Tech men's basketball hosts Southeast Missouri in Senior Day contest Saturday

Tech men's basketball hosts Southeast Missouri in Senior Day contest Saturday

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will play its final regular-season game in the Hooper Eblen Center Saturday afternoon, playing host to Southeast Missouri in a 4:00 p.m. CT tilt. The contest will represent Senior Day, with all set to be honored in a ceremony to be held following the conclusion of the Tech women's game and prior to the start of warm-ups for the men's game.

Darius Allen
A six-foot-six guard from Melbourne, Fla. who transferred to Tech this season from Baylor… in his lone season as a Golden Eagle, he has provided crucial veteran leadership while playing in all 28 games with 22 starts… this season he is averaging 8.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and leads the team with 51 3-point field goals and multiple earth-shattering dunks… he is an interdisciplinary studies major who will graduate in May.

Tyler Thompson
A six-foot guard from Kingston, Tenn.… a transfer from Roane State Community College, he has played in 14 games in two seasons for the Golden Eagles… he has been named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll three times and to the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll once during his Tech career… he is an exercise science physical education and wellness major with a concentration in sports administration who will graduate in May.

Cade Crosland
A six-foot guard from Sparta, Tenn.… a transfer from Chattanooga State Community College his sophomore season, this former walk-on earned a scholarship his first season in the purple and gold… in three seasons as a Golden Eagle, he has played in 77 games, totaling more than 120 points, 60 rebounds 50 assists and 65 3-point field goals… he is a communications major with a concentration in journalism who will graduate in May.

Tennessee Tech (8-20, 5-10) vs. Southeast Missouri (7-21, 3-12)
Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020
4:00 p.m. CT
Eblen Center (7,500) – Cookeville, Tenn.

The Broadcasts
TV: None
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: ESPN+ (Dylan Vazzano & Steve Smith)

Saturday marks the 53rd meeting all-time between the two programs, with Tech owning a 34-18 lead in the series.

When competing in Cookeville, the Golden Eagles hold a 22-5 advantage over the Redhawks 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.

Just two weeks, ago, the Golden Eagles edged the Redhawks in Cape Girardeau by a final score of 62-60.

Freshman Dane Quest hit a pair of free throws in the final six seconds to give Tech the lead for good in a contest it led all night.

Garrett Golday was the catalyst for the purple and gold in the contest, scoring a career-high 13 points to lead his team in scoring. Jr. Clay added 11 points to the mix as the team's only other double-digit scorer.

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 2.8 assists per game and 26 total steals on the year.

Both Sage Tolbert and Skyler Hogan fall next on SEMO's scoring charts, averaging 9.4 and 8.8 points per game, respectively.

Tolbert leads the team with 6.8 rebounds per game and 21 total blocks while shooting a team-high 55.4 percent from the floor.

Hogan ranks as the team's best shooter, firing at a 35.1 percent clip from beyond the 3-point line and 81.6 percent from the charity stripe. He averages also averages 4.3 rebounds per contest.

After starting OVC play 0-10, the Redhawks have won three of their past five games in league play, with losses only to Tech and at Jacksonville State. 

One of the best overall efforts of the season propelled the Tech men's basketball team to a 78-65 OVC victory over in-state rival UT Martin Thursday evening.

The Golden Eagles avenged a loss to the Skyhawks in Martin earlier in the month, claiming the team's 400th victory all-time in the comfort of the Eblen Center, which was opened in 1977.

Overall, the purple and gold dished out 20 assists for the fifth time this season, with four of those contests resulting in victory. The team's seven turnovers represented the fewest for the Golden Eagles all season as well.

The Skyhawks gathered the first bucket of the ball game, but Tech responded with a 14-1 run to take the lead for good. The Golden Eagles extended the advantage to as much as 17 points in the first half and never let the game get closer than six the remainder of the night.

Senior Cade Crosland led Tech with 15 points on 5-for-11 shooting from downtown off the bench, earning Special Olympics Player of the Game honors. Sophomore Jr. Clay produced 14 points with seven assists, three rebounds and three steals while freshman Tujautae Williams chipped in 11 points, six boards and three dimes.

Fellow rookie Keishawn Davidson wrapped up the double-digit scorers for Tech with 10 points and six assists. Senior Darius Allen and sophomore Amadou Sylla each added nine points to the mix, with Sylla also corralling a team-high nine rebounds.

Tech dominated in the points off turnovers and fast-break categories on the night. The Golden Eagles scored 18 points off UT Martin miscues as opposed to the Skyhawks' five such points. The purple and gold also held the visitors without a fast-break bucket while dropping 15 of its own. Additionally, Tech held UT Martin to just 4-of-16 from 3-point range.

Overall, the Skyhawks actually turned in a better field goal percentage of 46.4 to Tech's 41.9, but the Golden Eagles managed to get good look after good look, hitting 11-of-36 tries from beyond the arc.

Tech captured its 400th victory in the Eblen Center Thursday evening, defeating UT Martin 78-65.

Serving as captains for the young Tech squad in 2019-20 are freshman Keishawn Davidson, sophomores Jr. Clay, Hunter Vick and Amadou Sylla, junior Maverick Smith and 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.

Seven members are new to the Tech squad for 2019-20, including Darius Allen, Keishawn Davidson, Larry Kuimi, Michael Lolio, Dane Quest, Amadou Sylla and Tujautae Williams.

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.

Only two Golden Eagles played at Tech in both 2017-18 and 2018-19, including senior Cade Crosland and junior Maverick Smith. Hunter Vick was on the roster in 2017-18, but redshirted due to an injury.

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