By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball puts a close to 2019 and its non-conference slate Sunday afternoon, making a trip south to Oxford, Miss. for a 3:00 p.m. CT tilt with Ole Miss.
Tennessee Tech (3-9) at Ole Miss (8-3)
Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019
3:00 p.m. CT
The Pavilion at Ole Miss (9,500) – Oxford, Miss.
Sunday marks the eighth meeting all-time between the two programs, with Ole Miss owning a 6-1 lead in the series.
When competing in Oxford, the Rebels hold a 4-0 advantage over the Golden Eagles all time. The two teams each possess a victory at neutral locations as well.
Both of the neutral site victories occurred in Johnson City, Tenn. in the Watauga Tournament. Ole Miss won the first meeting in 1959 while Tech earned its only win against the Rebels in the 1962 tilt, 81-71.
This marks the first meeting between the two programs since Nov. 22, 2006, an 86-77 decision in favor of Ole Miss in Oxford.
In the contest, Belton Rivers paced the purple and gold with 24 points while adding seven rebounds. Anthony Fisher finished next with 19 points, nine boards, four assists, two blocks and two steals. Amadi McKenzie rounded out Tech's double-figure scorers with a 17-point and 12-rebound double-double.
Ole Miss' Bam Doyne led all scorers with 25 points on the strength of 11-for-15 shooting from the charity stripe. Clarence Sanders and Jeremy Parnell each chipped in 14 points as well for the Rebels.
This year's Ole Miss squad is led offensively by Breein Tyree, who averages 17.8 points per game on an effective 40.4 percent shooting from the field. Ha adds 4.1 rebounds per contest while hitting 76.8 percent from the free throw line.
Blake Hinson adds 13.0 points and 4.1 boards per game while firing at a 44.4 percent clip from 3-point range. Also in double figures for the Rebels is KJ Buffen, averaging 10.0 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds.
Leading the team in assists with 4.3 per game, not to mention 9.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest, is Devontae Shuler.
A terrific offensive display was too much for the Tech squad last Saturday, as the Golden Eagles dropped a fast-paced show in the Eblen Center to the visiting Catamounts of Western Carolina, 89-76.
On the night, WCU shot 60.4 percent from the floor and 51.9 percent from 3-point range to outgun the Golden Eagles. Tech finished the night 42.9 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from downtown, relying on the defense's 22 forced turnovers to outscore the visitors in the second half, 44-43.
The offense was relatively distributed throughout the night for the Golden Eagles, with six players scoring at least seven points. Sophomore guard Jr. Clay continued his hot run over the past five games, scoring a game-high 17 points with five assists, five steals and three rebounds.
Junior forward Larry Kuimi enjoyed a strong night on offense, sinking 6-of-8 attempts from the floor for a season-high 14 points. He also had a block and three rebounds. Scoring 11 points with a pair of steals was freshman guard Keishawn Davidson, who rounded out the double-digit scorers for Tech.
Freshman forward Tujautae Williams contributed nine points with a 5-for-6 showing from the free throw line and four assists. Close behind, senior guard Darius Allen posted eight points and sophomore guard Hunter Vick scored seven.
Prior to the contest at Lipscomb, Coach Pelphrey and his staff named the team's fifth captain in freshman point guard Keishawn Davidson. Also serving as captains for the young Tech squad in 2019-20 are sophomores Jr. Clay, Hunter Vick and Amadou Sylla, as well as senior Cade Crosland.
With an 83-70 win over Martin Methodist on November 9, Tech head coach John
Pelphrey earned his first victory as the leader of the Golden Eagle program.
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.
Both Davidson and Sylla were honored by the OVC on Nov. 11, picking up two of the league's first three weekly honors of the 2019-20 campaign. Davidson was named OVC Freshman of the Week while Sylla was recognized as the OVC Newcomer of the Week.
It marked the first time since 2015-16 that Tech claimed two of the OVC's three weekly accolades.
The last time it occurred was Feb. 1, 2016 when Torrance Rowe won OVC Player of the Week and both Ryan Martin and Hakeem Rogers shared OVC Newcomer of the Week honors.
Tech was predicted to finish 12th overall in the 2019 OVC race in voting by the league's head coaches and SIDs.
The 2019-20 Tech roster features 17 players (13 scholarship student-athletes) representing five states and three countries.
Nine Golden Eagle players hail from the state Tennessee, while Florida and Texas each boast two Tech players. Alabama and Illinois are represented by one Tech player each.
Two international players round out the roster, including one Golden Eagle from Canada and another from Mali.
Tech has three seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, three redshirt freshmen and three true freshmen.
Eleven Golden Eagles stand 6-foot-5 or taller while the other six measure in at 6-foot-4 or shorter.
While the 2019-20 Golden Eagles welcomed in seven new faces to the roster this season, that number doesn't show just how little this team spent together coming into the season. In addition to a brand new coaching staff, 10 of Tech's 17 players had never suited up for the Golden Eagles heading into the season-opener.
Tech players that have or could make their Golden Eagle debut in 2019-20 are senior transfer Darius Allen, JUCO transfers Larry Kuimi, Amadou Sylla and Michael Lolio, true freshmen Keishawn Davidson, Dane Quest and Tujautae Williams, and redshirt freshmen Chase Ridenour, Caden Mills and Reece Wilkinson.
The 2019-20 Tech roster came into the year with just 58 combined starts at the Division I level, inlcuding 31 by Hunter Vick, 19 by Jr. Clay, four by Garrett Golday, three by Jared Sherfield and one by Darius Allen (at Baylor).
Photo by Thomas Corhern