Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State men's basketball team held on to defeat Southeast Missouri State, 81-69, on Saturday night.
The victory kept two streaks alive by winning the game as the Tigers improved to 5-0 in conference play and 6-0 inside the Gentry Center. TSU has now won 17 of its last 18 home games dating back to last season.
Kellen Thornton had a career-high 28 points in the victory (10-of-15) and tied a career-high with 16 boards.
Patrick Miller also had a strong game with 20 points (7-of-13) and five assists. Miller has now scored over 10 points in every game of TSU's six-game winning streak.
TSU (11-7, 5-0 OVC) started the game on an 11-4 run that featured three threes from Miller, Tashan Fredrick and Jordan Cyphers. The strong outside shooting helped the home squad drill nine of its first 12 field goals in the game (75 percent).
The Tigers eventually stretched the lead to 20-7 when Jordan Gaither poured in a contested jumper from the elbow. The score prompted SEMO head coach Dickey Nutt to call the team's first timeout of the contest.
The stoppage in play did little to slow down the Tigers, as Thornton put TSU up by 12 with a slam at the 5:10 mark.
Thornton finished the first period with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting (67 percent). The senior also had a half-high five rebounds.
Thornton added another jam with 40 seconds remaining in the half, and the Tigers went to the locker room with a 43-29 lead.
TSU shot a season-high 64 percent (13-20) from the field during the first half and drained a season-best five triples.
SEMO (10-9, 2-3) was able to cut TSU's lead down to nine during the first eight minutes of the second stanza, but Cyphers nailed his third three of the game to put the Tigers up 61-49.
Again the Redhawks made a charge, and got within three of TSU when SEMO's Nick Niemczyk nailed a three with three-and-a-half minutes to play. The shot was part of a 15-6 Redhawk run.
TSU head coach Travis Williams called a timeout after the triple and drew up a play for Cyphers. The guard was open from beyond the arc and drained another three to make the score 73-67 in favor of the home squad.
TSU only allowed SEMO to make one more basket during the game's last three minutes and the Redhawks were forced to foul TSU for the remainder of the contest. The Tigers were a perfect 6-for-6 from beyond the charity stripe during the last minute of the game, and hung on for an 81-69 victory.
TSU was 19-of-22 (86.4 percent) from the free-throw line while SEMO was just 6-of-16 (37.5 percent).
Tennessee State will put its perfect conference and home records on the line when the squad plays Jacksonville State on Thursday, Jan. 17. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be shown on the OVC Digital Network.
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