Eastern Illinois (9-14) at Tennessee Tech (16-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 9th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Center (9,280) -- Cookeville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: EIU 6-6, TTU 8-3. Away Record: EIU 3-8, TTU 6-6. Neutral Record: EIU 0-0, TTU 2-0. Conference Record: EIU 2-9, TTU 8-4. Series Record: TTU leads, 22-11.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Ohio Valley Conference rivals at opposite ends of the spectrum will meet tonight in Tennessee, as the Golden Eagles are set to play host to the Panthers of Eastern Illinois at the Eblen Center.
Eastern Illinois enters tonight's affair in the midst of a tailspin that has seen the squad drop eight consecutive decisions. The string of setbacks has left the Panthers with an underwhelming 9-14 overall tally to their 2011-12 ledger, as well as a meager 2-9 mark in league play. The Panthers most recently found themselves on the losing end of a heartbreaking 56-55 final against Morehead State last Saturday.
As for Tennessee Tech, the Golden Eagles have been on a roll lately, rattling off three straight wins to go with victories in four out of their last five overall. The Golden Eagles improved their overall tally to 16-9 with a hard- fought 76-68 verdict over Jacksonville State on Saturday night that also earned the club an 8-4 mark in OVC action.
TTU owns a 22-11 advantage in the all-time series between the two programs.
A Jeremy Granger three-pointer to tie the game with 19 seconds left went to waste, as the Panthers fell on a free throw from MSU's Angelo Warner with two seconds to go in the one-point loss to the Eagles. EIU shot at a mere 40.4 percent pace during the contest, while allowing the Eagles to hit 56.7 percent from the floor. Granger scored 17 points to lead the way for EIU, while Joey Miller and Alfonzo McKinnie notched 15 and 13 points, respectively, in a losing effort. The Panthers hit just 66.7 percent of their attempts at the charity stripe during the contest, the fourth game in a row that EIU has converted less than 70 percent of its free-throw opportunities. Still, the Panthers rank No. 19 in the nation at the foul line with a 75.5 percent conversion rate, with Granger owning an 86.1 percent mark at the foul line. Granger leads the way in scoring overall for an EIU club that nets just 65.6 points per game with a 15.2 ppg average. McKinnie joins him in double figures with 10.7 points to go with a team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game mark, while Miller rests at the cusp of a double-digit average via a healthy 9.9 ppg contribution.
The Golden Eagles made good on a blistering 58.8 percent from the field during the eight-point win over JSU, but the squad hit only 1-of-6 from long range in the process. TTU did make the most of its chances at the foul line and played solidly at the defensive end of the court, however, hitting 15-of-20 free throws and limiting the Gamecocks to just 42.6 percent from the floor. Jud Dillard finished with a double-double of 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way, while Kevin Murphy added 23 points to go with seven boards. Murphy currently stands as fourth-leading scorer in NCAA Division I. Naturally, his 21.8 ppg leads the way for the Golden Eagles, and combined with Dillars (18.3 ppg), the duo represents the No. 2 scoring duo in NCAA Division I with the 40.1 ppg tally. TTU nets a healthy 74.5 ppg this season, thanks in large part to a 47.8 team shooting percentage. The Golden Eagles have also had moderate success from beyond the arc this year (35.6 percent), as well as at the charity stripe (73.1 percent), while at the same time limiting the opposition to 71.3 ppg.
Naturally, TTU gets the nod here, as the Panthers lack the offensive firepower to keep up with the Golden Eagles throughout the entire contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee Tech 80, Eastern Illinois 68
02/09 10:41:34 ET