By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
MURRAY, Ky. – A piping-hot start just wasn't enough for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Monday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell to longtime Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State at the CFSB Center, 79-53.
The purple and gold exploded out of the gates, opening the contest on an 11-2 run while holding the league-leading Racers (18-2, 8-0) to a 1-for-9 start from the floor while shooting 5-for-6 as a unit. Murray State called for a timeout after the Tech lead grew nine, taking the game to its first media break.
The home squad appeared to gather itself and settle into the contest, ending the first half on a 37-13 run to take a 15-point advantage into the locker room.
"Murray State has a very good basketball team and we look forward to the chance to play them again on Thursday," Tech head coach John Pelphrey expressed. "We got off to a really good start and did a great job defending them. We moved the ball, got some good looks, and led 11-2. Then I think they out-scored us 37-13 to end the half."
The Golden Eagles opened the second stanza with a couple of quick buckets, cutting the deficit to 11 twice. It would mark the closest they would come, as the Racers would pull away and never look back.
"We started the second half kind of getting some stops again and got the lead down to 11 on a couple of occasions, but we just did not play well enough offensively," Pelphrey said. "We had 15 turnovers in the game and didn't work well together like we did the other night when we had the 20-plus assists."
On the night, the Tech squad was held to just 25-of-60 from the field and 2-for-24 from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles also attempted just three free throws in the game, converting on one of them.
"This is going to be a huge learning opportunity for us to be able to compete against the league's best," Pelphrey explained. "We talked about this coming in here. We're better than what we showed tonight. I think it did hurt us a bit when John Pettway went out of the game, one of our tougher guys on both ends of the floor. We also had another of our tough guys out in Diante Wood, so our defense really suffered.
"I thought their guards really applied a tremendous amount of pressure to Keishawn [Davidson] and Jr. [Clay] on the defensive end. They weren't going to let them rest, they were going to make them defend and I think it really took a lot out of them on the offensive end."
Clay finished the night with eight points and four rebounds while Davidson accounted for six points. Returning rookie Kenny White Jr. and sophomore Daniel Ramsey shared the team lead in scoring, each producing 12 points. White also tied for the team lead in rebounding, hauling five boards. Ramsey hit 6-of-8 attempts from the floor while hauling in a pair of rebounds with two assists.
"We'll have to take a look at this to learn and get better, but we had some bright spots," Pelphrey added. "When Daniel gets on balance in and around the post, he can score the ball. Kenny continues to show he can get to a certain place on the court and be effective. We just need to get more guys involved from a consistency standpoint. That's my job. We have to really understand how to score against a really good defensive basketball team. We worked on it for a few days, but we're going to have a few more days, so hopefully, we do a better job and come out and play a bit better when we get back home."
The Golden Eagles will have a quick turnaround in preparing for their rematch with Murray State, squaring off with the Racers again Thursday evening in a 6:00 p.m. CT tilt at the Hooper Eblen Center.
Photo courtesy of Dave Winder, Murray State Media Relations