NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A furious comeback came up just short and the Tennessee State men’s basketball team fell at Jacksonville State, 70-64, on Thursday night.
The Tigers were down by 19 with 3:03 left in the first half, but could only get as close as six.
Patrick Miller led the Tigers in scoring with 21 points for his 13th 20-plus point game of the season. The senior also added six rebounds.
Redshirt Junior M.J. Rhett recorded his 10th double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 boards.
Tennessee State (2-18, 1-5 OVC) fell behind, 23-9, through the game’s first nine minutes as the Gamecocks made eight of their first 11 shots from the floor (73 percent). JSU also had zero turnovers during the span.
JSU (9-12, 3-3 OVC) padded its lead to 18 with a Brian Williams free throw at the 6:43 mark, making the score 30-12. The bucket came off of the Gamecock’s fourth offensive and 13th total rebound of the contest.
The Tigers had five boards through the first 15 minutes, but tallied eight through the last five, helping them narrow the gap to 39-22 at the break.
Rhett led TSU with eight points and six rebounds during the first stanza, but TSU was 5-for-11 from the charity stripe (45 percent). JSU meanwhile, made 8-of-10.
Tennessee State was a different team early in the second period as Miller had a breakaway slam at the 17:29 mark to cap a 6-0 TSU run. The one-handed dunk made the score 39-28 in favor of the home team.
The Tigers cut the Gamecock lead to six at 47-41 when Jay Harris hit a pair of free throws with 7:25 to go. The buckets gave TSU a 9-for-10 mark at the charity stripe to start the second frame.
Strong work on the defensive end also allowed TSU to come back as the Gamecocks were held to a 2-for-19 line (10.5 percent) through the half’s first 12 minutes.
The Tigers were down by nine with 2:11 to go, but Jacquan Nobles hit his only bucket of the game – a three – to make the score 59-53.
Six points proved to be the closest that the Tigers would get as the Gamecocks made 9-of-12 freebies down the stretch to win the game, 70-64.
TSU committed 11 turnovers on the night, leading to 19 JSU points.
True freshman Ugo Mmonu tied a career high with eight points and added three blocks, the second-most by a Tiger this season.
Tennessee State will come back to Nashville to host its crosstown rival Belmont on Saturday. Tipoff between the Tigers and Bruins is slated for 7:30 p.m.