By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team picked up its first victory in the John Pelphrey era Saturday evening, scoring an 83-70 victory over Martin Methodist in the team's home-opener in the Hooper Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles came out firing on all cylinders and building a 17-0 lead in the first five minutes of the contest. Tech was 8-for-10 from the floor in during the opening run, finally conceding its first points at home this season with 14:37 to play in the first half.
The RedHawks, proved to have plenty of fight in them, closing the gap to 12 points by halftime. Tech kicked off the second stanza in much of the same way as the first, notching an 11-2 run to extend its lead to a game-high 23 points.
Tech was efficient from the field, shooting 49.2 percent while hitting 52.9 percent of its tries from downtown, not to mention 83.3 percent of its attempts at the charity stripe. The purple and gold tallied 21 assists while winning the rebound battle, 42-32.
A pair of newcomers paced the efforts of the Golden Eagles in their first regular season action in front of their home fans as both Keishawn Davidson and Amadou Sylla each gathered their first career double-doubles. Sylla, who was named the Special Olympics Player of the Game, converted eight of his 11 shots from the floor on the way to a game-high 20 points. He also hauled in a game-best 14 rebounds.
Davidson was an artist with the ball, dishing out a whopping 10 assists while scoring 11 points and grabbing five boards as well on his way to first double-double by a freshman in his home debut since Earl Wise had 27 points and 10 rebounds against Bethel College on Nov. 29, 1986.
Three more Golden Eagles finished in double figures on the night, with sophomore Hunter Vick lighting up the scoreboard for 16 on highly efficient shooting. Draining 4-of-5 tries from 3-point range, he also snagged four boards. Senior Darius Allen chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds while sophomore Jr. Clay performed to the tune of 13 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Pelphrey, who was named the 13th head coach in Golden Eagle history in April, also earned career win No. 150 on the night, the same day the Tech football team earned its 150th victory in Tucker Stadium on the day they celebrated the 150th anniversary of college football.
The Golden Eagles will return to action in the Eblen Center on Tuesday, Nov. 12, hosting Wright State as part of a doubleheader with the Tech women's team. The men are slated to tip at 7:30 p.m. CT, or approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women's game, which starts at 5:30 p.m., against ULM.
"The first win is always important," Pelphrey said. "It's the first one and it took us two games to get this one. We talked about it yesterday, that it wasn't going to be easy. And it wasn't. We had some really good moments in the game, but they came right back at us and you can never discount the amount of pride on the other bench. If you do take that for granted, you're making a mistake. I think we clearly understand who we are. It's good to get the first win and we're excited to have a chance to play in this arena. All of us, the players included, recognize how special it is to be here in Cookeville and be at Tennessee Tech."
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