/1-6 OVC) forced 23 MSU turnovers with 12 steals, but wound up hitting just 3-for-17 from long range (17.6 percent) and 25.5 percent (13-for-51) for the game.

Jud Dillard topped Tech with 12 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Dennis Ogbe (in photo) chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds. Matt Marseille grabbed  team-high seven boards while finished with five rebounds and five steals, despite being saddled with four fouls. Ammanuel Diressa fouled out with six points, hitting 2-for-3 from long distance.

On a night when the Golden Eagles needed a solid showing, they didn't help their own cause in the first few minutes by missing their first six shots as the Racers quietly crept out to an 8-0 lead.

Tech fought its way back into the game, however, and when Ogbe slashed through the lane, took a pass from Lanerryl Johnson and made a floater, the Golden Eagles had erased the deficit and tied the contest at 13-13.

And a minute later, when Ogbe scored on a putback, the home team had its first lead of the night at 17-15.  Two minutes later, Ogbe jumped over a defender for a slam dunk, and Tech was up 20-17.

From that point on, things were tight..until MSU took control in the final minutes.

Tech's 32-27 lead was erased midway in the second half as the Racers went on a 16-2 run. During the 10-minute stretch, Tech had five turnovers and made just one of 12 shots. Wilson and Daniel each had four in the run.

When Dillard knocked dow a 3-pointer with 4:07 remaining, the Golden Eagles faced a 43-37 deficit.

Tech forced four missed shots and two turnovers on Murray State's next six possessions, but the Golden Eagles couldn't capitalize. Tech missed a couple of shots and had another turnover before Dillards' two free throws with 1:17 left made it a 43-49 contest.

The Racers connected on four of the next five free throws to clinch the win.

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 9.2 points per game while grabbing 5.3 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 37 steals. He tacks on 9.2 points per game as well. In OVC play, he is shooting an impressive 40.6 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 .646 mark while scoring 7.7 points per game and pulling down 5.3 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 7.6 points per game.

JUCO transfer Jordan Johnson collected his fifth consecutive start of the season against SEMO. In five OVC games he is shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range.