Sept. 2, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech opens its first season under new head coach Josh Pastner Nov. 11 against Tennessee Tech at McCamish Pavilion. This is the first in a series of previews of the Yellow Jackets’ non-conference opponents.
TENNESSEE TECH GOLDEN EAGLES
Date: November 11, 2016
Location: Cookeville, Tenn.
Home arena: Hooper Eblen Center (7,500)
2015-16 Record: 19-12 overall, 11-5 in OVC (t-2nd), 139th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: lost in the quarterfinals of the Vegas 16 Tournament
All-time series record: Georgia Tech leads, 3-0 (first meeting 12/14/1978)
Head coach: Steve Payne (entering 6th season, 79-77)
Starters returning/lost: 1/4
Top scorer returning: Aleksa Jugovic (12.1)
Top rebounder returning: Courtney Alexander II (2.7)
Quick preview for 2016-17
Although Tennessee Tech loses its top scorer, rebounder and shot blocker to graduation and a fourth starter to transfer, Aleksa Jugovic, the one returning first stringer, brings a swiss-army knife skill set. The Serbian guard led the team in three-point shooting (42.0 percent), steals (26) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.85). The junior has started all 61 games of his career and will be the centerpiece of the offense. Teaming up with Jugovic in the backcourt is senior Hakeem Rogers, who displayed breakout potential with three 20-point performances last season. Experience in the post is scarce with expected rotation of Mason Ramsey, Courtney Alexander II and JaCardo Hawkins having made one career start combined.
Quick recap of 2015-16
The Golden Eagles reached their first postseason since the 2012 CIT and competed in the inaugural Vegas 16 tournament. Tennessee Tech finished the year with a 19-12 record, including a loud 14-1 mark on its home floor. The 266 made three-pointers were just 13 shy of breaking the school record set in the 1999-00 season. The Golden Eagles also ranked first in the Ohio Valley in free throw shooting (74.3 percent) and defensive rebounding (26.1 per game). Senior Torrance Rowe ranked second in the Ohio Valley in scoring (18.2 ppg) while teammate Ryan Martin’s 8.2 boards per game were fourth in the league. A third senior, Anthony Morse, led the conference in blocked shots per game at 1.9.
Greatest program accomplishment
2002 NIT Quarterfinals – Tennessee Tech’s postseason history may not carry a novel, but it does feature one glorious chapter. The Golden Eagles are just 3-7 all-time in postseason play, but they won three tournament games in a row in the 2002 NIT. The 2001-02 squad featured six seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and no freshmen. Loaded with experience, Tennessee Tech went 15-1 in conference play before falling to Murray State, 70-69, in the OVC Tournament. Although they did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament, the veterans took the NIT by storm winning their first three games in seven days against Georgia State, Dayton and Yale. Tennessee Tech challenged Memphis in the quarterfinals, but Coach John Calipari’s Tigers edged Cinderella, 79-73, on their way to the NIT title. Since then, Tennessee Tech has lost each of their last three postseason games including last year’s 75-59 loss to Old Dominion in the Vegas 16.
Greatest player in program history
Jimmy Hagan – Jimmy Hagan is still the highest draft pick to ever be selected out of Tennessee Tech after the Minneapolis Lakers chose Hagan 18th overall in 1960. The 6-10, 215-pound center holds the school record for career rebounds with 1,108, despite only competing in Cookeville for three seasons. Hagan’s 21.1 points per game average also puts him at the top of the school’s leaderboard. In 1957-58, Hagan’s first year of eligibility as a sophomore, Tennessee Tech reached its first-ever NCAA tournament. The two-time All-OVC selection is one of four Golden Eagles to have his number retired and the only to average a double-double throughout his career.
Place to visit on campus or in the city
Appalachian Center for Craft – Administered by Tennessee Tech University, the Appalachian Center for Craft boasts more than 100 workshops each year in blacksmithing, clay, fibers, glass, metals and wood, drawing, painting and photography. The 500-acre facility overlooks Center Hill Lake, one of three manmade lakes surrounding Cookeville. The Craft Center also hosts up to 25 exhibitions every year featuring regional, national and international artists.