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Tennessee Tech Preview

Tennessee Tech Preview

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball returns to game action Thursday at Tennessee Tech.

The Bruins defeated UT Martin, 89-69, Jan. 9. Freshman JaCobi Wood (Cleveland, Tenn.) scored a career-high tying 21 points in 22 minutes. The dynamic playmaker has been named OVC Freshman of the Week twice, has posted 10 double figure scoring games and leads the OVC in scoring among freshmen (13.1 ppg).
 
Junior Nick Muszynski (Pickerington, Ohio) recorded his 65th career double figure scoring game vs. UT Martin with 11 points, including his first 3-pointer of the season. The 6-11 center is a two-time First Team All-OVC selection. Muszynski scored a season-high 26 points vs. Southeast Missouri, and is on pace to challenge Evan Bradds' NCAA Division I era career scoring record (1,921 points).

Junior Grayson Murphy (Franklin, Tenn.) has continued his astounding rebounding rate from last season. After leading the nation in rebounding from the point guard position, Murphy has already recorded three double figure rebounding games this season, including two of his 11 career double-doubles. The reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Year ranks second in the OVC in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and is on pace to threaten OVC career records in assists and steals. Murphy had nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists vs. UT Martin.

Sophomore Ben Sheppard (Atlanta, Ga.) had seven points vs. UT Martin. Sheppard was named OVC Player of the Week Jan. 4. The 6-6 guard made 32 game appearances last season, emerging as a valuable two-way player for Belmont.
 
Junior Luke Smith (Knoxville, Tenn.) had six points, four assists and three steals vs. UT Martin. Smith became the first player in Belmont's NCAA Division I era to score 100 or more points in his first five games.

The 6-0 guard leads the OVC in seven statistical categories, and ranks ninth in the league in scoring (14.8 ppg).

He ranks fifth nationally in steals and 3-point field goals.

Smith was named DC Paradise Jam Most Valuable Player and Dec. 14 became the first player in nearly three years to earn OVC Player of the Week and OVC Newcomer of the Week honors the same week.

The Belmont bench has been highly productive of late, scoring 115 points over the last three games. Wood, freshman Even Brauns (Iowa City, Iowa), sophomore EJ Bellinger (St. Peters, Mo.) and freshman Michael Shanks (Bentonville, Ark.) have each tallied new career highs in scoring during the stretch.
 
Former Belmont head coach Rick Byrd served as an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech from 1980-83.
 
This marks the 27th meeting between Belmont and Tennessee Tech, 17th in OVC play. Belmont won both meetings last season, 92-84 at Tennessee Tech and 65-62 at the Curb Event Center.

Belmont had six double figure scorers and handed out 24 assists on 30 made field goals in the victory at Tennessee Tech last season, while Muszynski averaged 21.0 points per game on 18-for-25 shooting in the two meetings.

Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. The live play-by-play can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.

Belmont at Tennessee Tech Game Notes

Belmont University men's basketball has earned postseason invitations 14 of the last 15 seasons, including nine berths to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have won 19 conference championships since 2006 - third-most nationally over that span (Gonzaga, Kansas). Belmont is one of only six NCAA Division I programs outside the Power 5 to post Top 100 rankings 10 consecutive seasons (BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's (CA), San Diego State, Wichita State). Belmont is one of only six NCAA Division I programs to win 19 or more games 15 consecutive seasons (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, San Diego State). Belmont University men's basketball boasts an NCAA-leading 17 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections since 2001 and is the only NCAA Division I program to make the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Honor Roll every year of existence