GAME NOTES: The Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech try to bounce back from their first loss of the season as they contend against the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in non-conference play at Gentile Arena on Wednesday night.
The Golden Eagles, members of the Ohio Valley Conference, opened the campaign with a bang as they crushed Crowley's Ridge by a score of 107-32, before picking up another two wins against Coastal Carolina and East Tennessee State which came by a combined five points. At home last week, TTU was held to a season-low 50 points in a 12-point loss to Evansville.
As for the Ramblers, they started off the season with four consecutive games away from home, but are back in Gentile Arena where they've won both of their bouts this year and five of their last six versus non-conference opponents. On Saturday, the team recorded a 53-46 victory over Northern Illinois on the road. The scoring output by Loyola was the team's lowest since registering a 53-52 win over Wright State in Horizon League action on New Year's Eve of 2009.
Loyola-Chicago leads the all-time series against the Golden Eagles by a count of 3-1, although it was Tennessee Tech that posted an 87-76 victory in the most recent meeting back in 2001, the one game that continues to stand out is the very first one from 1963 when Loyola crushed the Golden Eagles (111-42) during the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The 69-point margin remains the most lopsided in the history of the event.
The starting five for the Golden Eagles combined to shoot only 9-of-30 from the floor against Evansville last week, with only Dennis Ogbe scoring in double figures for the quintet with his 10 points. Off the bench, the team picked up another 10 points in 18 minutes from Lanerryl Johnson, but the squad shot only 38 percent from the floor overall and visited the free-throw line a mere 10 times, hitting half of the opportunities. If not for the blowout win over Crowley's Ridge in the opener, the Golden Eagles wouldn't be anywhere near the 73.2 ppg they are being credited with at the moment. Jud Dillard is the lone double-digit scorer for the program with his 23.2 ppg, one of the top marks in the nation thanks to his 57.6 percent effort from the field. Unfortunately, after Dillard there is a massive drop-off in scoring, with Ogbe placing second with his 8.8 ppg stemming from a staggering 68.2 percent accuracy from the field.
Despite converting only five field goals over the first 20 minutes of action against Northern Illinois in the last outing, the Ramblers actually held a one-point advantage at the break, 16-15, before feasting at the free-throw line in the second half, en route to the seven-point win. Ben Averkamp registered a double-double for the visitors with his 15 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 3-of-4 behind the three-point line while also adding three steals ands a couple of assists. Cully Payne added 10 points and Joe Crisman matched Averkamp on the glass and yet the team still managed just six offensive rebounds. Owning at least a share of the scoring lead for the Ramblers in all six games this season, Averkamp is now the lone double-digit scorer for the group with his 17.7 ppg. Even though he is playing just under 17 minutes per game, Matt O'Leary is listed as the second-best scorer on the unit with a mere 6.5 ppg.
With a suffocating defense that is allowing just 55.3 ppg, the Ramblers don't need too many scoring threats, but as long as they have Averkamp they should be in good shape.