By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team concludes it's brief, two-game road trip to the west, squaring off against Southeast Missouri in Ohio Valley Conference play Saturday afternoon. Tip is set for a 4:00 p.m. CT start against the Redhawks in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Tennessee Tech (5-19, 2-9) at Southeast Missouri (5-19, 1-10)
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020
4:00 p.m. CT
Show Me Center (7,000) – Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Saturday marks the 52nd meeting all-time between the two programs, with Tech owning a 33-18 lead in the series.
When competing in Cape Girardeau, the Redhawks hold a 13-11 advantage over the Golden Eagles all time.
Last season, the Golden Eagles fell to SEMO in the Show Me Center in an overtime heartbreaker, 71-66.
Tech held a two-point lead with just 10 seconds to play, but the Redhawks tied things up with just two seconds on the clock to force overtime. SEMO then outscored the Golden Eagles, 13-8, in the extra period to take the win.
Jr. Clay led the Tech effort with 22 points and five assists while hitting a career-high 11 of his 12 free-throw attempts. Former Golden Eagle Courtney Alexander II dropped a career-high 20 points and snagged 13 rebounds for a double-double. Hunter Vick added 12 points as well.
SEMO's Gabe McGlothan erupted for 27 points and 16 boards to lead the Redhawks, finishing 10-of-14 from the field.
This year's Southeast Missouri squad is led offensively by Alex Caldwell, who averages 11.9 points per game. He also leads the Redhawks with 2.5 assists per game and 23 total steals on the year.
Both Sage Tolbert and DQ Nicholas fall next on SEMO's scoring charts, averaging 9.1 and 9.0 points per game, respectively.
Tolbert leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per game and 17 total blocks while shooting a team-high 53.5 percent from the floor.
Skylar Hogan ranks as the team's best shooter, firing at a 36.6 percent clip from beyond the 3-point line and 80.0 percent from the charity stripe. He averages 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.
Southeast Missouri enters the contest having claimed its first OVC victory of the season Thursday night. The Redhawks built a large lead and hung on late to oust the visiting Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
LAST TIME OUT
An early hole proved too costly and too big for the Tech basketball team to overcome Thursday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell on the road to in-state rival UT Martin in OVC action, 74-62.
The Skyhawks got off to a torrid start early in the contest, firing above 70 percent from the floor over the opening five minutes. Tech, on the other hand, struggled to find a groove in that same time frame, shooting just under 20 percent from the field.
The pace improved a touch on both sides over the remainder of the first half, but UT Martin built a commanding 44-22 lead at the break while nearly doubling the Golden Eagle offensive efficiency.
In the second half, the Skyhawks extended their advantage to 31 points with just over 14 minutes to play, but the Golden Eagles refused to give in and showed the same fight and resiliency they had all season.
Over the remainder of the contest, Tech outscored UT Martin, 35-16, while forcing nine turnovers. Half of the purple and gold's 16 assists in the contest also came over that same stretch.
On the night, sophomore Jr. Clay led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 17 points, 12 of which came in the second half. He also dished out six assists to just one turnover and produced three steals.
Joining him in double figures was freshman guard Keishawn Davidson. The youngster scored all 13 of his points in the second stanza and dished out a trio of dimes with a pair of steals.
Tujautae Williams added nine points and five boards to the mix while Hunter Vick chipped in eight off the bench. Reece Wilkinson scored the team's first five points and finished with seven total on the night.
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, including 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