By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team hits the road for the first of two contests in the state of Ohio over the next four days, a Saturday matinee against Wright State.
Tip is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. CT at the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. Coverage will be provided on ESPN+, as well as radio on 106.1 The Eagle with Dylan Vazzano on the call. The Golden Eagles will then close out the non-conference portion of their schedule on Tuesday with a 6:00 p.m. tilt at Cincinnati.
Tennessee Tech (3-8) at Wright State (2-7)
Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021
1:00 p.m. CT
Nutter Center – Dayton, Ohio
Saturday marks the second meeting all-time between Tech and Wright State, with the Raiders owning a 1-0 lead in the series.
In Cookeville, the Raiders own a 1-0 advantage, defeating the Golden Eagles in the most recent match-up in the Eblen Center. WSU edged the Golden Eagles, 85-80, in overtime back on Nov. 12, 2019, Tech's third game under the direction of head coach John Pelphrey.
In the loss, former Golden Eagle Darius Allen led the purple and gold with 18 points, including four makes from beyond the arc. Jr. Clay contributed 12 points while Keishawn Davidson (pictured below) posted 14 with seven assists. Amadou Sylla chipped in eight points and a team-high nine rebounds, as well as four helpers.
Current Raider Tanner Holden dropped a huge double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds on 7-for-9 shooting in the game. Former WSU stars Bill Wampler and Loudon Love posted 20 points and five boards and 17 points and 10 rebounds, respectively.
Tech is 18-16 all-time against the current membership of the Horizon League. Tech has faced nine of the 12 teams in the Horizon League, with just Detroit Mercy, IUPUI, UIC left to play.
The Golden Eagles are 10-8 against Youngstown State, a former OVC member, and hold a 4-2 mark over Milwaukee. Tech is 2-1 against Cleveland State and 1-0 versus Robert Morris.
In Tech's huge, 117-60 victory over Montreat Thursday the Golden Eagles tied a 21-year-old program record, dishing out an eye-popping 36 assists. The purple and gold's previous contest with 36 helpers came against Toccoa Falls on Jan. 11, 2000.
The team's 117 points and 62 second-half points were the most by a Tech squad since defeating Warren Wilson College 118-60 back on Dec. 6, 2018.
At Western Carolina, Tech fell to the Catamounts in overtime for the second straight season, 74-69. It marked the fifth consecutive loss in overtime for the Golden Eagles, with the team's last triumph in extra time coming in a 78-69 win against SIUE back on Jan. 10, 2019.
At No. 15 Tennessee, Tech took a 35-34 lead into the locker room thanks to a 3-pointer from Jr. Clay with less than two seconds to go. It marked the Cookeville crew's first halftime advantage over its in-state rival since taking a 32-26 lead into the break in a 61-58 loss on Dec. 19, 2014.
The lead also represented the Golden Eagles' first over a Power 5 team at halftime since leading Ole Miss 32-31 in an 80-63 loss on Dec. 29, 2019.
It was the first lead for Tech over a nationally-ranked opponent since taking a 34-30 advantage at the break against No. 14 Murray State in a 69-64 home loss to the Racers back on Feb. 25, 2012.
It was also the first halftime lead for the purple and gold against a nationally-ranked foe on the road since hitting the locker room ahead of No. 25 Iowa State 49-35 in an 89-74 loss on Dec. 5, 2000.
The two guards were the first Tech pair to combine for at least 19 assists since Maurice Houston (15) and Rob West (7) teamed up for 22 in a 97-79 win over Morehead State on Jan. 11, 1993.
They are just the fourth duo in program history to post 19 assists in a single game, joining Houston and West in 1993, Van Usher (14) and Bobby McWilliams (6) in 1990, and Van Usher (17) and Mitch Cupples (2) in 1990).
They also represent the only duo in the nation to combine for at least 19 assists in one game this season.
In the team's loss against UNC Asheville, the Golden Eagles finished 0-for-21 from 3-point range, the first time Tech completed a contest without a make from beyond the arc since Feb. 10, 2011.
Tech was predicted to finish 8th overall in the 2021-22 OVC race in voting by the league's head coaches and SIDs.
Serving as team captains for the Golden Eagles in 2021-22 are Jr. Clay, Keishawn Davidson, Shandon Goldman, John Pettway, and Diante Wood. It marks the third-straight year serving as captains for both Clay and Davidson.
In the 2021-22 campaign, Tech will square off with eight of the 11 other Division I state institutions, including contests against Austin Peay, Belmont, Chattanooga, Lipscomb, Memphis, Tennessee State, Tennessee, and UT Martin.
TOP IN THEIR STATES
Four of Tech's players for the 2021-22 season boast a particularly impressive feat as part of their respective resumes, all finishing as finalists for the Mr. Basketball Award for their state during their high school careers.
Junior guard Jr. Clay was a two-time finalist at the TSSAA Division II Class AA level while at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, earning the honor in 2017 and again in 2018.
Sophomore guard CJ Gettelfinger was one of three finalists at the TSSAA Division II Class A level in 2018 while competing for Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville.
Freshman forward Kenny White Jr. was named a finalist for Kentucky's Mr. Basketball Award in 2020 while starring for Madisonville-North Hopkins High School in Madisonville, Ky.
Transfer guard Diante Wood was named the runner-up for Alabama's Mr. Basketball Award in 2018, prepping as a four-start recruit at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Anniston, Ala.
Head coach John Pelphrey, a University of Kentucky Hall of Famer, was a Mr. Basketball Award winner during his high school days, claiming the honor for Paintsville High School in 1987.
The 2021-22 Tech roster features 17 players (14 scholarship student-athletes) representing six states and three countries.
Five Golden Eagle players hail from the state Tennessee, while Alabama boasts three Tech players, and California and Georgia each feature a pair. Arkansas and Kentucky are represented by one Tech player each.
Three international players round out the roster, including one Golden Eagle from Canada and two more from Mali.
Tech has two graduate students, four juniors, six sophomores, and five freshmen.
Ten Golden Eagles stand 6-foot-6 or taller while the other seven measure in at 6-foot-5 or shorter.
Seven members are new to the Tech squad for 2021-22, including five Division I transfers. Joining the Tech forces from other Division I institutions, are Diante Wood (Jacksonville/Alabama), Daniel Ramsey (Xavier), Mamoudou Diarra (Cincinnati), Caleb Christopher (Arizona State), and John Pettway (South Alabama).
Photo by Jim Dillon