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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles host Tennessee State in Thursday night in-state battle

Golden Eagles host Tennessee State in Thursday night in-state battle

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team returns to Cookeville for its final two contests of the 2021-22 regular season, starting the week with a Thursday battle with in-state rival Tennessee State.

Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. CT as part of doubleheader action, pitting the Golden Eagles against the Tigers in a rematch of this year's earlier tilt in Nashville. TSU earned an 80-64 victory in match-up.

Fans can follow the action on ESPN+, with Dylan Vazzano and Frank Harrell on the call, or on 106.1 The Eagle with Roger Ealey providing radio coverage of the contest. Local fans can also view the contest on television, with WCTE producing the contest with Sam Brooks, Marc Burnett, and Adam West.

Tennessee Tech (9-19, 6-9) vs. Tennessee State (12-16, 7-9)
Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022
7:30 p.m. CT
Eblen Center – Cookeville, Tenn.

TV: WCTE (Sam Brooks, Marc Burnett, & Adam West)
Radio: 106.1 The Eagle (Roger Ealey)
Webcast: ESPN+ (Dylan Vazzano & Frank Harrell)

Tennessee Tech
Tennessee State

Thursday marks the 74th meeting all-time between Tech and Tennessee State, with the Tigers holding a slight, 37-36 edge in the series.

In Cookeville, the Golden Eagles own a 19-16 edge in the series. TSU has won two of the past three meetings in the Eblen Center, but the Golden Eagles claimed victory in last year's tilt.

The Tigers picked up wins in six of the past seven tilts between the two programs, with the two teams splitting the series last season.

In this year's meeting in Nashville, Daniel Ramsey and Keishawn Davidson tied for the team lead with 14 points each, with Ramsey hitting 6-of-9 shots. Jr. Clay added 11 points to the mix as well.

TSU's Carlos Marshall Jr. led all scorers with 19 points while Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. produced 18. Dedric Boyd chipped in 16 with Kassim Nicholson adding 12.

Tech took home the win in last year's first tilt in Cookeville, with Keishawn Davidson leading the way with a then career-high 19 points, as well as six assists and two steals.

In the rematch at the Gentry Center, the Tigers took the W in a barn burner, edging the purple and gold 91-86.

Jr. Clay paced the Golden Eagles with 26 points in the loss, hitting five tries from distance while accounting for four rebounds and five assists.

Franklin added 23 points with seven rebounds and four made triples. Shandon Goldman produced 10 points with four boards and four dimes while Austin Harvell narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Mark Freeman led the Tiger effort with 22 points and 13 assists while Shakem Johnson tallied 15 points.

With a 73-69 win at Austin Peay on Saturday, Tech has won four of its past five games to clinch its first OVC Tournament berth since the 2017-18 season. That season was also the last time the Golden Eagles won four-of-five contests.

John Pettway led Tech with a season-high 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting, scoring each of the team's final seven points while hauling in seven rebounds. Jr. Clay added 16 points off the bench.

Tech outlasted Southeast Missouri in a barn-burner last Thursday, pulling off the 98-94 win in the Hoop. The team's 98 points marked the most against a Division I opponent since dropping 104 in a victory in the Pit at New Mexico on Nov. 21, 2017.

Six Golden Eagles scored in double figures in the win, a first since Nov. 16, 2017 against Boyce College.

The Golden Eagles dropped 84 points in their win over Eastern Illinois in Cookeville, marking the first time the team 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.

The purple and gold dished out 24 assists in the home win over SEMO, moving to 6-2 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 Thomas Corhern

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