SIU Edwardsville (11-19) vs. Tennessee Tech (16-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 5, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Municipal Auditorium (8,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: OVC Digital. Home Record: SIU Edwardsville 9-5, Tennessee Tech 10-4. Away Record: SIU Edwardsville 2-12, Tennessee Tech 6-9. Neutral Record: SIU Edwardsville 0-2, Tennessee Tech 0-2. Conference Record: SIU Edwardsville 7-9, Tennessee Tech 9-7. Series Record: Tennessee Tech leads, 4-2.
GAME NOTES: The first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament gets underway with a matchup between the eighth-seeded SIU Edwardsville Cougars and the fifth-seeded Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.
The winner of this game will move on to the quarterfinal round to face the awaiting fourth-seeded Morehead State Eagles on Thursday.
SIU Edwardsville backed into the tournament after losing its last three games of the season, including a tight 78-74 defeat at the hands of Eastern Illinois on Saturday. The Cougars finished the season with a 7-9 record in conference play and narrowly beat out Austin Peay (6-10) for the final spot in the conference tourney.
Tennessee Tech finished the regular season strong, winning three of the team's last four games, including a valuable 91-84 victory over Morehead State Saturday. The Golden Eagles battled to a 9-7 record in conference play and finished in fourth place in the OVC East Division.
Tennessee Tech holds a slim 4-2 lead in the short all-time series history with SIUE. The two teams met just once during the regular season, which turned into a Golden Eagles' victory on their home court, 64-63.
Eastern Illinois jumped ahead of SIUE, 31-26, at the end of the first half in Saturday's season finale. The Cougars were able to shave one point off that deficit in the second period, but the Panthers did enough to simply fend off any comeback attempt the Cougars had in them. Donivine Stewart led SIUE in the contest with 15 points, adding four rebounds and six assists before fouling out. Tim Johnson and Keaton Jackson each chipped in 12 points in the loss, while Kris Davis added 11 points and Ray Lester tallied a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.
Stewart paced the Cougars this season in scoring, netting a team-high 12.2 ppg with 135 assists on the year. He was the only SIUE player to average a double- digit point total, though Jackson (9.3 ppg) and Davis (9.1 ppg) weren't far off. SIUE was near the bottom of the league in scoring defense, checking in at ninth place by giving up 76.3 ppg to opponents. Jackson led the team in rebounding with a 5.1 rpg average, and Stewart added his team-leading 135 assists and 46 steals to the fray.
Tennessee Tech jumped ahead of Morehead State by 10 points when the teams broke for the intermission, 46-36. The Eagles tried to survive and rally in the second frame, but came up short by seven points. Dwan Caldwell had a breakout game, in which he scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds to pace the Golden Eagles. He hit a perfect 15-of-15 from the free throw line in the win. Dennis Ogbe added 18 points, Jordan Johnson contributed 14 points and Jeremiah Samarrippas netted 10 with nine assists.
Ogbe paces the team with a 10.8 ppg average and a team-high 5.9 rpg. Caldwell chips in 10.7 ppg, and Samarrippas adds 10.3 ppg. Samarrippas dishes out a team-best 4.6 apg, and Landon Carter contributed 1.2 bpg for the Golden Eagles. Tennessee Tech's 72 ppg allowed is third best in the conference, but 72.3 ppg offense is ninth-best in the OVC this season. Tennessee Tech is one of two conference teams all season to defeat regular-season OVC title winner Belmont.
If the only meeting between these two teams during the regular season is any indicator, this first OVC Tournament matchup could be a thrilling one. Although this game is being played at a neutral location, it's located just 70 miles from the Tennessee Tech campus. SIU Edwardsville, just 2-12 on the road this season, could find this to be a very Eagles-friendly crowd. Expect the Eagles to come out strong and try to put SIUE away early.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee Tech 75, SIU Edwardsville 68
03/05 10:54:38 ET