NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State men’s basketball team continues the meat of its conference schedule when they play host to Eastern Division leader Belmont on Saturday.
Tennessee State (2-18, 1-5) will once again lean on do everything point guard Patrick Miller. The Chicago native is averaging 22.2 points per contest. Miller’s points per game average is the 10th best mark in all of Division I hoops.
In Ohio Valley Conference play Miller has elevated his average for 24.8 points a night. The senior pairs his lofty scoring numbers with 3.0 thefts per game
Down low TSU is paced by junior M.J. Rhett. On the year the Tigers big man is putting in 10.4 points and pulling down 9.7 rebounds per contest. Rhett has compiled 10 double doubles this season, which is the fourth best total in the country.
Senior Jacquan Nobles has come on as the conference slate heats up. The sharpshooter is hitting 47 percent of his 3-point attempts, which ranks eighth in the conference. On average the Greenville, N.C. native is drilling 2.3 threes a contest in OVC play.
A big difference in conference play is the Tigers ability to crash the boards offensively. Against OVC foes Tennessee State has pulled down an average of 12.2 boards per contest, which is the second best mark in the league. TSU also ranks tied for first in offensive rebounding percentage at 35.1 percent.
Belmont (12-7, 4-1) comes into Saturday’s matchup off of a loss to Eastern Kentucky on Thursday. The loss marked the first time the Bruins lost to a conference foe since last year’s Feb. 14 matchup with TSU at the Gentry Center.
In that contest then senior Robert Covington scored 25 points to lead four starters scoring in double figures. Belmont countered with all five starters in double figures in the 80-69 loss.
This season’s edition of the Bruins features preseason All-OVC selection J.J. Mann. The senior guard ranks in the ten top of five statistical categories in the Ohio Valley; including points per game (16.4), free-throw percentage (88.6 percent), steals per game (2.3) and minutes played per game (33.8).
The offensive attack doesn’t end with Mann, the Bruins have six players averaging 8.2 points per contest or more. As a team the Bruins possess the second highest offensive average in the conference at 79.6 points a night.
Belmont’s offensive effort is aided by its shooting ability, from the field the Bruins are connecting on 50 percent of their shots on the year. From beyond the arch Rick Byrd’s team is hitting on a 40 percent average. Both shooting marks are tops in the Ohio Valley.
The weekend game will mark the 20th meeting between the two Nashville schools, with Belmont leading the series 11-8. Both teams will square off as conference foes for just the fourth time after Belmont joined the OVC a year ago.
Saturday’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Gentry Center. The contest is the first two matchups against Belmont (12-7, 4-1), with the second meeting set for Feb. 13 at the Curb Event Center.