Jacksonville State (10-19) at Tennessee Tech (14-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 22, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Center (9,280) -- Cookeville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: JSU 7-5, Tenn Tech 9-4. Away Record: JSU 2-13, Tenn Tech 5-8. Neutral Record: JSU 1-1, Tenn Tech 0-2. Conference Record: JSU 4-10, Tenn Tech 7-6. Series Record: Tennessee Tech leads, 13-10.
GAME NOTES: Two teams moving in opposite directions are set to meet on Saturday night, as the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in Ohio Valley Conference action at the Eblen Center.
Jacksonville State has lost its last six contests, most recently to Southeast Missouri State on Thursday night, 87-70. The Gamecocks are just a game out of the cellar in the East Division.
Unlike the Gamecocks, the Golden Eagles are on a roll of late, having won four of their last five and are just a game out of third place in the East behind Eastern Kentucky. They last played on Thursday night and beat UT-Martin in a 91-83 final on the road.
Tennessee Tech owns the series lead, 13-10, and has won the last two meetings, including a 72-60 decision earlier this month.
For the Gamecocks, Darion Rackley poured in 27 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the floor in the loss to Southeast Missouri State, while Avery Moore added 13 points and D.J. Moore scored 12 points. SEMO took a 48-38 lead into the intermission after it connected on 63.6 percent of its shots from the floor in the opening stanza. The Gamecocks were limited to 46.4 percent efficiency from the field in the first half. JSU managed to make only 29 percent of its field goal attempts after the break, and trailed by as many as 22 in the second period. SEMO dominated on the interior as it outscored the Gamecocks, 58-16, in the paint, and finished with a 40-34 advantage in total rebounds.
It did not help that Brian Williams (11.0 ppg), who is one of only two double- digit scorers on the roster, had just two points on 1-of-7 shooting in the game against SEMO. Williams has been suffering from a sprained right ankle, which may be affecting his production. That puts a lot of pressure on Rackley (13.4 ppg), who already struggles to score with any degree of efficiency. He is connecting on just under 40 percent of his total shots. With so few offensive options, the Gamecocks are last in the OVC in scoring (65.7 ppg). However, they are holding teams to a league-best 70 ppg.
Jeremiah Samarrippas recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists in the Golden Eagles win over the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks. Dennis Ogbe notched 17 points and four blocked shots, Dwan Caldwell chipped in 11 points with seven rebounds, and Josiah Moore added 10 points in the win. Tennessee Tech outscored UTM from 3-point range, 33-15.
Tennessee Tech ranks ninth in the OVC in scoring (71.2 ppg) and eighth in field goal percentage (.442). Ogbe (10.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Caldwell (10.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) are the top scorers on a unit that favors balance over individual performance. Including Ogbe and Caldwell, there are six players putting in over 7 ppg. Samarrippas (9.8 ppg, 4.4 apg) could be scoring at a better rate, but he is only connecting on 37.7 percent of his field goal attempts. He does make up for the poor shooting to an extent, ranking in the top-10 in the OVC in assists.
The Golden Eagles are trying to move up in the standing as the conference tournament approaches. With the struggles of the Gamecocks, especially on the road, expect Tech to stay hot and pull out the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee Tech 73, Jacksonville State 67
02/22 10:34:27 ET