College Basketball

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Tennessee Tech (13-14) at Tennessee-Martin (8-19)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 20, 8 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Elam Center (5,000) -- Martin, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: TT 9-4, UTM 5-6. Away Record: TT 4-8, UTM 3-13. Neutral Record: TT 0-2, UTM 0-0. Conference Record: TT 6-6, UTM 3-9. Series Record: Tenn Tech leads, 35-10.

GAME NOTES: The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles travel to meet their intrastate rivals the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks, in an Ohio Valley Conference tilt at the Elam Center.

Tennessee Tech lost at home to Morehead State last Saturday, 79-53. That snapped a three-game win streak by the Golden Eagles, and left them in fourth place in the OVC's East Division.

Sitting in last place in the West, the Skyhawks haven't been on the hardwood in over a week, last playing on Wednesday, Feb. 12, when they won at Southeast Missouri State. That victory ended a four-game skid for UTM.

This is the first meeting between these two teams this season. Tennessee Tech has won seven straight over UTM, including last year's 83-68 verdict in Cookeville, and it owns a 35-10 lead in the all-time series.

Jeremiah Samarrippas scored 11 points for the Golden Eagles in the recent loss to Morehead State, while Dennis Ogbe followed with 10 points. The Golden Eagles shot only 36.4 percent in the opening period and trailed, 34-24, at halftime. The second half was not any better for Tennessee Tech, as its shooting percentage dropped to just 33.3 percent. Meanwhile, Morehead State improved to 60 percent and coasted to victory.

Tennessee Tech ranks ninth in the OVC in scoring (71.2 ppg) and eighth in field goal percentage (.442). Ogbe (10.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Dwan Caldwell (10.2 ppg, 5.3 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 (9.4 ppg, 4.2 apg) could be scoring at a better rate, but he is only connecting on 37.3 percent of his field goal attempts. He does make up for the poor shooting to an extent, ranking among the top-10 in the OVC in assists.

Myles Taylor and Marshun Newell both poured in 18 points during the Skyhawks' win over SEMO. Taylor added eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks to his stat line for UTM, while Dee Oldham scored 13 points off the bench and Mike Liabo added 12. The Skyhawks took a 33-30 lead into the break after draining five 3-pointers compared to zero for the Redhawks. Trailing by one with just over five minutes remaining, UTM pulled away with a 7-0 run, and it shot 7- of-8 from the free-throw line in the final 52 seconds to seal the deal.

Defense has not been a priority for UTM this season. The Skyhawks are being lit up for 80.9 ppg on 52 percent shooting. Each of those marks is at the bottom of the league and is among the 10 worst in the country. They are also shooting the worst percentage from the field among all OVC teams (.420). Taylor (15.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Terence Smith (14.3 ppg) are the most potent offensive weapons on the roster. Liabo (12.9 ppg) and Newell (11.2 ppg) are also counted on, but neither shoots above 40 percent from the floor.

With the defensive struggles of the Skyhawks, even the low-scoring Golden Eagles should be able to put up some points. With Tech doing a better job of in its own zone, expect the visitors to go home with a victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee Tech 75, Tennessee-Martin 65

02/20 10:17:55 ET

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