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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Center (9,000) -- Cookeville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: EKU 15-1, Tennessee Tech 8-4. Away Record: EKU 7-6, Tennessee Tech 3-12. Neutral Record: EKU 0-0, Tennessee Tech 0-0. Conference Record: EKU 11-3, Tennessee Tech 4-10. Series Record: EKU leads, 69-56.
GAMES NOTES: The Eastern Kentucky Colonels will try to bounce back from their first loss this month when they visit the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles for an Ohio Valley Conference showdown at the Eblen Center Thursday night.
The Colonels had won six straight games before an 82-60 embarrassment against Valparaiso in BracketBusters play last weekend. Still, Eastern Kentucky is an impressive 22-7 overall which makes it one of three teams with at least 20 wins in the OVC. The Colonels enter this contest a game behind Belmont for the top spot in the East Division with an 11-3 mark. The Colonels finish up the regular season on Saturday against Tennessee State.
Tennessee Tech came out on top of its BracketBusters duel with UMKC in a 68-62 decision. The Golden Eagles have now posted back-to-back victories to improve their overall record to 11-16. The Golden Eagles are on the outside looking in of the OVC Tournament field as they are in last place in the East Division. However, they still control their own destiny. With two wins to close out the regular season, TTU will make the conference tournament.
Before the first meeting between these teams this season, Tennessee Tech had won four straight against Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels put an end to that streak with an 80-69 victory. That improved their all-time series lead to 69-56.
Eastern Kentucky was absolutely dominated by Valparaiso last Saturday. That was especially true on the interior as the Colonels had a 36-22 deficit in rebounds, while being outscored 44-24 in the paint. With the Crusaders scoring so many points close to the basket they managed to shoot 68.2 percent from the field.
The effort the Colonels put forth against Valparaiso was out of character. They managed to connect on just 38.3 percent from the floor which was well below their season average (.475). That shooting percentage is among the 25 best in the country, leading to a healthy 73.7 points per game, which ranks second in the OVC. A trio of double-figure scoring guards pace the Colonels, led by Mike DiNunno (15.4 ppg, 4.3 apg), who also serves as the team's best facilitator. Glenn Cosey (15.2 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Corey Walden (12.4 ppg) also provide offensive punch in the backcourt. However, the Colonels are weak up front as evidenced by their conference-worst rebounding (27.3 rpg).
In its win over UMKC, Tennessee Tech held the Kangaroos to just 38.6 percent shooting from the floor, while Jud Dillard poured in a game-high 20 points. Dennis Ogbe also had a productive game, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, while bringing in eight rebounds.
More often that not Dillard (19.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg) has been at the top of the score sheet for the Golden Eagles. The 6-foot-5 forward is the second best scorer in the OVC, while also ranking in the top five in the league in rebounds. Dillard has scored in double figures in all but two games this season, while reaching the 20-point plateau in each of the last two games. Ogbe (10.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg), who finishes on 61.2 percent from the field, is the only other double-figure scorer for the Golden Eagles. Without many scoring options the Golden Eagles have been one of the weaker offensive teams in the conference, ranking in the bottom three in points (64.9 pg), assists (11.9 pg) and field-goal percentage (.425).
Valparaiso already gave the OVC a blueprint on how to beat Eastern Kentucky by attacking the paint. However Tennessee Tech doesn't really have the type of size in the frontcourt to really give the Colonels enough trouble down low.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Kentucky 76, Tennessee Tech 70
02/28 10:37:41 ET