The Tennessee State University Tigers return once again to the Gentry Center, hosting Mid-American Conference foe Central Michigan on Saturday, Dec. 10. The game with the Chippewas is slated for a 2 p.m. tip-off.
TSU (3-6) is coming off a tough 75-62 road loss at Belmont. The Tigers pulled within three in the final four minutes, but Belmont closed out the game with a 17-to-7 run. Patrick Miller led the Tigers in scoring for the second consecutive game, with 17 points.
Robert Covington reached double-digits for the 49th time in his career, tallying 11 points and seven boards in 22 minutes of action. Covington leads the Tigers with 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is just 90 shy of reaching 1,000 points during his career.
Through nine games, the Tigers are posting 64.7 points and 33.2 rebounds per game. TSU is shooting 39.7 percent (201-of-506) from the field and 35.3 percent (65-of-184) from 3-point range. The Tigers are posting 3.2 blocks a game, which is second in the Ohio Valley Conference.
TSU and Central Michigan (4-3) are meeting for the third time on Saturday. The Chippewas picked up a 79-73 win over the Tigers in 2010 during an ESPN BracketBuster game. TSU defeated the Chips in the first-ever meeting, 79-76 at the 1996 Illinois Classic.
CMU has won two out of the last three games, but fell at Temple, 86-74. Through seven games, Central Michigan is averaging 68.1 points per game. From the field, the Chips are shooting 40 percent and 36 percent behind the arch.
Three Chippewas are posting double figures with guard Trey Zeigler leading the way (17.9 ppg and 8.6 rpg). Austin McBroom and Derek Jackson are averaging 11.4 and 10.3 points per game, respectively.
Live video and stats of Saturday's game will be available online at TSUTigers.com. The Big Blue Radio Network will carry the game live on 102.1 FM The Light in Nashville and 101.9 FM in Clarksville.
SCOUTING THE CHIPPEWAS: Central Michigan (4-3) has won two out of its' last three games, but enters Saturday's contest after falling 86-74 at Temple on Dec. 3. The Chippewas are averaging 68.1 points per game and rebounding an average of 39.4 per game. CMU is boasting 8.0 steals and 6.0 blocks per game through seven contests. The Chippewas are currently in a stretch of playing 10 of 11 games on the road. After their trip, the Chips will have traveled a total of 10,820 miles. Three players are averaging double-figures with Trey Zeigler leading the way (17.9 ppg and 8.6 rpg). Freshman Austin McBroom and sophomore Derek Jackson follow with 11.4 and 10.3 ppg, respectively.
AVOIDING THE SOPHOMORE JINX: So far this season, sophomore Patrick Miller is avoiding the sophomore slump. The Chicago product is second on the team with 11.3 points per game and leads the Tigers with 31 assists. Miller has dished out four or more assists in five games this season. He has a team-best 19 steals and is shooting 36 percent (29-of-80) from the floor. Miller is second in the OVC with an average of 34 minutes played per game. Miller has led the Tigers in scoring in back-to-back games (14 vs. MTSU and 17 at Belmont).
REMEMBER DECEMBER: TSU hopes to repeat what it did a year ago. December 2010 marked one of the best finishes for the Tigers in recent memory. Tennessee State posted a 5-2 record during that span, including a five-game win streak that stretched from Dec. 4 until Dec. 21. TSU's only losses during that month were at Eastern Illinois (67-68) and at Middle Tennessee (58-65). The Tigers were a perfect 3-0 at the Gentry Center last December.
PUT YOUR TRUST IN COVINGTON: Junior forward Robert Covington has led Tennessee State in scoring in five of nine games played this season. The Bellwood, Ill., product managed his 12th career double-double last week against MTSU. He scored 12 points and pulled in 10 boards against the Blue Raiders. Against Belmont, Covington notched 11 points and seven rebounds, earning double-digit points for the 49th time in his illustrious career. The junior was named to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament team after averaging 17.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. Covington garnered OVC Player of the Week honors on Nov. 21 after posting 19.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in three games. Covington has collected ten 20-plus point games in his career. He is just 90 points away from reaching the 1,000 points club at TSU. On the season, Covington ranks fourth in the OVC with 15.7 ppg and is third in rebounding with 7.4 rpg.
WHO'S STREAKING?: During the past three games, Robert Covington and Patrick Miller are each averaging a team-best 15.6 ppg. Covington leads the Tigers with 8.3 rpg, a 45 shooting percentage (14-of-31) and six blocks during that stretch. Wil Peters is posting 9.7 ppg and has 10 assists in the last three games. Kellen Thornton and M.J. Rhett are helping bring in the boards with 5.7 and 4.0 rpg, respectively.
HOME SWEET HOME: Last season, Tennessee State boasted a stout 11-2 record inside the Gentry Center. Currently, the Tigers are on a five game win streak at home dating back to Feb. 5, 2011. The Tigers' five-game win streak at home was snapped with a 77-62 loss to Middle Tennessee on Thursday, Dec. 1.
MAY I HAVE A TREY PLEASE?: Tennessee State has made 58 three-pointers this season. However, the Tigers are 1-5 when shooting 45 percent or less. Robert Covington and Jordan Cyphers each have combined for 29 triples this season. Guard Wil Peters has drained 13 3-pointers, shooting 36 percent (13-of-36) from behind the arch. Covington leads TSU in 3-pt field goal percentage, banking 15-of-38 attempts for 39.5 percent this season.
NASHVILLE'S OWN: Nashville native and Whites Creek product Wil Peters has been instrumental in the rise of the TSU program the past four seasons. The stingy point guard has inked 81 steals and dished out 292 assists during his lofty career. Last season, he ranked in the top-5 in the OVC with 125 assists in 30 games played. So far this season, Peters has 21 assists in nine games. He is averaging 8.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game this year. Peters is sixth in the OVC, averaging 33 minutes played a game.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Just minutes before TSU's game at No. 1 North Carolina, forward M.J. Rhett got one of the biggest surprises of his life. His mother, Sgt. Stephanie Rhett stepped into the locker room to surprise her son. M.J. thought his mother was still with the U.S. Army in Iraq. However, Stephanie made her way home to watch her son play against the Tar Heels. The moment was captured on video and over 612,000 people have viewed it since it was posted on the TSUTigers.com.
THORNTON MAKING IT COUNT: Junior Kellen Thornton is making every shot attempt count this season. The forward is shooting a team-best 51 percent (32-of-63) from the floor. He has posted double-digits in three games, including a season high 15 at then-ranked No. 1 North Carolina. Beyond scoring, the Illinois State transfer has grabbed 32 boards and dished out six assists in nine games this season.
NO FREE GIFTS FOR YOU: During the past three games, Tennessee State has limited turning the ball over to the opposition. The Tigers have committed less than 13 turnovers in five out of the last six games. TSU has not given up 15+ turnovers since committing 21 against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 25, 2011.
BARNETT'S QUEST: Former NBA star and Tennessee State legend Dr. Dick Barnett was on campus in November in hopes of getting support from the university and Nashville community for his quest to have the 1957, 1958 and 1959 NAIA National Champion teams recognized in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Dr. Barnett was a member of three peat National Champions and went on to have an illustrious career in the NBA, most notably with the New York Knicks. A documentary film crew was also on hand, filming Barnett's quest to have the team recognized in the HOF. The crew called Live Star Entertainment recently produced a documentary for HBO called Cornered: A Life Caught in the Ring.
-- TSU TIGERS --