Southeast Missouri State (15-15) vs. Tennessee Tech (18-12) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The fifth-seeded Southeast Missouri State Redhawks will try to keep the ball rolling tonight in the Ohio Valley Conference quarterfinal round as they battle the fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles for a trip to the semifinals.
SEMO and TTU had the same record in OVC play when the regular season concluded. The Golden Eagles were awarded a first round bye due to their 77-62 victory over the Redhawks on Jan. 21 in the only head-to-head battle between the programs of the season. TTU's triumph in the contest extended its all-time series lead versus SEMO to 30-13.
The Redhawks snapped a four-game losing streak and evened their record up at 15-15 on Wednesday with their 75-65 victory over Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the conference tourney. Coach Dickey Nutt had to be pleased with his team's performance in the first round, as SEMO held a 44-33 advantage in the rebounding battle and shot 49.1 percent from the floor in the victory. The Redhawks, who lead the OVC in distributing, dished out 17 assists.
Marland Smith scored 20 points to lead the team while Tyler Stone provided a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Redhawks. Leon Powell also chipped in a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds on Wednesday. Lucas Nutt did a great job of controlling the game and getting his teammates involved as he handed out 11 assists in the win over EKU. Stone averages team- highs of 14.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. If Nutt continues to slice defenses with his precision passing, he might become the x-factor for SEMO. Nutt's 11 assists in the first round game matches his total from his previous five combined.
The Golden Eagles finished fourth in the OVC with a 9-7 league record after they came up just short of handing Murray State its second loss and suffered a 69-64 setback to the Racers. Despite the loss, TTU had to gain confidence after it had the nationally ranked Racers down 10 points at one point. The Golden Eagles their season-high of 10 made three-pointers, which they had set in their previous contest in their BracketBusters victory over Coastal Carolina. Head coach Steve Payne has an up-tempo coaching style, which has TTU second in the OVC in scoring at 72.9 ppg.
The Golden Eagles' attack revolves around its star shooting guard Kevin Murphy. The 6-6 senior is leading the OVC in scoring with 20.6 ppg. Murphy ended the season with a 26-point outing which was powered by 7-of-12 shooting from three-point range against Murray State. Murphy, who scored an NCAA Division I season-high 50 points earlier this year, seems to have gotten his swagger back just in time for the OVC Tournament. Defenses have not been able to key on Murphy, as Jud Dillard is garnering the opposition's attention as well. Dillard is fourth in the conference in scoring with 18.0 ppg while leading the OVC in rebounding with 8,7 rpg despite being a 6-4 guard.
TTU should be well rested after having a first-round bye on Wednesday. The Golden Eagles' dynamic duo is a little too much for most OVC opponents to handle. SEMO will need to somehow shut down Murphy in order to advance. However, that is easier said than done.
GAME NOTES: The fifth-seeded Southeast Missouri State Redhawks will try to keep the ball rolling tonight in the Ohio Valley Conference quarterfinal round as they battle the fourth-seeded Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles for a trip to the semifinals.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Municipal Auditorium (8,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: OVCSports.TV. Home Record: SEMO 10-4, TTU 9-5. Away Record: SEMO 4-11, TTU 7-7. Neutral Record: SEMO 1-0, TTU 2-0. Conference Record: SEMO 9-7, TTU 9-7. Series Record: Tennessee Tech leads 30-13.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 1st, 7 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Tennessee Tech 76, SE Missouri State 71