Cookeville, Tenn. - Thursday night proved to be another rivalry game that went down to the wire until the final few minutes. Tennessee Tech used a late run to knock off the Tennessee State Tigers, 92-86, at the Eblen Center.
The Tigers (8-8, 1-2 Ohio Valley) came back from a 10 point deficit and led by as many as six points in the second half, but three consecutive triples off the hands of Zac Swansey gave the Golden Eagles (10-6, 2-1 OVC) the run they needed to pull out the win. The game was the ninth straight time the victory of margin was within single digits.
On the boards, TSU narrowly out-grabbed TTU, 26-to-25. The Golden Eagles shot 59 percent (31-of-53) for the game. Tennessee State managed 52 percent from the field (29-of-56), including 10-of-19 (53 percent) from three-point range. Behind the arch, Tennessee Tech was 9-of-14 for 64 percent.
TSU had five student-athletes reach double figures, including Robert Covington and Patrick Miller with 14 each. Covington was 5-of-11 from the floor. He pulled in nine boards, dished out two assists and picked up two steals in 36 minutes.
Seven of Miller's 14 points came from the charity stripe, as he grabbed two boards and dished out three assists.
Jordan Cyphers knocked down three triples and grabbed three boards in 21 minutes. For the first time since November, Kenny Moore reached double-figures with 10 points.
Senior guard Wil Peters notched 11 points, a team-best four steals and three assists in 27 minutes. Peters was four-of-six from the field. Jay Harris scored a career-high nine points, while Kellen Thornton added eight points against the Eagles.
Tennessee Tech had three players reach 20 points including Jud Dillard and Kevin Murphy with 29 points each. Swansey was six-of-seven behind the arch, totaling 20 points.
Tennessee Tech took a 43-36 lead into the locker room. The Golden Eagles shot 58 percent (18-of-31) from the floor, holding the Tigers to 46 percent (12-of-26). Dillard had 18 points for the Golden Eagles, while Covington lead TSU with eight.
Murphy and Swansey drained a pair of triples to help Tennessee Tech open up to a 10-0 lead in the first three minute of the contest.
Covington and Cyphers knocked down two triples to help the Tigers narrow the margin to six with 15:51 on the clock. Tigers made it a six point deficit again, 17-11, at 11:45.
The Tigers fought back to cut the lead to 20-17 at 9:30 thanks to a basket from M.J. Rhett. Covington's triple at 8:12 tied the contest, 25-25.
TTU proceeded on an 11-to-4 run to take the 36-29 edge with 3:30 left in the half. The Golden Eagles closed out the half to take the 43-36 lead.
In the second half, Tennessee State went on a 9-to-4 run to tie the game at 50. TSU then stretched their lead to six at the 12:11 mark.
Tennessee Tech drained a trey to pull within 59-56 with 11:24 remaining. Swansey hit a three to tie the game followed by a Dillard dunk to give TTU the edge. The next three possessions resulted in three consecutive triples for Swansey as the Golden Eagles ballooned to a 70-64 lead.
The Tigers pulled within two after a pair of free throws from Wil Peters narrowed the Golden Eagles advantage to 75-73. Cyphers hit a crucial triple at 2:57 to put TSU within one, 77-76.
Tennessee State tried to make a comeback, but Tennessee Tech continue to pad the lead at the free throw line and secured the victory.
OVC action continues for the Tigers on Saturday, Jan. 7 when they play at Jacksonville State. Tipoff is slated for 4:30 p.m. in Jacksonville, Ala.
-- TSU TIGERS --