By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball cruised to a 106-48 victory over Boyce College Thursday evening, racking up huge numbers in the assists and steals departments.
"What we really look for in these games, is can we execute offensively and defensively," head coach Steve Payne said. "Can we do the things that Tennessee Tech does? We want to look like Tennessee Tech regardless of the score, regardless of the time in the game and regardless of who's in the game. We want to look like Tennessee Tech, and we got better at that tonight throughout the game. It was better than it was in the first and second games, and hopefully we'll continue to get better."
The Golden Eagles shared the ball on a whopping 82.9 percent of its field goals in the contest, tallying a Payne era-high 34 assists, the most by a Tech squad since 2008-09 and third highest total in school history. Tech also posted 17 steals on the night, the most in a single game since the 2006-07 season.
"We had 34 assists on 41 baskets – that's Tennessee Tech," Payne explained. "Being up the line defensively and pressuring the basketball, playing with an intense, aggressive toughness defensively – that's Tennessee Tech."
The Tech squad held the Bulldogs to just 29.9 percent shooting from the floor and 21.1 percent from three-point range. Boyce also finished 0-for-3 from the free throw line, the first time in over 15 years the Golden Eagles held their opponent without a made free throw.
The Golden Eagles were flying for a large chunk of the game, posting 33 fast break points and 32 points off turnovers. Tech also did work down low, scoring 60 points in the paint.
The home team's 58-point scoring margin tied for the seventh largest in program history and highest since setting the school record of 75 points against Crowley's Ridge during the 2012-13 campaign.
Six Golden Eagles scored in double figures in the contest, the most since a triple-overtime victory over UT Martin back in January, 2001. Graduate transfer guard Shaq Calhoun, the co-Special Olympics Player of the Game, led all scorers in the contest, dropping a season-high 20 points on a near-perfect 8-for-9 showing from the field. He added four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals as well.
Also a co-Special Olympics Player of the Game, junior forward Courtney Alexander II flirted hard with a triple-double, settling for his second career double-double thanks to 14 points (tied a career high) and career-highs of 12 rebounds and seven assists. He also made three steals while sinking all six of his attempts from the floor.
Senior Aleksa Jugovic scored 14 points and made three steals while hitting three triples to move into sixth place in program history for made 3-pointers. Senior forward Curtis Phillips Jr. scored 12 points – his third straight game in double figures – while narrowly missing out on a double-double. He tallied a career-high eight assists and snagged three steals as well.
Also in double figures for Tech were sophomores Micaiah Henry and Cade Crosland. Henry put up 10 points while hauling in a career-high seven rebounds. Crosland connected on 3-of-6 attempts from deep on his way to 11 points and chipped in five rebounds.
Graduate guard Kajon Mack tallied seven assists, along with six points, four rebounds and three steals, while playing just 21 minutes. Mason Ramsey notched six points and five boards in just 16 minutes of action.
All 10 Golden Eagles that saw the floor scored at least five points, hauled in at least one rebound and dished out at least one assist.
"It's hard to stay focused and mentally alert sometimes in these games, and I thought our guys did a very good job of that, with a little reminding," Payne added. "The goal is to play longer and longer stretches of efficient basketball, and we're doing that. It gets harder from here on out. Maybe not harder than TCU, but it will be harder than in the two wins we have. If we win Saturday, that will be our toughest win to date, and we need to play well and win that one."
Tech will return to action Saturday evening with a 6:00 p.m. CT tilt against Kennesaw State in the Eblen Center. The contest will follow the Golden Eagle football team's season finale against UT Martin, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. at Tucker Stadium.
"Our goal is not to lose at home in the Hooper Eblen Center this year," Payne said. "Throughout my time here, we've been very good in this building. Last year, we were not. We want to change that. We want to go back to being great in this building and the way we do that is with toughness and with a lot of support. We want everyone in this community to come out and have this place full at six o'clock Saturday night. We need our fans here and a great home court advantage for us to look like Tennessee Tech."
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information