Nashville, Tenn. - A 14-0 run by Murray State to end the first half helped propel the Racers to a 80-62 victory over Tennessee State on Thursday evening in front of 10,125 at the Gentry Center.
Tennessee State (19-11, 11-5 Ohio Valley) couldn't find a sustainable run, leading by just one point midway through the first half. The Racers clipped 57 percent (26x46) shooting, while holding the Tigers to 23-of-57 for 40 percent.
TSU out-rebounded the Racers 36-to-24, but were limited to six assists and three blocks. The crowd of 10,125 at the Gentry Center was the largest ever for a basketball game and second behind non-graduation events. Stevie Wonder's concert in 1980 had 11,000-plus.
Junior forward Robert Covington notched 24 points and 15 rebounds - his 19th of his career. Kellen Thornton added 17 points and 10 rebounds, registering his first double-double of the year.
The Racers shot 63 percent in the first half and knocked down 12 triples to take a 45-28 lead at the break. Offensively, the Tigers were held to just 12 made baskets and no treys in the opening frame.
The Tigers struggled to find second half momentum as MSU went on a 12-2 lead to open up the game at 58-38.
Seniors Kenny Moore and Wil Peters closed out their illustrious careers at the Gentry Center on Thursday. Moore added seven points, while Peters made two. Peters logged over 3,400 minutes in his career, as Moore passed the 600-points plateau Thursday evening.
Thursday's loss snapped a nine-game win streak the longest for TSU since 1994-95. However, the Tigers are still the No. 2 seed in the OVC Tournament. The Big Blue receives a double-bye and plays in the semi-finals on March 3 at 8 p.m.
TSU HEAD COACH JOHN COOPER POST-GAME COMMENTS
(On going forward into the tournament)
I told our group that if you told me that we were going to have stretches where we win nine out of 10 games, that's pretty good. Having said that, we have two games to play if we want to realize our dreams.
(on the fan support)
It's like I said earlier about awakening some pride. It's been an interesting environment around here over the last couple of days. I've had people come up to me, and say, 'Thanks.' It's hard for me to hear that and take that. I don't play. I know I coach this group and we work and get at it, but I don't feel I deserve the credit. It's the kids in that locker room. That's who it is and that's who the thanks goes to. I have a good staff too, and they work their tails off and make me look good. I enjoy watching our guys like they do and enjoy this environment.
(on going forward into the tournament)
I told our group that if you told me that we were going to have stretches where we win nine out of 10 games, that's pretty good. Having said that, we have two games to play if we want to realize our dreams. We have to take care of our business on Friday night, and if we win that game, it'll be the first time we've won 20 games since 1979. That's a long time. So, there are things yet still to accomplish with this group.We'll come back, get together and get better as a group.
-- TSU TIGERS --