COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 17, 2003) -- In the first matchup between in-state rivals East Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech since 1983, the Bucs snapped the Golden Eagles' 23-game home non-conference winning streak with a 77-70 victory Wednesday night from Eblen Center in Cookeville, Tenn.
The two teams have now played 65 times since their initial meeting in 1923, most of those when both schools were members of the Ohio Valley Conference. Following this evening's ETSU (6-2, 1-0 Southern Conference) win, Tennessee Tech (4-3) leads the closely-contested series 33-32.
The Bucs trailed 38-36 at the half, but stormed out to a 56-45 lead with a 20-7 run to begin the second stanza. Senior forward Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) capped the run with a layup with 13:36 remaining in the game.
East Tennessee State would never trail for the rest of the game, but Tennessee Tech would threaten late. The Golden Eagles trimmed the ETSU lead to 68-65 with 2:49 left in the game, but the Bucs held on for the win.
Sophomore forward Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) led the Bucs with 19 points and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Wadood turned in another excellent all-around performance with 17 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. His double-double this evening was the 21st of his ETSU career.
Senior forward Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.) became the 23rd ETSU player to reach 1,000 points in his career as he scored 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds. He is the second player to reach the milestone in the last two games, as Wadood went over 1,000 against Clemson Monday night.
Sophomore point guard Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.) added 12 points and five assists, while junior guard Sam Oatman (Neenah, Wis.) dished out five assists in the win.
The Bucs return home Saturday afternoon to face UVA-Wise at 2:30 p.m. from Memorial Center in the second half of a men's-women's doubleheader. The ETSU Lady Bucs play Southern Conference foe Wofford at Noon in the first game of the day.