By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – There's no time to dwell on the past for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team as the Golden Eagles head into a crucial Ohio Valley Conference battle with longtime, in-state rival at Austin Peay Saturday night.
Both teams enter the contest after suffering league losses Thursday. Tech fell to Murray State on the road while the Governors dropped a home contest to Jacksonville State. Despite the losses, both teams will focus solely on what is at hand and try to gain some much-needed momentum as the thick of the OVC race begins to unfold.
Tennessee Tech (10-11, 3-3) at Austin Peay (8-12, 2-4)
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014
7 p.m. CT
Dunn Center (7,875) – Clarksville, Tenn.
TV: Comcast Sports Southeast (Eric Foister & Bob Belvin)
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
SETTING THE STAGE
Arguably the most competitive and entertaining rivalries in Tech history, the series with Austin Peay has seen its fair share of highlight moments. Although it dates back to 1941, this rivalry really began its intensity with the addition of the Governors to the OVC in the 1963-64 season.
Both schools have made runs in the series at times, but overall, this has been one of the most even match-ups in program history.
The Golden Eagles own a slight 69-67 advantage all-time and have won six of the past seven contests, including each of the past five. Austin Peay usually comes out on top at home, leading 31-23 all-time in Clarksville, but the Governors have lost the last three contests in the Dunn Center dating back to 2010.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
Senior Jud Dillard was the brightest star on a night when Tennessee Tech had several standout performances on the way to claiming a convincing 70-52 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Austin Peay Saturday night in Eblen Center.
Dillard recorded his seventh double-double of the season, posting game-high numbers with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He flirted with a triple-double as he also contributed a team-best eight assists along with two steals.
Tech improved to 8-12 overall and 2-6 in OVC play, and also took a one-game edge in the long-running series with the Governors, 69-68. It was also Tech's fifth consecutive win over Austin Peay. The Govs slipped to 5-17 overall and 1-7 in the OVC West Division.
Joining Dillard in producing winning numbers, Freshman Anthony Morse scored a career-high 10 points and added six rebounds, and junior Dennis Ogbe added 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Golden Eagles came out in unison to open the contest, charging to a 13-2 lead in the first three minutes. Morse notched the first two baskets, and added a dunk shortly after Jeremiah Samarrippas hit a 3-pointer.
The Govs rallied briefly behind a jumper from Will Triggs and a 3-pointer by Travis Betran, pulling the visitors to within six at 13-7, but that was as close as Tech allowed APSU in the 0pening 20 minutes.
A balanced effort over the next seven minutes saw Tech open the lead to 13 points, where it stood until Cory Arentsen's 3-pointer made it 33-21 with 4:11 remaining in the half.
The Golden Eagles scored the next seven points, and closed the half on an 11-2 run to head to the break with a 44-23 lead.
Austin Peay challenged one time in the second half, going on a 10-0 run to cut Tech's lead from 24 points down to 14. Triggs scored six of the 10 in the run.
Tech answered with an 11-2 run of its own, including eight from Dillard, to build the difference back to 23 points at 62-39, with 7:46 to play.
After shooting 58 percent in the first half, Tech finished the night hitting 49.1 percent (27-for-55) from the field and claiming a 36-27 edge in rebounds. The Govs hit 40.4 percent (19-for-47).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Senior Dennis Ogbe leads the Tech squad in scoring, averaging 9.9 point per contest. He also ranks the highest for Tech in rebounds, pulling down 6.1 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 5.2 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 9.3 points per game as well. In OVC play, he is shooting an impressive 43.2 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 .644 mark while scoring 7.7 points per game and pulling down 5.5 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 sixth consecutive start of the season against SEMO. In six OVC games he is shooting 36.0 percent from 3-point range.