GAME NOTES: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks take aim at the season sweep of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles this evening, as the two are set for an Ohio Valley Conference showdown.
These teams met January 19 in Cookeville as Jacksonville State, which trailed by four points with less than 10 seconds to go, won on Dion Waiters' three- point play with one second on the clock. Still, Tennessee Tech leads the all- time series, 12-9.
Ever since that setback, Tennessee Tech has won four of five and put up more than 90 points in each of its last two outings. The Golden Eagles notched a 98-80 win over SIU-Edwardsville on Monday, then followed that up with a 94-88 victory at Austin Peay on Thursday. They enter the weekend tied with Tennessee State for third place in the OVC standings.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville State has won four straight in league play, including Thursday's 85-74 triumph at UT-Martin. Thanks to their recent streak, the Gamecocks come into the weekend one game out of fifth place in the OVC as the conference tournament nears. Following this tilt, they'll get back on the road to face Morehead State on Wednesday, followed by Tennessee State on Valentine's Day.
Tennessee Tech sank 16 consecutive free throws in the final four minutes of Thursday's game to knock off Austin Peay. The Governors trailed by 10 with five and a half minutes to play, but they put together a late rally to make the Golden Eagles sweat it out. The Purple and Gold were once again led by the tandem of Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard. Murphy hit five three-pointers and went 10-of-12 at the foul line en route to 33 points and seven rebounds. Dillard made 13-of-14 free throws and tied his career-high with 29 points to go along with nine rebounds. Entering today's tilt, Murphy tops the OVC in scoring with 21.8 ppg (23.8 ppg in OVC play, while Dillard ranks third with 18.0 ppg. Murphy scored 50 against SIUE on Monday and has now scored 30 or more points in three of his last four games. He has buried 59 three-pointers on the year (.454) and is also pulling down 5.5 rebounds per outing. Murphy and Dillard have scored 20-plus points in the same game five times this season. Behind that dynamic duo, TTU is putting up 74.4 ppg and is shooting 47.4 percent from the floor.
In each of the last three games, the Gamecocks have placed five players in double figures. Sophomore Brian Williams paces the squad with 12.9 ppg and is shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc (40-of-111). He has scored in double figures in five straight and nine of the last 10 games. Tarvin Gaines is the only other double-digit scorer, averaging 10.4 ppg. Although they have started to come on of late, the Gamecocks are shooting just 41.8 percent from the floor as a team this season. They are also -1.4 in rebounding margin, averaging 33.2 caroms per game. In Thursday's win over UT-Martin, junior Ronnie Boggs tallied a career-best 17 points as JSU shot a blistering 56.6 percent from the floor. But the real story was the team's free throw shooting, as the Gamecocks came within one of an OVC record. They finished 23-of-24 from the charity stripe, one shy of Murray State's OVC record of 24-for-24, set in the 1965-66 season. That miss belonged to reserve Darion Rackley, who otherwise posted a solid game with 13 points, five assists and a pair of steals.
Given what happened the last time these teams met, Tennessee Tech will no doubt be hungry to exact some revenge. However, JSU's balance presents a big challenge here for the Golden Eagles, who rely heavily on two players to produce.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 81, Tennessee Tech 79
02/04 10:38:49 ET
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