By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Defense was the key for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Saturday evening, as the Golden Eagles (7-11, 3-0) held off Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State (8-9, 2-1) for a 71-67 victory in the Eblen Center.
Tech held the league's most potent offense to its lowest scoring output in conference play and lowest since Dec. 22, forcing 13 turnovers and holding the Racers to just 34.9 percent shooting from the field. The Golden Eagles used a savvy and impressive zone attack against a team with the green light from 3-point range. The outcome resulted in Murray State finishing just 25.8 percent from downtown.
On the other side of the ball, junior Mason Ramsey kicked off the contest on an absolute tear, producing 12 of the team's first 14 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor and a 3-for-3 showing at the charity stripe. The Livingston, Tenn. native kept his offensive attack ablaze, finishing the contest with a career-high 19 points in 28 minutes of action.
Behind Ramsey's career night, the Golden Eagles leapt out to a 15-point lead in the first half. Murray State roared back, hitting big shots to cut the Tech advantage to just a single point at the halftime break.
From that point on, it was a pure slobber knocker, with neither side taking a double-digit lead the entire way. Murray State quickly took over the top spot on the scoreboard, gathering a six-point advantage after a Jonathan Stark layup on a fast break.
Tech answered and never looked back, grabbing a 3-pointer from senior Kajon Mack to trim the Racer lead in half. The shot sparked an 18-5 run by the Golden Eagles, punctuated by two Mack free throws that gave the home squad a seven-point lead with just four and a half minutes to play.
With the win, Tech clinched back-to-back victories over Murray State for the first time in 10 years.
Ramsey led the way with his career performance of 19 points, hitting 7-of-12 shots from the floor. Not far behind, Mack was nearly perfect on the night, finishing 5-for-6 from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. He tallied six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block as well.
Rogers made several big shots on the night on his way to 16 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Junior Ja'Cardo Hawkins grabbed eight big rebounds and dished out three assists.
Tech will head back out on the road Tuesday evening, meeting up against Southeast Missouri in a 6:30 p.m. CT match-up, looking for its second straight 4-0 start to league play.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information