NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Tuesday, the Tennessee State men’s basketball team played its final non-conference game of the regular season, falling to Middle Tennessee State 74-66.
Patrick Miller led the Tigers in scoring for the 15th time this season, totaling 22 points on 6-of-18 shooting. The senior made all seven of his attempts from the free throw line.
M.J. Rhett posted his eighth double-double of the campaign with 10 points and a game-high 12 boards.
Tennessee State (2-15, 1-2 OVC) had a season-high eight blocks and outrebounded MTSU (10-5, 0-0 C-USA) 42 to 37.
The Tigers were held scoreless for the first three and a half minutes of the contest allowing the Blue Raiders to take an early five-point lead. Miller finally ended the drought with a three, but MTSU countered with a triple of its own on the very next possession to make the score 8-3 after the first media timeout.
Through the game’s first 10 minutes, the Tigers were outshooting MTSU 36 to 32 percent, but TSU had seven more turnovers (7-0) and trailed on the scoreboard 16-9.
From that point, the Blue Raiders went on a 14-2 run that put the visitors ahead, 30-11 with just over six minutes to play before halftime. Miller finally ended the run with a triple for his 10th point of the game.
Over the course of the next three minutes, the Tigers scored 13 of the period’s 15 points, pulling within eight of the MTSU lead. Strong shooting at the free throw line fueled the stretch as TSU was 6-for-6 from the stripe.
Miller missed a three-pointer at the end of the half, and TSU went into the locker room trailing, 39-28.
The Tigers won the battle of the boards during the first 20 minutes, 21 to 16, but committed 10 turnovers while forcing just two.
TSU was down by 10 with 17:22 to go when Miller received a pass, drove into the lane and dunked right over MTSU’s Neiko Hunter who picked up a personal foul (view the dunk below begining at the 1:14 mark).
Miller drained the ensuing free throw and Jamonte Graham canned a layup on the Tigers’ next series to make the score 43-38.
The Blue Raiders countered with seven straight points, but an 8-0 TSU run later in the half pulled the Tigers within four at 54-50. Jay Harris swooshed a three at the 9:11 mark to cap the stretch.
The Tigers were down by seven with just over two minutes to go when Graham nailed a triple to make the score 64-60 in favor of the Blue Raiders.
TSU played hard down the stretch, but MTSU made 10-of-12 freebies to walk away with a 74-66 victory.
The Tigers never led and finished with 16 turnovers while forcing three.
TSU will return to OVC play on the road when the squad travels to Southeast Missouri on Saturday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.