January 30, 2012

Murphy Leads Tennessee Tech Past Cougars

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Five SIUE players scored in double figures Monday, but it wasn't enough to overcome one Tennessee Tech player. TTU's Kevin Murphy scored 50 points to lead the Golden Eagles to a 98-80 win over the visiting Cougars in Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball.

Murphy was 16 of 21 from the floor, including 6 of 9 from three-point range, and 12 of 14 at the free throw line. His 50 points set a Tennessee Tech school record, and are the most scored by a single player this year in Division I.

"Our defense was poor tonight," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "We didn't do a great job of containing Murphy. Give credit to him, he's very explosive offensively. Our guys were soft on him to where he was shooting jump shots."

"He made some tough shots, which we knew he could do," Forrester continued. "I thought Kevin Stineman did well on him down the stretch in the second half, but he's a phenomenal player. He had a great night and we were poor defensively."

Jerome Jones led SIUE with a career-high 25 points. Jones was 7 of 17 from the field and 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Mark Yelovich added 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his third double-double this year and the fifth of his career. Derian Shaffer and Kris Davis each scored 11 points and Stineman added 10 points. For Shaffer it was the third consecutive game he has scored in double figures.

SIUE, now 5-14 overall and 3-7 in the OVC, has lost six consecutive games. The Cougars held their own early on, pushing their lead to as many as four on several occasions. A jumper by Yelovich tied the score, 23-23 with 8:38 left in the first half when the Golden Eagles made a run. TTU outscored SIUE 25-10 the rest of the half to take a 48-33 lead into the break. The Golden Eagles didn't let up after halftime either, using an 11-3 advantage to take a 59-36 lead into the first media timeout.

TTU, now 14-9 overall and 6-4 in the OVC, led by as many as 24 three times, the last time when Zac Bailey converted a layup to make it 65-41 with 14:19 left in the game. Bailey finished with nine points. Javon McKay was the only other Golden Eagle to score in double figures. McKay had 15.

The Golden Eagles shot 55 percent (33-60) as a team, while SIUE shot just 42.2 percent (27-64). The Golden Eagles outrebounded SIUE 40-35. For the Cougars, it was just the third time this season they have scored 80 or more points in a game. Forrester said it wasn't about offense.

"Like I told our guys during timeouts it's not on the offensive end, it's on the defensive end," he said. "We couldn't get stops on the defensive end. The result is we lost the game by 18 and Murphy had 50."

SIUE returns home to host Morehead State Thursday night at the Vadalabene Center.

"(Morehead State) is never easy," Forrester said. " They play hard and they are going to do a lot of different things against us so we need to be strong with the basketball."

Tipoff Thursday is scheduled for 7 p.m.