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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Center (9,282) -- Cookeville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: TSU 2-8, TTU 7-2. Away Record: TSU 0-11, TTU 3-8. Neutral Record: TSU 0-2, TTU 0-2. Conference Record: TSU 1-8, TTU 3-4. Series Record: Tennessee Tech leads, 29-26.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles will play four of their next fives games at the Eblen Center, beginning on Thursday night with an Ohio Valley Conference clash versus the Tennessee State Tigers.
Tennessee State's season has been a struggle from start to finish, as it has won only two of 23 games overall (0-11 on the road) and is alone in last place in the OVC at 1-8. The Tigers' losing streak extended to seven games last Saturday with an 80-74 overtime loss at home to Morehead State.
While by comparison TTU's campaign has been successful compared to Tennessee State's, it has still been inconsistent at 10-12 and 3-4 in league play. The Golden Eagles have lost a season-high three straight games, most recently dropping an 83-69 decision at Austin Peay, but they have performed well on their home floor at 7-2.
The Golden Eagles edged the Tigers in the OVC opener on Jan. 2, 57-53, to improve their standing in the all-time series to 29-26.
The Tigers overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to force overtime in their most recent contest but could not outlast Morehead State in the extra session as they fell on the wrong end of the six-point final. They shot 46.3 percent from the field in the losing effort and were paced by Patrick Miller, who poured in 36 points on 12-of-24 from the field and 10-of-14 from the free- throw line for his second straight 30-point game and his sixth in a row with at least 20 points. Chaed Wellian came off the bench to pitch in 11 points.
Unsurprisingly, Tennessee State has not performed well on either end of the floor this season, as it shoots 42.6 percent from the field for 68.6 ppg, while yielding 77.3 ppg on 46.3 percent shooting. Despite the struggles of his teammates, Miller has been excellent, ranking sixth in the nation in scoring with 23.2 ppg while adding 4.0 apg and nearly two steals per contest as well. M.J. Rhett is a sturdy presence in the paint with 9.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 1.1 bpg.
The Golden Eagles fell behind APSU by five at intermission and never threatened the lead in the second half on their way to a 14-point setback, getting outshot from the field in the process, 67.6 percent to 37.3 percent. Jeremia Samarrippas was stellar despite the loss with 17 points and seven assists, while Jordan Johnson (14 points), Dwan Caldwell (13 points, seven rebounds) and Dennis Ogbe (11 points) were also solid.
TTU has hovered around .500 for most of the season by posting nearly identical offensive numbers (.440 FG percentage, 71.7 ppg) as its opponents (.460, 71.5 ppg), although it does help itself with positive margins in the rebounding (+3.2) and turnover (+0.1) battles. Ogbe is the team's leading scorer with 10.0 ppg on 57.6 percent from the field to go with 5.9 rpg. Samarrippas (9.6 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Caldwell (9.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) are integral parts of the starting lineup, and Ty Allen, Ladon Carter and Josiah Moore all put up between 7.3 and 8.5 ppg.
The hapless Tigers have been especially bad on the road this season. Even with the Golden Eagles' struggles of late, they shouldn't have much issue blowing past Tennessee State.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee Tech 77, Tennessee State 67
01/30 10:35:58 ET
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