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Tech men look for back-to-back wins with Thursday rematch at Eastern Illinois

Tech men look for back-to-back wins with Thursday rematch at Eastern Illinois

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team will head north to kick off a road trip to Illinois, slated to play Eastern Illinois in a rematch of Monday's tilt in Cookeville with a 7:30 p.m. CT match-up in Charleston Thursday evening.

This marks the third straight week the purple and gold will play a back-to-back series against a league foe. The Golden Eagles will then head to SIUE on Saturday, squaring off with the Cougars in a 3:30 p.m. affair in Edwardsville.

Fans can follow the action on ESPN+ or on 106.1 The Eagle with Dylan Vazzano providing radio coverage of the contest. Vazzano will be joined by special guest Bryce Weiler on Tech's radio broadcast, a blind commentator who has done work with EIU, SIUE, Western Illinois, Kansas City, Illinois, Evansville, and more. An Evansville graduate, he has called more than 150 collegiate basketball games.

Tennessee Tech (6-18, 3-8) at Eastern Illinois (4-19, 2-8)
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022
7:30 p.m. CT
Lantz Arena – Charleston, Ill.

The Broadcasts
TV: None
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Dylan Vazzano & Bryce Weiler)
Webcast: ESPN+ (Mike Bradd)

Game Notes
Tennessee Tech
Eastern Illinois

Thursday marks the 47th meeting all-time between Tech and Eastern Illinois, with the Golden Eagles owning a 28-18 lead in the series.

In Charleston, the series is deadlocked at 11 wins apiece. The Panthers have won each of the past two tilts in Lantz Arena, with Tech's last win coming in a 63-57 decision on Mar. 2, 2019.

EIU's longest winning streak in the series sits at four games from Jan. 10, 1998 through Feb. 4, 1999.

Tech's longest winning streak in the series was six consecutive victories spanning Jan. 24, 2004 through Jan. 19, 2006.

Tech's Shandon Goldman flirted with a triple-double in last season's victory on Feb. 13, posting career-highs of 20 points and eight assists and securing a double-double with 11 rebounds. He hit 4-of-8 tries from distance and chipped in a pair of steals while playing 32 minutes.

Jr. Clay led the Golden Eagles with 22 points in the contest, also draining four attempts from beyond the arc. Coming off the bench, Keishawn Davidson produced 18 points with five boards and six dimes.

In Monday's showdown in Cookeville, Clay (pictured below) dropped a season-high 23 points while tying his career-best mark of six made triples. He also snagged three steals and four rebounds.

Kenny White Jr. set new career standards of five makes from distance and five assists while scoring 17 points with a team-high seven rebounds. Mamoudou Diarra chipped in 14 points while Davidson added 11 points and a team-best eight assists.

The Golden Eagles dropped 84 points in their win over Eastern Illinois Monday, marking the first time the team has scored 80+ in back-to-back games since defeating Martin Methodist 83-70 and falling to Wright State in overtime, 85-80, back on Nov. 9 and Nov. 12, respectively.

Tech shot an eye-popping 14-of-28 from distance in the win and 55.4 percent from the floor. Jr. Clay dropped a season-high 23 points with six makes from distance while Kenny White Jr. added 17 points and career-highs of five triples and five assists. Keishawn Davidson dished out eight dimes, totaling 19 in his last two games.

The purple and gold dished out 21 assists in the win, moving to 5-2 this season when doling out 20+ helpers.

Tech's home loss to Belmont marked the sixth 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.

Kenny White Jr. went off for 23 points in Tech's win over SIUE, while Jr. Clay chipped in 20 of his own off the bench, as well as five dimes and four steals. It marked the first time this season a pair of Golden Eagles scored 20+ points in the same game.

When Tech squared off with SIUE Thursday, it marked 35 days between home games for the purple and gold, with the last coming against Montreat College on Dec. 16, 2021. The gap ranks in the top-10 in the country this season.

With a 76-70 victory at UT Martin last Saturday, Tech picked up its first road win since a 62-60 decision over Southeast Missouri on Feb. 20, 2020 and the first of this season.

When the Golden Eagles suited up against Belmont Jan. 13, it had been 23 days since Tech's most recent contest, a 76-67 loss at Cincinnati back on Dec. 21, 2021.

The 23-day hiatus from the hardwood marked the longest in-season break since the 2015-16 season, which featured a whopping 26-day stretch between contests. That year, Tech fell to Austin Peay in the first round of the OVC Tournament on Mar. 2, 2015 and later competed in the first-ever and only Vegas 16 Tournament against Old Dominion on Mar. 28, 2016.

It also represented the longest regular-season break for the purple and gold since the 1960-61 campaign. Tech had an incredible 28 days between contests at Morehead State on Dec. 10, 1960 and at Murray State on Jan. 7, 1961.

In Tech's huge, 117-60 victory over Montreat, 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.

In the win over the Bisons, Jr. Clay (9) and Keishawn Davidson (10) were special, becoming the first duo in program history to combine for 19 assists and zero turnovers.

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).

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.

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 16 players (13 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 Georgia features a pair. Arkansas, California, and Kentucky each claim one Tech player.

Three international players round out the roster, including one Golden Eagle from Canada and two more from Mali.

Tech has two graduate students, three juniors, six sophomores, and five freshmen.

Nine 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).

Also new to the squad are freshmen Bailey Gilliam and Isaiah Nelson-Ododa.

Photo by Jim Dillon

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