Murray, Ky. - For the first time in school history Tennessee State won a game over a nationally ranked program, defeating the No. 7/9 Murray State Racers 72-68 in front of a sold out crowd at the CFSB Center.
The win didn't come easy as there were nine lead changes - five in the second half. With less than four minutes remaining Robert Covington hit a triple to give TSU the 65-62 lead.
From there the Tigers (16-10, 9-4 Ohio Valley) still battled with the Racers (23-1, 11-1 OVC), which cut TSU's lead to 69-68 with 11.2 seconds. TSU stole an inbounds pass and earned two free throw opportunities, but weren't able to capitalize. Murray State turned the ball over again and Kenny Moore picked up the steal and foul - Moore banked both extending the Tiger's lead to three.
Murray State threw the long inbound pass away and Jordan Cyphers recovered to make one of two, giving TSU an historic win.
Thursday's win was the first time since 1996 that TSU defeated Murray State in regulation at the Racers' home court. The Tigers also secured their first winning season since 1995.
"I'm very proud of our young men to be able to come here and win on the road," Cooper said in the post-game press conference. "It is certainly not an easy place to play, a packed house and a team that just stuck to it. There was a point where we were down 12 points in the second half but yet, and still for whatever reason, we hung in there."
Covington led the Tigers with 17 points and eight rebounds, extending his double-digit scoring streak to 25 games. Moore came off the bench to tie a season-best 16 points with five rebounds and four steals.
Patrick Miller shot 5-of-11 for 12 points with three assists and three steals in 35 minutes. Cyphers added 10 points, including four of six made free throws.
Senior guard Wil Peters collected seven points, four rebounds and four steals in 35 minutes helping the Tigers to an historic win over a nationally ranked opponent.
"It's an amazing feeling," Peters said. "Most people don't get this experience in their whole college career to beat a team that was unbeaten for a long period of time and to share that with your teammates your senior year is very special and I'll probably remember this for the rest of my life."
TSU shot 48 percent (25-of-52) from the field and outscored Murray State's bench 30-to-10. The Tigers stole 15 passes, forcing 18 turnovers in the win.
The Racers knocked down six triples in the first half, taking a 40-33 lead at the half. The Tigers shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from the floor, picking up eight steals. Covington led TSU with nine points.
Murray State opened the game on a 15-7 run. Tennessee State used a trey and a dunk to pull within 15-12 with 11:04 left in the opening frame.
Tennessee State took a brief two-point lead at 8:11 with a basket from Patrick Miller. Murray State fired back with a five point swing to take a 29-26 lead with 3:57 on the clock. Murray State ended the first half on a 7-0 run to stretch their lead to 40-33.
The Tigers started out cold in the second half, allowing Murray State to stretch their lead to 45-33.
TSU cut the lead to six, 48-42, at 12:55. MSU maintained the lead at 53-46 with 10:42 on the clock.
Kenny Moore made five straight points to put the Tigers within one. Thornton's fade-away jumper at 7:12 gave TSU a 56-55 edge with 7:11 on the clock.
The Big Blue and Murray kept close from then on as TSU used key baskets from Moore, Covington and Cyphers to seal the win.
TSU returns to the Gentry Center to host Tennessee Tech in a 7:30 p.m. contest on Saturday, Feb. 11. Saturday is also Courtside Dining and will start with the Lady Tigers game at 5:30 p.m.
-- TSU TIGERS --