By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – A furious, second-half comeback bid wasn't enough for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Saturday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell on the road in Ohio Valley Conference play to Jacksonville State, 65-48.
Tech (6-13, 2-4) found it tough to keep up with Jacksonville State's (14-5, 6-0) hot offense in the first half, despite forcing 10 Gamecock turnovers. JSU shot over 60 percent from the field over the opening 20 minutes, taking a 34-21 lead into the locker room.
The Gamecocks then opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take their largest lead of the contest, a 20-point advantage that prompted Tech head coach Steve Payne to call timeout.
The move seemed to work, as the Golden Eagles calmed down and began to chip away at the Gamecock lead. Tech took its own turn in heating things up and putting some pressure on its opponent, snagging a 9-0 run capped by a Corey Tillery 3-pointer with 14:33 to play.
Jax State kicked the lead back up to 15 with just over 13 minutes left in the ball game, but Tech remained tenacious on defense and kept on chopping away. A huge triple off the hands of Hunter Vick brought the Golden Eagles to within six points with just 6:20 to go.
JSU showed why it was 5-0 in the league so far this season, however, quickly forcing three turnovers and turning them into points to jump back out by double figures. The Gamecocks would go on to ice the game away down the stretch as the Tech offense hit a cold spell late from the floor.
In the contest, Tech was held to 31.4 percent shooting and saw the Gamecocks earn a 41-29 advantage on the glass. The Golden Eagles did manage to limit Jax State to 36.4 percent shooting in the second half, but 19 turnovers in the contest were enough to keep JSU ahead for good.
Junior big man Micaiah Henry led the Golden Eagles with 11 points on the night, despite fighting through foul trouble much of the evening. Jr. Clay played 30 minutes off the bench, his first action for Tech since his injury against SIUE nearly two weeks ago. He finished with nine points and three assists.
Jason Burnell led the Gamecocks with 14 points and 14 rebounds while Ty Hudson added 14 points.
Tech will continue its road stretch with a trip to "Death Valley" next week, making rounds against Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky. The Golden Eagles will visit the Eagles on Thursday, Jan. 24 in a 6:35 p.m. CT tilt. The purple and gold will then face Eastern Kentucky on a neutral floor on Saturday, Jan. 26, playing at Georgetown (Ky.) College in a 6:00 p.m. match-up.
Photo by Tony Marable