By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A total team effort lifted the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team to an impressive, 69-62 victory over in-state rival ETSU Sunday afternoon in the Hooper Eblen Center, as the Golden Eagles (2-3) took an early lead and never looked back.
The visiting Buccaneers (3-2) hit a 3-pointer with 14:21 to play in the first half to take their only lead of the contest at 7-5. Tech guard Brett Thompson promptly responded with a big triple of his own, putting the Cookeville crew back on top for good.
The Golden Eagles grew their advantage to as much as 11 in the opening stanza, but the Bucs refused to go down without a fight. ETSU closed out the final 2:33 of the first half on a 10-2 run, cutting the Tech lead to 33-30 at the break.
Right out of halftime, the visitors cut the deficit to a single point. Tech never let the Bucs back that close again, steadily pushing the lead back into double digits and, eventually, to its peak of 15 with 8:34 to play. A put-back dunk from graduate forward Jaylen Sebree forced an ETSU timeout and a loud surge through the Tech crowd.
Tech slowed down the tempo of the game the rest of the way, holding at least an eight-point advantage until ETSU's Jordan King hit an inconsequential triple with five second to play to provide the final score of 69-62. King led all scorers with 20 points in the contest.
Each of the 10 Golden Eagles that saw the court during the game scored at least two points and hauled in at least one rebound. The group combined to limit a potent Buc offense averaging 81.5 points per game and shooting 47.2 percent from the field to season-lows of 62 points and 35.2 percent efficiency from the floor.
Sebree paced the purple and gold with 15 points, all in the second half. He tacked on five rebounds and a pair of assists for good measure. Thompson flirted with a double-double, contributing 10 points and seven rebounds on 4-for-5 shooting. The junior added three boards and three steals to the mix as well.
Local Sparta native Grant Slatten chipped in nine points and a pair of steals off the bench while South Dakota transfer Erik Oliver led the Golden Eagles with seven rebounds to go along with eight points and three dimes.
The Golden Eagles will feature one more contest before the Thanksgiving break, rounding out their three-game homestand with a Tuesday night tilt against Truett McConnel. Tip is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT in the Hoop.
Photo by Jim Dillon