Pivotal Players: Tech Defeats Eastern Illinois

As the hosting Golden Eagles (9-5, 1-0) declawed the Eastern Illinois University (3-10, 0-1)Panthers 94-84, there were three pivotal players for Tennessee Tech New Year’s Eve.

The deserved player of the game was Tennessee Tech shooting guard Aleksa Jugovic.

Jugovic drilled five triples and made all five free throws.  His team shot a staggering 54.2% from beyond the arc.  It was clear that Jugovic was in rhythm as he pump faked and stepped in to the mid-range.  He made all three shots inside the arc.

“He has always had a good mid-range game,” said Head Coach Steve Payne.  “We want him to shoot the ball, shoot the ball, shoot the ball.  He can drive better than people realize.  He is quicker than you realize.”

Jugovic capitalized on the early success from Tech’s pivot players.

Anthony Morse managed a great game.   He pounded home a powerful rebound dunk midway through the first half.

“I just saw Ryan coming down and I thought that if he misses I am going to get it,” said Morse.  “It is just playing for me.”

Morse ran the floor, rebounded and made a big impact today.

“Touches are cool if I get them, but I just like to rebound,” said Morse.  “Do what I can for my team.”

Morse finished with eight points, three blocks, and a career-high 14 rebounds.

“He is a good player,” said Coach Payne.  “He blocked three shots.  I thought he was fairly alert.  He is always a guy you can depend on.”

Judging by the minutes doled out Tennessee Tech will rely heavily on their starting five the next few months.

“I think Courtney Alexander can help us,” said Coach Payne.  “I think Mason Ramsey can help us.  Hakeem Rogers has had a few good games.  Once we get past that…I think Tre Hansbrough is a freshman that is going to be a good player.”

Bench help from Rogers, Ramsey, Alexander, and Hansbrough will be pleasantly welcomed.  But not required.

“We have to keep so many scorers on the floor,” said Coach Payne.  “There is a core group of our guys that have to be on the floor.”

The core made 27-43 from the field, in a sparkling shooting display to open OVC play.  The offense was direct but effective.  The 23 assists reveals how unselfish the team has become.  Both Aleksa and Torrance Rowe recorded seven assists.

The Lead Panther

For Eastern Illinois Trae Anderson outplayed the Tennessee Tech defenders with the savvy of a veteran.  He backed down while keeping his head up for options. Most of his successes came from powering into the paint.  Once in the danger zone, Anderson either scooped a reverse or drew a foul.  Anderson’s second half was amazing.

After the break Anderson scored 15 points and tugged down two rebounds.

When the double teams did come Anderson fed teammates for easy buckets.  His court vision only doubled the amount of problems he created.

“It was really just taking what the defense gave you,” said Anderson.

For EIU and Anderson the OVC goals have not changed.

“Win every game,” said Anderson.  “And make the tournament.”

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