Prior to the season beginning, the Mocs were the heavy favorites against Hiwassee and the pretty substantial underdogs against Wisconsin and Butler.
This was the first game on the schedule that was truly a toss up. The Mocs and the Golden Eagles are two teams that are both searching to prove that they belong in their conference title chase. This is the Mocs opportunity to make an early statement.
Tennessee Tech pounded Piedmont Internationl in the opener by the score of 83-29. Then the Golden Eagles went on the road against USC and lost 70-58.
The Golden Eagles big front line is going to present a challenge to the young Mocs front line. Justin Tuoyo, Duke Ethridge and Chuck Ester are going to be playing just their fourth D1 basketball game. Lance Stokes is the other inside presence. This team needs to get solid performances out of these guys because the Tennessee Tech bigs are coming.
Dwan Caldwell is averaging 16.5 points and five rebounds per contest. Charles Jackson is averaging eleven points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Caldwell and Jackson are tall and large. They are going to be very difficult for the Mocs to contain. If the Mocs can't take care of them in the paint, they will have a difficult time winning.
Of course, the most impressive thing about what Tennessee Tech has done so far this year has to be when they held Piedmont International to 15.1% shooting. Not that Piedmont is a good team, but that is almost unheard of. They also held USC to 44.7% shooting. With how much the Mocs have been struggling shooting the ball, this is going to be a second very difficult challenge for the Mocs to undertake against the Golden Eagles.
Tennessee Tech struggled shooting against USC. They shot 1 of 18 from three point range against the Trojans and made just 33.8% from the floor. They only made 26.7% from long distance against Piedmont and 45.85 from the floor.
Shirmane Thomas has not made a three this year, but made 43.5% a year ago. He may need to knock in a couple of threes in this one to stretch out the defense.
What gives the Mocs problems typically? Quick guards that can exploit their pressure defense. That does not seem to be what Tennessee Tech has. They are a solid team, particularly on the inside and on the defensive end of the ball. Casey Jones, Tre McLean and Rico White will need to cause some Chaos in the backcourt.
The Mocs will have trouble inside and could have problems scoring the ball. This is going to be a tough offensive match-up for the Mocs. But this is a game they are prepared to win. They will force the Golden Eagles into some turnovers that will lead to some easy baskets and that's the key that will the Mocs to a nice road win. Mocs 61, Golden Eagles 56.