BY JEFF BORZELLO
It’s not a big surprise when a team embodies its coach’s personality, but Tennessee Tech has taken it to a new level.
Golden Eagles head coach Mike Sutton has been recovering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome since 2005, and it still clearly affects him. A recent symptom flare-up caused him to miss a road trip a couple of weeks ago.
Throw in the fact that second-leading scorer Jud Dillard is out indefinitely while suffering from a stress reaction, and not many people gave Tech a chance against first-place Austin Peay on the road Wednesday night.
The Golden Eagles were focused, though, and knocked off the Governors, 71-68, on a Zac Swansey 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left.
“Swansey has always made big plays throughout his career and when the game’s on the line, we trust the ball in his hands,” Sutton told FOXSports.com after the game. “He has earned that.”
Tennessee Tech has now won seven of its last 10 games, moving to 5-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference, just one game back of APU and Tennessee State in the standings.
“It’s a testament of the high-character kids we have,” assistant coach Russ Williemsen said. “If we had bad kids, it would be harder.”
If the Golden Eagles continue to show even half the resolve that their head coach has demonstrated for the past six years, not many teams will be able to out-tough them – even in the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s the rest of the night that was in college hoops:
FOXSports.com Stud of the Night: Indiana has won just one road game during Tom Crean’s tenure, but the Hoosiers had Wisconsin on the ropes Wednesday night. Jordan Taylor wouldn’t let it happen, though. The junior guard scored a career-high 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field, and also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists.
Maybe he’s a PG after all: With Abdul Gaddy injured and Venoy Overton’s minutes fluctuating, Washington guard Isaiah Thomas has taken the floor general reins on a full-time basis. The scoring whiz dropping 13 dimes against California (and scoring 27 points), Thomas followed that up with a tremendous all-around effort against Arizona, finishing with 22 points, six rebounds and 10 assists in an 85-71 win.
Dud: Maryland and Virginia Tech faced off Wednesday in a battle to essentially keep at-large hopes alive in the ACC. Well, only one of the teams showed up. On its home court, Maryland completely laid an egg, shooting 35.7 percent from the field and turning it over 16 times in a 74-57 blowout loss to the Hokies. Virginia Tech opened the game with 12 consecutive points and never trailed. Erick Green led the Hokies with 24 points.
Mid-Major Stud: Gonzaga has been struggling a bit with some of the lesser West Coast Conference teams this season, and Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster made sure the Bulldogs finally lost one. The sophomore guard had 36 points, three rebounds and five assists to lead the Broncos to an 85-71 win over the Zags. Foster hit six 3-pointers and was 11-for-20 from the field overall.
Stat of the Night: Florida’s 45-40 win over Auburn was absolutely brutal to watch, but the Gators were able to pull it out after back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minutes from Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. With that said, the offensive output was historically bad by the Gators. It was Florida’s lowest point total since head coach Billy Donovan took over the program in 1996, and was also the fewest points the Gators have scored in a win since 1962.
Upset of the Night: Apparently Zac Swansey wasn’t the only one hitting game-winning shots on the road in the Ohio Valley last night. Eastern Illinois guard Jeremy Granger nailed a jumper with three seconds left to give the Panthers a 61-60 win over league favorite Murray State. Granger finished with 18 points, while Murray State dropped to 5-3 in the conference.
On Tap: Not much going on tonight, although Butler will attempt to keep pace with Valparaiso in the Horizon against Wisconsin-Green Bay, while Lipscomb and East Tennessee State battle for second-place in the Atlantic Sun behind Belmont.