Cape Girardeau, Mo. - Tennessee State overcame an eight point second half deficit and outscored Southeast Missouri by 10 points in the second half to seal a 75-72 victory over the Redhawks at the Show Me Center.
Trailing by eight early in the second half, The Tigers (15-10, 8-4 Ohio Valley) battled back with a 10-5 run to tie the game. From there, SEMO (12-11, 7-4 OVC) took brief leads, but TSU used a strong run in the final seven minutes to seal their fifth consecutive win.
The 15th victory was the most under third-year head Coach John Cooper. TSU is now just one win away from securing a winning season for the first time since 1995-96.
Offensively, TSU shot 42 percent (25-of-59) from the field, despite being out-rebounded 49-to-35. The Tigers managed 10 steals and forced 17 turnovers. TSU had only five miscues and dished out seven assists.
Robert Covington pulled in his 17th career double-double with a game-best 23 points and 13 rebounds. The junior from Bellwood, Ill., picked up four steals and shot 9-of-17 from the field in 31 minutes. Covington has now scored double-figure points in 24 straight games.
Kellen Thornton tied a season-high knocking down 15 points and pulling in six rebounds in 25 minutes. Kenny Moore reached 11 points with two rebounds.
Jordan Cyphers inked nine points, making all five free throw attempts. M.J. Rhett and Patrick Miller each added six points. Rhett pulled in six rebounds and a career-high three blocks. Miller dished out three assists alongside teammate Wil Peters.
Tennessee State trailed 35-30 at the halftime intermission. The Tigers were out-rebounded 29-to-15 and shot just 38 percent (12-of-32) from the field. Kenny Moore led TSU with nine points, while Covington had six points. SEMO's Corey Wilford led the team with 10 points.
To start the game the two teams went back and forth at nine points. Covington notched a basket and Moore hit two consecutive treys to give the Tigers a 19-9 lead with 10:59 remaining in the first half.
The Tigers stretched their lead to 25-16 when Southeast Missouri then proceeded on a 19-to-5 run to close the half. For the final 3:47, Tennessee State was held scoreless.
In the second half, Tennessee State started an 11-to-5 run and took a 41-40 lead with 15:51 on the clock. However, the Redhawks used a 12-6 run to stretch the advantage to 52-47.
Tennessee State tied the game at 58 with Covington free throw at 6:51. TSU then added four points to take a 62-58 lead at 5:07.
A Covington dunk at 3:20 extended TSU's lead to 66-58. SEMO answered with a Corey Wilford triple, his fourth of the game, to make it a 66-61 contest.
The Tigers stretched a lead to 69-61, but Lucas Nutt hit a basket with less than a minute to pull within three.
On the very next possession, Rhett made a layup and connected on the and-one to put TSU up 72-66. From there, it was another three free throws for TSU that sealed the win 75-72.
Tennessee State visits No. 9/10 Murray State in a one versus two battle on Thursday, Feb. 9. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at the CFSB Center in Murray, Ky.
-- TSU Tigers --