Tigers Return to Gentry to Host Morehead State
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Tigers Return to Gentry to Host Morehead State
It's finally good to be home --- at least that's the mantra for the Tennessee State University men's basketball team as the Tigers return to the Gentry Center on Wednesday evening, Jan. 11 to host Morehead State. Tip-off with the Eagles is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Tigers (8-9, 1-3 Ohio Valley) dropped three games in their opening OVC road swing, including a 72-65 loss at Jacksonville State on Saturday, Jan. 7. The Tigers gave up 57 percent or higher in shooting in the first half during the past three games, but are hoping the friendly confines of the Gentry Center will slow down the MSU Eagles (8-9, 2-2 OVC).

Morehead State holds a slight 30-27 edge in the all-time series and have won three out of the last four contests. During the past two seasons, TSU holds a 16-3 record inside the Gentry Center. Currently, the Tigers have a four-game win streak against OVC opponents dating back to Feb. 5, 2011.

This season, TSU is averaging 69.3 ppg and shooting 42.3 percent (399x943) from the field. The Tigers are the OVC's top rebounding team, recording a +3.2 rebounding margin each game.

Junior forward Robert Covington inked his 16th consecutive double-figure game on Saturday. The Bellwood, Ill., product scored 15 points and gathered eight rebounds in the loss to Jacksonville State. Covington is just 195 points away from reaching TSU's top-20 all-time scoring list and just 94 rebounds away from reaching the school's top-13 list. His average of 16.9 points per game is fourth in the league, while his 7.8 rebounds per contest is second in the league.

Also, averaging double-figures is sophomore Patrick Miller. The Chicago product has garnered 11.9 points per game and leads the Tigers with 59 assists this season.

During the past six games, Jordan Cyphers has averaged 12.3 points and leads the Tigers with 15 made triples during that stretch.

Morehead State has won four out of its' last six games, but dropped a 66-55 contest at Tennessee Tech on Saturday, Jan. 7. The Eagles are without their top scorer Terrance Hill, who is out for the remainder of the season. Ty Proffitt leads the Eagles with 9.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Milton Chavis is MSU's leading rebounder, corralling 4.8 boards a contest.

Wednesday's game will be aired on the Big Blue Sports Network with Albert Dawson and Mark Pittman calling the action. Fans can watch live video and view live stats at TSUTigers.com.

Game Notes...

SCOUTING THE EAGLES: Defending OVC Tournament Champion Morehead State (8-9, 2-2 OVC) has won four out of its' last six games. The Eagles dropped a 66-55 decision at Tennessee Tech last Saturday. On the season, Morehead State is averaging 63.7 ppg and shooting 41.6 percent (364-of-875) from the field. The Eagles are 36.6 percent (121x331) behind the arch. MSU is averaging 31.8 rebounds and 8.9 steals per contest. With the absence of NBA first round draft pick Kenneth Faried, the Eagles have relied heavily on Terrance Hill (13.3) to carry the team. However, Hill is out the remainder of the season due to injury. Ty Proffitt is the team's next leading scoring, averaging 9.4 ppg and 2.3 rpg in 17 contests. Milton Chavis is the Eagles' top rebounder, corralling 4.8 boards and scoring 7.5 points in 17 starts.

IT'S MILLER TIME: Reigning OVC Freshman of the Year Patrick Miller is continuing his success into this season. The Chicago product is second on the team with 11.9 ppg, leads the team in assists (59) and is tied for first in steals (25). He has reached double-digits in 13 out of the last 14 games.  He has multiple assists in 10 straight games. Miller is averaging 14.2 ppg and 3.2 apg in the past five games.

NEW YEAR, NEW RESOLUTION: TSU has not posted a winning record in the month of January since the 2007-2008 campaign. However, that mark seems to be trending upward under third-year head coach John Cooper. And this year, the Tigers are hoping that is their New Year's resolution. The Tigers posted a 4-4 mark last season. The Tigers went 1-9 in 2009-10 and 3-6 during the 2008-09 season. The Tigers notched a 6-5 record in 2007-08 under then head coach Cy Alexander.

COVINGTON ON A ROLL: Junior forward Robert Covington has led Tennessee State in scoring in 13 of  17 games played this season.  With 17 points against UTM, Covington eclipsed the 1,000 points mark becoming the first TSU player since Gerald Robinson, Jr. in 2009 to reach that milestone. Covington managed his 16th consecutive  double-digit point performance with 15 points and eight rebounds at Jacksonville State. He earned his 15th career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against EKU. He has collected 12 20-plus point performances in his career.  The junior was named to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament team earlier this season.  Covington garnered OVC Player of the Week honors on Nov. 21 after posting 19.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in three games. On the season, Covington ranks fourth in the OVC with 16.9 ppg, is second in rebounding (7.8 per game) and third in blocks (1.2 per game).  TSU is 7-4 this season when Covington scores 17 or more points.

PLAYING IT CLOSE: This season, TSU is 4-5 in single-digit , having lost three consecutive games within single margins. The 2010-11 season saw the Tigers play 18 of their 30 games, including three overtime games, in tight-nit fashion. TSU finished 9-9 in those games, 2-1 with an extra session. Ten games in a 12-game stretch from Dec. 19 (Morehead State) to Feb. 7 (Jacksonville State) all finished with less than ten points deciding the outcome.

GIVE ME A HAND: TSU needs to hand out a few more assists if trends are any indication. The Tigers are just 2-7 this season when dishing out 13 or fewer assists. On the contrast, the Tigers are 6-2 when they reach 15 or more assists.  Earlier this season, the Tigers dished out 24 balls vs. LeMoyne-Owen, the most since notching 24 against Morehead State in 2005.

NOTHING LIKE HOME: The Tigers now boast a 16-3 record at the Gentry Center during the past two seasons. The Tigers' five-game win streak at home was snapped earlier this season when Middle Tennessee defeated the Tigers, 77-62. The Tigers have since regained momentum winning the next four contests at the friendly confines and finishing with a 4-1 record against non-conference opponents at the Gentry. TSU has a four-game win streak against OVC opponents dating back to Feb. 5, 2011.

THE IRONMAN: WIL POWER: Nashville native and Whites Creek product Wil Peters has been instrumental in the rise of the TSU program. He was recently announced as a candidate for the  prestigious  Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation's top collegiate point guard.  Peters has played in 109 games and 2,998 minutes. The senior has 57 assists in 17 games.  During the last five games, he has dished out a team-best 22 assists (4.4 apg).  Peters is averaging 8.2 ppg and 32 mins per game this season.

RPI RATINGS REVEALED: The recent RPI ratings released on Monday, Jan. 9 gave TSU a number of 250, ranking them seventh in the OVC. TSU has faced four opponents with a top-100 RPI: North Carolina 15, Saint Louis 55, Middle Tennessee 84 and Belmont 98. TSU will also play OVC-foe Murray State twice this season, which holds a 20 RPI.

GRABBING THE BOARDS: Tennessee State leads the OVC with a +3.2 rebounding margin. TSU is pulling in 34.8 rebounds off the offensive glass, while grabbing 31.6 on the defensive side. Robert Covington leads TSU with 7.8 rebounds a contest, ranking second in the conference. The Tigers are 7-3 when grabbing 35+ rebounds.

LIMITING THE OPPOSITION: When Tennessee State limits its' opposition to 45 percent or less shooting, the Tigers are a remarkable 8-1. TSU is also 7-1 when they hold opponents to less than 67 points. TSU holds a 4-0 record when opponents bank less than 40 percent of their field goal attempts.

TRIPLE THREAT: The Tigers have plenty of options when it comes to 3-point shooting. The Tigers rank fourth in the OVC with a 36.3 average (121-of-333). Four players have combined for 302 career made 3-pointers: Wil Peters (112), Robert Covington (106), Kenny Moore (45) and Patrick Miller (39). Peters and Covington are just five and 11 away, respectively, of reaching the top-10 list at TSU.

NEWCOMERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: The trifecta of  TSU newcomers have been very important during the mid-way point of the season for the Tigers. Transfers Jordan Cyphers and Kellen Thornton are averaging 8.9 and 7.7 ppg, respectively.  Redshirt freshman M.J. Rhett is corralling an average of 4.5 rebounds per game, which is second on the team.

NEED TO STOP 'EM EARLY: During the recent three-game losing skid, the Tigers have given up 57 percent or better shooting to their opponents in the first half. In two of the three contests, the Tigers were held below 30 percent shooting from the field. At the midway point: TSU has trailed by 24 points to Eastern Kentucky,  17 points to Jacksonville State and 7 points to Tennessee Tech.

CYPHERS STEPPING UP STRONG: Jordan Cyphers has started the past six games and has made an immediate impact for the Tigers. The transfer from Utah is averaging 12.3 points a game during that span. He is 25-of-54 (46.3) from the field and has knocked down 15 three-pointers during that stretch. The Wichita, Kan., native garnered his first OVC honor (Dec. 26), earning Co-Newcomer of the Week.

SETTING THE MARK: Robert Covington and Wil Peters are close to reaching some career marks at Tennessee State. Covington is just 195 points away from reaching TSU's top-20 list for points scored and passing Mike Johnson's mark of 1,251 points set during the 1972-76 seasons. Covington is just 94 rebounds away from reaching 13th on the all-time list. The junior has corralled 565 rebounds in 79 career games played.  Peters is 153 points away from reaching 1,000 points in his career. Peters is five made triples shy of reaching 10th on the all-time list. He is also 122 assists shy of becoming the all-time assists leader in school history.

-- TSU TIGERS --