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Tennessee Tech is waking up this morning having shot 62.5% from the field, and they lost.

That’s how Jeff Bidwell introduced our short discussion about the Skyhawks, and to an extent, the Golden Eagles on The Jeff Bidwell show this morning. Tennessee Tech scored 90 points, hitting 10 threes, held UT Martin to zero fast-break points, just 10 points off turnovers…and lost.

UT Martin’s offense, while not the highest scoring in the OVC, was efficient. 16-25 from three-point range, which they were in a big win at home, is quite efficient. But that 96-point of night is more the exception for the rule.

Tennessee Tech’s 62.5% shooting night…isn’t even their best in conference play.

Tennessee Tech is waking up this morning having shot 62.5% from the field, and they lost.

The Golden Eagles opened OVC play more on the last night of 2015 with a 94-point performance, off 62.7% shooting, and hit 12 three’s on their way to a 94-84 win over Eastern Illinois. They’ve hit better than 50% from the field in four of their five conference games, (only Murray State held TTU below that mark) which is why they lead the league with 56.4% shooting in conference play. That’s better than Belmont (50.3%) and better than EKU, (46.8%) who are widely believed to be the two best offenses in the East.

Momentum, even following a loss on the road against the Skyhawks, is in the Golden Eagles favor.

History is not.

Dating back to 2002, three teams have finished conference play with an eFG% greater than 60%. (eFG counts a made three-point shot as 1.5 made shots, due to a three being worth more than a two. It’s sometimes called “true shooting percentage”) Belmont did it in back-to-back years, edging above 60% in both the 2012-13 season and the 2013-14 season, also known as the Ian Clark / JJ Mann years, two just great shooters. The only other…doesn’t play in the OVC any more: Samford had a 62.3% eFG% back in 2005, playing that terrible-to-watch-but-effective Princeton offense.

Tennessee Tech’s eFG% in the OVC is 65.6% through five games. In that UT Martin game Wednesday, it was 71.4% The odds of that number being sustained for 11 more games is probably pretty close to that Powerball jackpot you didn’t win.

History isn’t the only thing against TTU. They’ve benefited by playing five teams in the West Division, some of whom don’t have a lot of great things going for them defensively. They haven’t played Morehead State, the OVC’s by-and-far leader in defensive efficiency, (82nd nationally) who they must play twice, or Eastern Kentucky, who rank just outside the top 25 in forced turnovers, who they must play twice. Or Tennessee State, who are holding conference opponents to an average of 62 points a game.

The odds of that number being sustained for 11 more games is probably pretty close to that Powerball jackpot you didn’t win.

…and they play them twice. Simply put, the Golden Eagles schedule is backloaded with tougher teams with better records.

Their hot shooting is also much more a recent development, not a season-long trend. TTU’s eFG% for the season is a strong 52.4%, but that’s a far cry from their conference number.

This isn’t to say Tennessee Tech offense isn’t good. It’s quite good actually. Torrence Rowe (pictured above) has transformed from role-player with questionable jump shooting to a star. Ryan Martin doesn’t have the name recognition of an Evan Bradds or Chris Horton, but he’s one of the best low-post options in the conference. At the end of this season, Tennessee Tech has a chance to join that small club of teams who shot the lights out against the OVC.

Two of those teams, both Bruins, won the OVC. The other finished fourth…the same year of TTU’s last Ohio Valley Conference title.

Tennessee Tech, this season, has one of the most talented teams head coach Steve Payne has ever had. But no team, not from the Isaiah Cannan years, the Kenneth Faried or the Lester Hudson or the Ian Clark or the Cameron Payne years was that good on offense for that long. TTU won’t be either.

Murray State's eFG% was just 54.6% during the Racers 31-2 season.

Murray State’s eFG% was just 54.6% during the Racers 31-2 season in 2011-12, despite Isaiah Cannan shooting 45.6% from three-point range for the season. It’s just slightly higher than their 54.3% eFG% last season.

No one will remember that if they win the conference title.

…and they’ve got every bit of the talent they need to do just that.


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OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11


2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall

EAST

Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19

WEST

UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24


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