Tigers travel to Jacksonville State for OVC play on ESPNU
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University men's basketball team will play their third consecutive road game when they travel to Jacksonville State for OVC play.

The game is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 21, with tip-off slated for 6 p.m. at the Pete Mathews Coliseum. The match-up will also be broadcasted on the Big Blue Sports Network, with the Tigers making their second straight national television appearance of the season on ESPNU.

It will mark the second time the two have played on ESPNU, with the Gamecocks winning the first televised matchup, 72-64 at Pete Mathews Coliseum on Jan. 30, 2007.

For the young series record between the Tigers and the Gamecocks, TSU holds the slight edge, 8-6. The Tigers have won three straight, seven of the last ten meetings, including a regular season sweep last year.

In the last meeting, TSU picked up an 80-70 win at JSU in 2009. The last time the Gamecocks downed the Tigers was during the early half of the 2007-08 season, 83-79.

The Tigers (4-15, 1-6 OVC) are coming off a tough conference loss at Austin Peay while nursing a two-game skid. TSU dropped a close battle to their state rivals, 79-77, last weekend (1/16).

Josh Sain and Jacquan Nobles each notched a game-high, 20 points apiece. Both guards received OVC honors for their efforts last week with Sain tallying his fourth Newcomer of the Week title and Nobles receiving Freshman of the Week for the first time this year. 

The Tigers have suffered losses by an average of three points in their last two outings. They dropped a crushing 67-62 loss at Iowa (1/12) after picking up their single conference win on the season against UT Martin, 73-59 (1/9). In five of six league defeats, they have loss by an average of 4.4 points and stand at a -7.7 in the scoring margin overall.

As a team, TSU remains idle at 41 percent shooting while averaging 67 points each game. Sain continues to lead the team in scoring and ranks sixth in the conference with 15.4 ppg, while pulling in 4.5 rebounds per contest. He has scored double figures in 13 games thus far including nine straight.

Nobles has emerged to become the team's second leading scorer with 10.3 ppg and is number one in the conference when shooting from long range (.500). He has recorded seven of the last nine games played in which he has scored 10 or more points.

Leading the Tigers on the glass are forwards Robert Covington and Darius Cox. Covington averages 5.5 rpg to go along with 10 ppg and Cox (6.8 ppg) has scored in double figures with his last two starts, averaging 4.7 boards per game.

JSU (7-10, 3-4 OVC) enters with a 6-4 home record, playing the first of four home games, and are fresh off a 73-63 win at UT Martin on Saturday (1/16).

Nick Murphy netted 22 points, Trenton Marshall added 16, and Stephen Hall picked up a double-double with 10 points and a game-high, 13 rebounds. Murphy went 9-for-12 from the floor to lead all scorers, while Hall grabbed 10 defensive rebounds and dished a career best, six assists.

Winning two of their last four outings, the Gamecocks offensively are shooting 45 percent from the field and are first in free-throw shooting in the conference at 75 percent.

The OVC's leading scorer, Marshall, powers JSU. Marshall is averaging 18.5 points per game and is third in the league in steals with 1.6 per game. Marshall was named OVC Newcomer of the Week on four occasions and received the rare Player of the Week nomination (1/11) in his first season as a transfer to the league.

Several other players rank among the league's best to help lead a team that finished with five conference wins last year. Murphy, standing at 6-3, averages 13.6 ppg and is second in the league in rebounds with 6.7 per game. Jeremy Bynum sits third on the squad, averaging 10.8 ppg and was named the conference's Player of the Week back on December 21, and Dominique Shellman's four assists per game ranks third in the OVC.

Defensively, Amadou Mbodji and Sean Thurston sit back-to-back in blocks. Mbodji is third in the OVC with 1.7 bpg and Thurston sits fourth at 1.6 per game.

The Tigers' road grind continues when they travel to Cookeville, Tenn. for conference play against Tennessee Tech on Saturday, January 23. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Eblen Center.