By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Rebounding and turnovers were the key factors in the final outcome of Tuesday night's contest, as the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team fell on the road to Savannah State, 97-83.
The Golden Eagles (0-3) saw a six-point halftime deficit inflate to as much as 20 in the second half as the Tigers (2-2) used a combination of offensive rebounding, clutch 3-point shooting and a decisive advantage in free throw attempts to deal the damage.
Savannah State out-rebounded Tech 57-36 on the night, dominating the offensive glass to the tune of 24-11. And while the Golden Eagles were forced into 23 turnovers, they also forced 23 turnovers on the night, including 15 in the second half as the team clawed and fought until the clock struck zero.
"At the end of the day, you have to pass and catch, you have to box out and you have to go rebound the ball no matter what kind of pressure or style the other team uses," said Tech head coach Steve Payne. "And if you don't, you're not going to be successful."
In the contest, Tech had a tough time drawing a foul call, finishing the contest with just nine attempts at the charity stripe, despite averaging 27.0 per game entering the night. On the other side, the Tigers took 27 tries from the free-throw line, including 22 in the second half. Overall, Savannah State made 20-of-27 attempts while the Golden Eagles were 6-of-9 on freebies.
"There's a good team in that locker room," Payne said of his team. "The free-throw disparity was unbelievable considering they pressed for 40 minutes. But that's part of it. You expect those things when you go on the road. I felt we played better tonight than we did Saturday night."
Putting together a breakout performance was redshirt freshman Hunter Vick, who led the Golden Eagles with 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting. He also added six assists in the contest while draining three triples.
Vick became the first Tech freshman with at least 20 points in a contest since Chase Dunn scored 21 against Bluefield College on Jan. 2, 2011. His 22 points marked the most by a Golden Eagle rookie since Jud Dillard dropped 24 at Tennessee State on Feb. 15, 2010.
Micaiah Henry dominated early in the game, finishing the first half with 17 points. He rounded out the contest with his second career 20-point outing, tallying 21 on a highly efficient 10-of-13 night. He snagged seven rebounds and blocked three shots as well.
For the second straight game, senior Courtney Alexander II posted a double-double, wrapping up the night with 12 points and 13 rebounds. He flirted with a triple-double, leading the Golden Eagles with seven assists in 35 minutes.
Tech will continue its three-game road trip Friday evening, taking on No. 7 ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill in a 6 p.m. CT affair at the Dean E. Smith Center.
Photo by Tony Marable