Nashville, Tenn. - After Saturday's 67-59 win over Eastern Illinois in the OVC opener, the Tennessee State men's basketball team will look to capture its first road conference victory on Thursday when the squad squares off against Tennessee Tech.
Against Eastern Illinois, junior guard Patrick Miller had a career-high 28 points on 7-of-8 shooting. He was also perfect from behind the three-point line (3-for-3) and free throw line (11-for-11).
His strong performance earned him his first conference player of the week award of his career.
Other key contributors in TSU's eight-point victory were seniors Kellen Thornton and Jordan Cyphers. Thornton was second on the team with 16 points and recorded his third double-double of the season by tallying a game-high 10 rebounds. Cyphers had 14 points and was TSU's main outside threat, nailing four three-point attempts.
The combination of Cyphers, Miller and Thornton accounted for 73 percent of TSU's points against the Panthers and 80 percent of the squad's attempts.
Tennessee State (7-7, 1-0 OVC) will need the trio of upperclassmen to continue to play at a high level to make up for the loss of Robert Covington who tore his meniscus on Dec. 16. Covington, who will miss 4-6 weeks, was the team leader in both points (209) and rebounds (92) before going down with the injury.
So far, TSU is 2-0 without Covington, but the team has yet to play on the road without him. The Tigers will be forced to do just that on Jan. 3 when they tangle with the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech.
TTU comes into the game with a 6-7 record, but the squad does boast one of the premier players in the OVC in Jud Dillard.
Dillard is currently the second leading scorer in the OVC, averaging 18.4 points per contest. The guard is also fifth in the conference in rebounds per game with 7.4.
However, Dillard had his third-lowest point output of the season (12) in the team's last game against Jacksonville State- a 62-83 loss. He was just 5-of-14 from the field and accumulated four fouls and five turnovers.
The Tennessee State Tigers are 24-28 all-time versus their in-state rivals, and seek win number 25 on Thursday in Cookeville. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on the OVC Digital Network.
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