Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State men's basketball team will look to enter next week's OVC Tournament with some positive momentum by ending the regular season with a home win over Eastern Kentucky on Mar. 2 for "Senior Day".
The Tigers (16-13, 10-5 OVC) have had a tough time in the Gentry Center lately, dropping a pair of contests by a combined three points.
In TSU's latest, 101-100, defeat at the hands of Morehead State, TSU couldn't quite overcome a 20-point second half deficit even though Kellen Thornton ended up with a career-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting and four rebounds.
Thornton is now averaging 16.2 points per contest against conference opponents and his 135 boards in league play is second in the OVC.
Robert Covington finished the Morehead State game with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting including a 4-of-6 mark from downtown. The senior also had a team-high eight boards.
The forward is scoring 16.3 points and grabbing 6.9 rebounds in the seven games since returning from injury earlier this year. He was averaging 17.7 and 7.7 before the injury.
Patrick Miller had a chance to put Thursday's game into overtime, but his buzzer-beating three went strong. The junior guard finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting and five assists.
Miller also played 38 minutes against the Eagles, moving him to second place in the OVC with 1030 minutes played this season.
Tennessee State's 100 points on Thursday night were its most in a regulation game since defeating Miles College, 109-92, in 2008, but its 101 points allowed were the most given up at home since losing to Eastern Kentucky, 109-83, in 2003.
The defeat means that the Tigers will have to settle with the No. 4 seed in the upcoming OVC Tournament and receive a first-round bye. TSU could get another chance at defeating Morehead State in the second round if the Eagles defeat their first-round opponent.
First, the Tigers will have to tangle with the Colonels of EKU who come into Saturday's contest with a 23-7 overall record and a 12-4 mark in the conference.
EKU will be the No. 3 seed in the OVC Tournament thanks to strong play from Mike DiNunno (15.1 ppg), Glenn Cosey (15.1 ppg) and Corey Walden (12.6 ppg). The members of the trio all rank inside the top-20 on the OVC's scoring list.
The Colonels have been playing well defensively and efficiently on offense all year and currently rank second in the league in both opponent points per game (64.0) and shooting percentage (47.6 percent).
TSU is 23-27 all-time against EKU and lost this season's previous meeting, 76-67. The Tigers won the last time at home, 91-85, in two overtimes.
The Tigers and Colonels tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night and it will be the last home game for Covington, Jordan Cyphers, Tashan Fredrick and Thornton. The matchup can be seen on the OVC Digital Network or heard on 102.1 FM.