By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech men's basketball fans will finally get to see the John Pelphrey era in full effect in the comfort of the Hooper Eblen Center Saturday evening, as the Golden Eagles host Martin Methodist in the team's home-opener for 2019-20.
The purple and gold will welcome in the RedHawks for the first time in program history, matching up with a 4-1 Martin Methodist squad located in Pulaski, Tenn. at 7:00 p.m. CT. The basketball game will follow the Tech football team's Homecoming contest against Ohio Valley Conference foe Jacksonville State at 1:30 p.m. at Tucker Stadium.
The RedHawks earned wins over Fisk (70-66), Rust College (86-63, overtime), Brescia (81-68) and Freed-Hardeman (79-76) to start the year. The team's one official loss came to Lindsey Wilson College (77-59) on Nov. 2.
The NAIA program played an exhibition affair with Murray State on Nov. 4, suffering a 105-64 loss at the hand of Tech's OVC rival. Felix Hayes paces the RedHawks offense, averaging 15.2 points per game. Darrin Jenkins (11.8 ppg), Shondell Jackson (11.6 ppg) and Antares Gwyn join him in double figures while Gwyn leads the team with 9.4 rebounds per game.
The Golden Eagles enter the contest 0-1 on the young season, falling in the season-opener at Western Kentucky, 76-64. Trailing by as many as 21 with just over 16 minutes to play, Tech clawed its way back to within nine before running out of time.
True freshman point guard Keishawn Davidson, who starred for Tech in its exhibition contest against Bryan College, again led his team on the offensive end of the floor, accounting for a team-high 18 points and six assists. The rookie made zero turnovers while playing a team-high 33 minutes.
The 18 points represented the most by a Tech freshman in his collegiate debut since Earl Wise dropped 27 against Bethel College on Nov. 29, 1986. It marked the most by a freshman in his debut again a Division I opponent since Anthony Avery scored 21 points against Louisiana (Nov. 30, 1985). It also stands as the most points by a freshman in his first Division I road contest since Paul Chadwell also had 18 at New Orleans (Nov. 24, 1978). Mark Burnett owns the program record for freshman points in his first Division I road competition, an impressive 20 in Tuscaloosa against No. 15 Alabama on Dec. 5, 1977.
Davidson's six assists and zero turnovers matched the program's freshman record for number of assists (as well as fewest turnovers) in his collegiate debut set by Lanerryl Johnson on Nov. 10, 2012 against Crowley's Ridge. It does represent the mark for a freshman against both a Division I opponent and road contest as well.
Sophomore forward Amadou Sylla sank six of his seven shots in his debut with the Golden Eagles, totaling 13 points and four rebounds. Fellow sophomore Hunter Vick also accounted for double digits on the scoreboard, contributing 11 points and five rebounds. Darius Allen led Tech with six boards.
Jr. Clay posted seven points, three boards, two steals and two assists while Allen chipped in five points. Freshman Tujautae Williams (pictured) scored four points with a steal and two assists while redshirt freshman Reece Wilkinson scored four as well.
Season tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office, or log on to TTUSports.com to order yours today.
Photo by Thomas Corhern