Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State University couldn't overcome a field goal scoring drought midway through the second half as Middle Tennessee captured a 77-62 victory over the Tigers in front of 6,132 fans at the Gentry Center on Thursday evening.
Tennessee State (3-5) notched a 44-43 lead with 13:46 left in the game, but were held scoreless from the field until the 2:30 mark. MTSU (7-1) forced the Tigers to the free throw line and outscored TSU 21-to-10 during that stretch.
The Tigers shot 33 percent for the game, banking 19-of-58 shots from the field. In contrast, Middle Tennessee hit 51 percent (23-of-45) from the field. TSU forced 15 MTSU turnovers, committing only 12 on the evening.
Patrick Miller reached double-figures for the fifth consecutive game, tying for a game-high 14 points. The Chicago product dished out three assists and recorded a pair of steals.
Junior forward Robert Covington inked his 12th career double-double, posting 12 points and a game best 10 boards. Covington picked up two steals and two blocks against the Blue Raiders.
Also reaching double-digits was junior Kellen Thornton with 11 points, four boards and a steal. Thornton was 5-of-7 from the charity stripe on the evening.
Nearly recording double-digits, Wil Peters inked nine points and dished out four assists in a game-high 36 minutes played.
Middle Tennessee had four players reach double-figures, including Jimmy Oden with a team-best 14 points.
The first half went back-and-forth in the first few minutes until freshman Kharon Butcher knocked down a triple to give TSU the 11-8 lead over the Blue Raiders at 13:11. Butcher finished the game with five points and three rebounds.
Middle Tennessee then answered with a 12-to-3 run, taking a six-point advantage with 9:13 left in the half.
The Tigers roared back to take a 28-26 lead from a Jordan Cyphers trey at the 3:00 minute mark. MTSU and TSU traded jabs before the Blue Raiders took a 32-30 lead into the locker room.
For the first half, the Tigers shot 40 percent (10-of-25) from the floor and 40 percent (4-of-10) from 3-point range. MTSU made 41 percent (11-of-27) of their attempts, including 5-of-10 from behind the arch. In the first half, Covington led the Tigers with nine points and eight boards.
The two squads traded jabs once again as the teams swapped leads on three occasions. Miller added a pair of freebies to put the Tigers up 44-43 with 13:46 remaining in the game.
MTSU proceed on a 16-to-4 run to take a 10-point lead with 4:36 left in the game. The Tigers did not make another basket until Thornton's layup at the 2:33 mark in the contest.
The Tigers pulled within 11 with 1:18 remaining before MTSU clinched its' sixth consecutive victory over TSU.
On the boards, MTSU outrebounded the Tigers 38-to-32. The Tigers picked up eight steals compared to the Blue Raiders' four.
Tennessee State faces another cross-town rival on Tuesday when the Tigers travel to Belmont. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip at the Curb Event Center.
-- TSU TIGERS --