By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Part two of Tennessee Tech's 2017-18 season starts this coming Thursday with its first Ohio Valley Conference game of the year.
Tech hosts Morehead State at 5:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, Dec. 28 and plays its next game against Eastern Kentucky, also in Cookeville, on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 3 p.m. CT.
After playing what was the 36th-hardest schedule in the country (the NCAA RPI has not been updated since its latest release on Dec. 17, thus Tech's last few non-conference games are not yet included), Tech (3-8) enters a new part of its season with the beginning of OVC play. When considering just OVC teams, only Southeast Missouri State has played a harder schedule than Tech, which will likely give the Golden Eagles a leg up during the rest of the season.
"There's still a lot of basketball left to be played, and when we come back here Dec. 28th, it's 0-0," said head coach Kim Rosamond on Dec. 21 after Tech's game versus Lipscomb. "It starts all over for us."
Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky are two of the OVC opponents Tech has faced most over the years – only Austin Peay has squared off with the Golden Eagles more (96 all-time games, compared with 84 against Morehead State and 92 against Eastern Kentucky).
Tech holds the series advantage over both programs but is looking to get some wins back. The Golden Eagles were swept by Morehead State 79-65 and 81-52 in the 2016-17 season. They are 59-25 against the Eagles.
Tech and Eastern Kentucky split their two meetings last season, with Tech edging out the Colonels 53-51 on Jan. 28 and EKU taking the second game in Kentucky 78-65. Tech leads 66-26 in the all-time series.
- Upper Cumberland Night – All fans with an Upper Cumberland address on their identification will receive $1 admission.
- 2016-17 record: 21-10, 11-5 Ohio Valley Conference (finished 2nd in the regular season; lost to 7-seed Eastern Kentucky 73-67 in the tournament first round)
- Notables: Morehead State did not play its first road game until it traveled to Kentucky on Nov. 22 (Tech had already played two road games by that date)… Junior transfer Tierra McGowan has received OVC Newcomer of the Week four times already this season, including the last three consecutive weeks. McGowan is the second-best scorer on the team, averaging 14.4 points, and also averages double-digit rebounds (12.5). She leads the conference in rebounding – the next closest player is Jacksonville State's Rayven Pearson, who averages two full rebounds less. McGowan was named the NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Player of the Year last season at Rock Valley and helped the Golden Eagles to their fourth national championship in school history.
- 2016-17 record: 12-20, 7-9 Ohio Valley Conference (tied for 6th in the regular season; lost to top-seeded Belmont 94-64 in the tournament championship)
- Notables: EKU head coach Chrissy Roberts was on the Tech coaching staff as an assistant for the 1999-2000 season. The Golden Eagles won the OVC regular-season championship and OVC tournament and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament that year… Redshirt junior transfer A'Queen Hayes, who sat out last season after transferring from Ole Miss, is second in the conference in minutes played with an average of 34.6 per game. She also ranks in the top 10 in the OVC in five other statistical categories: rebounds (ninth with 7.1 per game), assists (ninth with 3.7 per game), steals (10th with 1.6 per game), assist/turnover ratio (seventh at 1.3) and offensive rebounds (third with 3.6 per game – half of her rebounds are offensive).