Belmont (17-7) at Tennessee Tech (10-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 1, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Arena (9,280) -- Cookeville, Tennessee. Television: WCTE. Home Record: Belmont 8-1, TTU 7-3. Away Record: Belmont 7-6, TTU 3-8. Neutral Record: Belmont 2-0, TTU 0-2. Conference Record: Belmont 8-1, TTU 3-5. Series Record: Tennessee Tech leads, 11-3.
GAME NOTES: The Belmont Bruins are riding a wave of momentum into the Eblen Center as they get set to square off with the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in an Ohio Valley Conference tilt.
J.J. Mann connected on a jumper with 12 seconds left in regulation to conclude a 10-0 run that lifted the Bruins to a 76-73 victory over Morehead State on Wednesday. The win was the fifth in a row for Belmont, which is in sole possession of first place in the OVC's East Division with an 8-1 mark in conference play. Coach Rick Byrd's team has outscored its OVC opposition by 7.1 ppg, which gives it the second best average scoring margin behind Murray State. The Bruins have been unstoppable since entering their league slate, converting 51.7 percent of their field-goal attempts through nine games.
Tennessee Tech endured its fourth consecutive loss on Thursday as it suffered an 81-68 setback to Tennessee State. The Golden Eagles sank 52 percent of their field goal tries in the opening 20 minutes and went into the break tied up with TSU at 36, but they were unable to keep up the intensity after the intermission. Coach Steve Payne's squad has allowed its opposition to average 84.8 ppg during the span of its current slide.
Belmont entered the OVC prior to last season with an 0-11 all-time record versus TTU. The Bruins have won the three OVC encounters, including a 64-62 decision in Nashville on Jan. 4. The Golden Eagles had a chance to tie as time winded down in the second period, however senior guard Jeremiah Samarrippas missed a jumper as time expired.
Mann finished with a team-high 22 points in Belmont's come from behind win over the Eagles at Johnson Arena. Reece Chamberlain added 14 points and four assists, while Craig Bradshaw contributed 12 points to help the Bruins collect their 17th win of the campaign. After being limited to 32 percent efficiency from the floor in the first half, the Bruins heated up to sink 60 percent of their field goal attempts in the second period. Mann is netting 17.4 ppg and Bradshaw is second on the squad at 15.8 ppg. Senior forward Drew Windler provides an inside presence with 10.2 ppg.
Despite the negative outcome for the team, the Golden Eagles' forward duo of Dwan Caldwell and Dennis Ogbe did a solid job. Caldwell netted 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds to pace TTU in its loss to the Tigers. Dennis Ogbe and Jordan Johnson each contributed 11 points in the losing effort. Ogbe, who averages team-high six rpg, also grabbed nine boards. Caldwell is the Golden Eagles' only player with a double-digit scoring average at 10.4 ppg. Samarrippas has shown he can create for others with 4.1 apg, but is hitting on only 37.3 percent of his shots from the field for 9.4 ppg. The senior tallied 16 points in the team's loss to Belmont on 5-of-8 efficiency from the floor before his final miss just before the buzzer.
The Bruins were lucky to escape their last outing with a win, but they should be able to avoid another dramatic ending in this one. TTU is out of sync offensively and Belmont is capable of lighting up any defense in the nation. Byrd's team has been a dominant force in the OVC since its entry in 2012 and its reign of terror should continue in Cookeville.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 83, Tennessee Tech 71
02/01 10:14:27 ET