GAME NOTES: Both the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles and the Auburn Tigers will attempt to build on recent wins, as the two square off at Auburn Arena on Tuesday night.
Tennessee Tech's season has been highlighted by its streaky play. It opened the campaign on a three-game win streak before dropping three consecutive tilts. The Golden Eagles were able to bounce back from the slide in recent weeks with wins in three of their last four, most recently logging an impressive road win at Milwaukee on Saturday, 69-58.
Auburn has experienced a similar pattern through its first nine games. After starting the year at 2-1, it dropped four straight before working its way closer to .500 with back-to-back wins. The Tigers improved to 2-2 on their current six-game homestand with a 64-50 win over Furman on Saturday.
The Tigers have claimed three of the four previous meetings with the Eagles, although the teams haven't met since the 1989-90 season.
The Golden Eagles struggled from 3-point range in their bout with Milwaukee, making just 3-of-17 from downtown, but they managed to connect on 47.5 percent of their shots overall while holding Milwaukee into just 32.2 percent shooting in the 11-point victory. Pacing four teammates in double figures was Jud Dillard, who tallied a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Lanerryl Johnson and Dennis Ogbe each scored 15 points, while Jeremiah Samarrippas recorded 10 points, six assists and four steals. TTU has been efficient from the floor through 10 games, shooting 46.5 percent in averaging 68.8 ppg, which is 7.0 ppg more than its opponents. Dillard has been one of the Ohio Valley Conference's best players in the early going, netting 18.7 ppg while adding 7.5 ppg and 2.5 apg. Samarrippas (10.4 ppg) shoots a lowly 30.7 percent from the field, but he is able to find the open man with 4.2 apg. Johnson rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers with 10.3 ppg.
For the second straight game, Auburn held a team to 50 points or less in its recent win over the Paladins, holding them to just 30.8 percent from the field. The Tigers had a rather modest shooting night (.431), but Chris Denson led the way with 17 points, while Jordan Price added 14 points off the bench, draining all four of his 3-point attempts. Frankie Sullivan wasn't as sharp from beyond the arc (1-of-6), but he still finished with 11 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. The Tigers have relied on strong defensive play to win games, as they only put up 65.7 ppg on 42.4 percent shooting. Sullivan has been one of the better guards in the SEC, averaging 17.7 ppg, 3.4 apg and 4.2 rpg, and Denson (15.0 ppg) has been effective in the last two games after missing the first seven. Rob Chubb provides a valuable inside presence with his 9.6 ppg and 7.8 rpg.
Tennessee Tech has gotten off to a strong start and it has even shown to be formidable away from home with a pair of road victories, but Auburn appears to be playing its best basketball of the year now that Denson has returned to the lineup.