Nashville, Tenn. - After notching the team's biggest win since the 199-7-98 season, the Tennessee State men's basketball team will travel to Middle Tennessee State on Dec. 18 for the sides' 56th meeting.
In the Tigers' 79-39 win over Lemoyne-Owen, Robert Covington made big play after big play en route to a career-high 31 points while Patrick Miller led the offense with eight assists.
The game boosted Covington's points per game average to 17.5, putting him in fourth place in the conference. Miller's dishes against the Magicians now gives him 70 on the season which is 22 assists higher than anyone else in the Ohio Valley Conference.
"Our program needs consistency, and Rob and Pat provide that," head coach Travis Williams said. "They are two leaders of this team and we need both of those guys to step up against teams the caliber of Middle Tennessee State."
TSU (5-6) will need strong play from everyone on the team when they travel to Murfreesboro to take on the Blue Raiders. TSU holds a 16-39 record all-time in the rivalry, and haven't defeated the Blue Raiders since 1998.
"This has been an exciting rivalry over the years, but our program needs to win some of the games now to move forward. We aren't afraid to play anyone, as evident by our non-conference schedule, but we just need to play the way we are capable," Williams said.
On the court, MTSU is led by senior guard Marcos Knight who averages a team-high 12.4 points and also tallies 5.2 boards per contest.
However, the hallmark of this year's Blue Raider squad is defense. The team currently leads the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense (61.7 ppg) and rebounding defense (32.2 rpg) while ranking second in three-point percentage defense (29.3%).
"Middle Tennessee State will play a tough, physical style of basketball. They will try to keep us on our heels and MTSU's Murphy Center is a tough place to play," Williams said.
Middle Tennessee State is 19-2 at home during the last two seasons and is currently ranked No. 11 in the CIT Mid Major Poll. Tuesday's game will pit TSU against its fifth nationally ranked opponent so far this season.
"One great thing about college basketball is that anyone is capable of winning on any given night... But the team that wins the game tomorrow will be the team that is more physical and makes better decisions," Williams said.
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