By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – If Thursday evening's exhibition win over Berea College is any indicator of the future of the Tennessee Tech men's basketball season, year three of the John Pelphrey era is sure to provide improvement and plenty of excitement for Golden Eagle fans.
The purple and gold cruised to a 104-63 victory over the visiting Mountaineers, racking up a whopping 30 assists to just nine turnovers and out-rebounding its opponents 53-34. Tech shot a very solid 54.1 percent from the floor, scoring 76 points in the paint alone on the night.
"We had some guys out that will have a chance to play significant minutes this year," Tech head coach John Pelphrey said, "so it was good for some of the other guys to get a chance to see what they can do and what it may be like if some of those guys can't return. We all know too well from last year's experience that injuries are part of the game."
Even with five players out with a variety of small or nagging injuries, the remaining 12 players on the roster saw at least five minutes of action, with 10 finding the bottom of the net and 11 corralling at least one rebound. Six different Golden Eagles scored in double figures, led by sophomore transfer Daniel Ramsey with 16 on a highly efficient 8-for-10 shooting.
"I think we certainly played better than we did in our scrimmage, so we made some progress," Pelphrey explained. "Some things we really like were when we were able to get defensive stops and rebounds, there were some opportunities to get on the break and play with some pace there. In the half-court, when we moved the ball, had good spacing, played with speed, we were able to get some really good opportunities to score.
"Our message taking away from tonight is those are the things we need to be consistent with. If we don't do it, we're really putting ourselves in harm's way for being able to compete well."
Stuffing the stat sheet for the Cookeville crew was returning sophomore Keishawn Davidson, who flirted with a triple-double in just 28 minutes of work. The Murfreesboro native did deliver a double-double, scoring 12 points and dishing out 10 assists while hauling in eight rebounds.
Graduate transfer John Pettway connected on 7-of-8 attempts for 15 points and chipped in five helpers and three steals. Returning graduate Shandon Goldman corralled six boards while turning in 13 points while Jacksonville transfer Diante Wood finished a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor with 12 points and four dimes.
"I thought Keishawn was awesome tonight," Pelphrey expressed. "I thought he led and played the game the right way. Being just a couple rebounds shy of a triple-double in not a lot of minutes, you're playing pretty well and that's quality play.
"A couple of the newcomers in John Pettway and Diante Wood came in and were able to do some things that made the night easy for us. They made layups, got second-chance points, made some defensive plays. Kenny White played 10 games for us last year, but that's not very much. He's really made a lot of progress. Tonight, I don't think was his best night, but he still found a way to get 10 rebounds, seven points, and three assists. He has a real chance to have a big impact for our team and we're proud of the progress he's made."
Pelphrey added, "There was enough there for us tonight to show progress, gain a little confidence and now go back to practice, look at those things if we do a little bit better, our team will get a lot better."
The Golden Eagles will officially kick off the 2021-22 slate with its season opener at Memphis on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
Season tickets for Tennessee Tech men's basketball are now on sale. To order, call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUSports.com.
Photo by Jim Dillon