Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State staved off an Alabama A&M comeback and snagged a 78-68 win over the Bulldogs to secure its' best start since 1994.
The Tigers (7-6) led by as many as 17 in the second half, but Alabama A&M (2-6) fought back to tie the game at 47-47 with 9:48 remaining. A 16-7 in the final stretch run helped the Tigers notch the most victories before the winter break since Frankie Allen's squad accomplished the feat during the 1994-95 campaign.
Four Tigers reached double-figures as Robert Covington notched 18 points, a career-high five blocks, four rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes of action. Covington managed his 12th straight double-figure game and is just eight points shy of reaching 1,000 in his three-year career.
For the ninth time this season, Patrick Miller eclipsed double-digits. He posted 17 points, going 4-for-4 from the field, in 25 minutes. The sophomore guard made eight freebies at the charity stripe and dished out three assists.
Jordan Cyphers made two triples and added four total baskets for 15 points and three rebounds. For the second consecutive game, Kellen Thornton totaled 11 points and six boards in 19 minutes.
From the field, TSU banked 21-of-38 attempts for 55 percent. The Tigers made an outstanding 69 percent from the field (11-of-16) in the second half, en route to their second game of 50-plus field goal shooting.
The Tigers were also hot behind the arch, shooting 64 percent (7-of-11) on the evening. Albama A&M was dominated on the boards, being out-rebounded 36-to-26. TSU dished out 15 assists with Wil Peters leading the way with six assists. The senior from Nashville finished with eight points, four rebounds and a steal.
To start the game, Tennessee State broke out to a 12-4 lead after a pair of triples from Covington and Cyphers. Thornton added a free throw and an under-the-basket layup to take the 15-6 edge.
The Tigers stretched their lead to 13, before the Bulldogs fought back to pull within seven from a Jeremy Crutcher three-pointer.
TSU led 31-23 at the half, shooting 46 percent (10-of-22) from the field. The Tigers were 3-of-6 from 3-point range as Thornton led the Tigers with 11 points. Michael Green had four rebounds for TSU.
In the second half, a 9-0 run stretched TSU's lead to 40-23. Alabama A&M fought back to pull within, 40-33, with 15:32 left in the contest.
The Bulldogs went on a six-point run of their own as Brandon Allen made a layup to put Alabama A&M within six, 47-41, with 11-plus minutes remaining. On the next possession, Casey Canty added another fast-break opportunity to cut AAMU's deficit to four.
Canty capitalized on another TSU turnover to pull within two with 9:48 on the clock. Allen scored on a put-back to tie the game at 47-47 with 8:30 on the clock. Canty finished the night with a game-high 21 points.
On the next play, TSU's Miller responded with a triple to give TSU the 50-47 edge.
Peters drove inside the paint to give the Tigers a five-point separation. Covington added a triple to give TSU the 55-49 lead with 6:15 on the clock. The Tigers stretched the gap to 59-49 with 5:07 on the clock.
The Bulldogs couldn't pull below five in the final few minutes as the Tigers sealed their seventh victory of the season. TSU had 44 free throw attempts to just 21 for Alabama A&M.
TSU closes out a three-game homestand and opens Ohio Valley Conference action with UT Martin on Thursday, Dec. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Gentry Center.
-- TSU TIGERS --