TIGERS LOOK TO AVOID STRETCH OF 2003-04
NASHVILLE --- A year ago, Tennessee State was the early surprise of the Ohio Valley Conference heading into a four-game homestand with a 3-1 record. The Tigers hope to avoid the stretch of last season when they dropped all four home games and found themselves at 3-5. TSU finished 6-10 and managed an eighth-place finish in the league, a far cry from their predicted last place finish. However, the Tigers felt they could have fared even better if they would have had any success during that four-game stretch. This season, TSU will face the challenge of playing the same four opponents in upcoming games, but this time it is on the road. "We have reminded our players of what happened last season, and the returning players are certainly making our new players aware of what happened," said TSU head coach Cy Alexander. "We have a challenge in front of us." The 3-1 Tigers begin the stretch against the same team they did last season in the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks. The Skyhawks are 4-12 overall and 1-4 in the OVC, with three of the losses coming at home. "UT Martin has a very capable team with good players and the record is misleading," said Cy Alexander. "They are going to break out of it at sometime, but I hope it is after Thursday night." The Skyhawks will look to rebound following a disappointing 96-70 home loss on Tuesday to Murray State. Murray State is the Tigers' Saturday opponent. TSU returns to the road for the first time since claiming two victories in its home openers last week. TSU erased an 18-point second half deficit to defeat Southeast Missouri 105-101 in double overtime and followed with a 77-62 win over Eastern Illinois. The Tigers unveiled a different starting lineup in the EIU game. Freshman Reiley Ervin was named the OVC's Freshman of the Week for his play in the two Tiger victories. Rod Flowers has returned to the lineup and the Tigers hope the OVC's leading rebounder will be at full strength before too long as he missed three games with a sprained right ankle. TSU came back to win the second game between the two schools last season to gain a split in the season series.