The Tigers (13-10, 6-4 Ohio Valley) have reeled off three consecutive victories after a thrilling 91-85 win over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. TSU improved its' win total to 19-3 at the Gentry Center during the past two seasons, while boasting a seven game win streak over OVC opponents at home.
Austin Peay (9-14, 6-4 OVC) has won six out of its' last seven games with the only blemish a 65-60 loss at Southeast Missouri. The Govs upended the Tigers in a 69-63 battle in Clarksville on Jan. 16, roaring in a comeback in the final minutes.
The Tigers are led offensively by Robert Covington, who scored 22 points and pulled in eight boards against EKU. Covington has reached double-figures in 22 straight games, while averaging 17.7 points and 7.8 rebounds a contest. Patrick Miller is posting extra digits with 11.8 points. The sophomore leads TSU with 82 assists this season.
Four Governors are tallying double-figures as TyShwan Edmondson carries the team with 13.3 points. Center John Fraley is notching 10.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 14 contests.
A Big Blue victory on Monday would match TSU Head Coach John Cooper's 14 win performance from a year ago. In just three seasons, Cooper has coached the Tigers to 36 victories. Cooper's victories are the most for a TSU coach in his first three seasons since Frankie Allen notched 42 wins during the 1991-1993 seasons.
Albert Dawson and Mark Pittman will call the action on the Big Blue Network (102.9 FM The Light/101.9 FM Clarksville). Fans can also access a live blog, live stats and video online at TSUTigers.com.
SCOUTING THE GOVERNORS: Austin Peay (9-13, 6-3) has won six out of seven contests with the only blemish a 65-60 loss at Southeast Missouri. The Governors are averaging 70 points and shooting 44 percent (581x1310) through 23 games. APSU is pulling in 34.1 boards per game, dishing out 12.7 assists and forcing 15.7 turnovers this season. TyShwan Edmondson leads the Govs with 13.3 points, while Josh Terry follows with 12.0 points. John Fraley is the team's leading rebounder (9.1 rpg) and is averaging 10.9 points. Melvin Baker caps a lineup of four starters averaging double figures with 11.7 points.
IT'S MILLER TIME: Patrick Miller is second on the team with 11.8 ppg, leading the team in assists (82) and steals (33). He has reached double-digits in 17 out of the last 20 games. Miller has multiple assists in 16 straight games. He tied a career-high with 17 points in the win at UTM. In the last five games, Miller is averaging 12.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 3.6 apg.
NEW YEAR, NEW RESOLUTION: TSU secured its' first winning record in the month of January since the 2007-2008 campaign with a 91-85 victory over EKU on Saturday, Jan. 30. The Tigers posted a 4-4 mark last season. TSU went 1-9 in 2009-10 and 3-6 during the 2008-09 season. The Tigers notched a 6-5 record in 2007-08 under then head coach Cy Alexander. TSU is currently 5-3 after a win over UT Martin.
TIGERS NATIONALLY RANKED: Tennessee State is currently ranked No. 3 in the Boxtorow HBCU Division I Poll and No. 10 in the Dr. Cavil Top 10 Poll released for the week of Jan. 23.
CONSISTENTLY COVINGTON: The consistency of Robert Covington has been one of TSU's strongest weapons this season. He has been the leading scorer in 17 of 23 games played this season. At Austin Peay (Jan. 16), Covington inked his 16th career double-double by tying a career-high 30 points. Covington also hit four treys to move to 10th all-time in made triples at TSU (119). The Chicago product notched 22 points and eight rebounds in the win vs. EKU. He has reached double-figures in 22 games. With 17 points against UTM (Dec. 29), Covington eclipsed the 1,000 points mark becoming the first TSU player since Gerald Robinson, Jr. in 2009 to reach that milestone. Covington has collected 15 20-plus point performances in his career. He was named to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament team earlier this season and garnered OVC Player of the Week honors on Nov. 21. On the season, Covington ranks fourth in the OVC (52nd NCAA) with 17.7 ppg, is second in the OVC in rebounding (7.8 per game) and third in blocks (1.3 per game). TSU is 10-5 this season when Covington scores 17 or more points.
PLAYING IT CLOSE: This season, TSU is 8-6 in single-digit games, having played the last seven out of eight contests in single margins. The 2010-11 season saw the Tigers play 18 of their 30 games, including three overtime games, in tight-nit fashion.
PASS THE ROCK: The Tigers are just 5-8 this season when dishing out 13 or fewer assists. On the contrast, the Tigers are 8-2 when they reach 15 or more assists. Earlier this season, the Tigers dished out 24 balls vs. LeMoyne-Owen, the most since notching 24 against Morehead State in 2005.
IT'S GREAT TO BE AT THE GENTRY: The Tigers boast a 19-3 record at the Gentry Center during the past two seasons. TSU has won eight consecutive contests at home and finished with a 4-1 record against non-conference opponents at the Gentry. TSU has a seven-game win streak against OVC opponents dating back to Feb. 5, 2011. The Tigers' only home blemishes were losses to Belmont (2010), Murray State (2011) and MTSU (2011). TSU has a +10.4 average scoring margin at home this season.
THE IRONMAN - WIL POWER: Nashville native and Whites Creek product Wil Peters has been instrumental in the rise of the TSU program. Peters has played in 115 games and 3,224 minutes during his four-year career. The senior has 78 assists in 23 games (3.4 apg). He has totaled 349 assists for 3.0 per game in his tenure. During the last five games, he has dished out 15 assists. On the season, Peters is averaging 7.9 points with an average of 33 minutes played per game, tying him for sixth in the OVC.
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS (RPI): The recent RPI ratings released on Monday, Jan. 23 gave TSU a number of 239, ranking them sixth in the OVC. TSU has faced four opponents with a top-100 RPI: North Carolina 13, Saint Louis 51, Middle Tennessee 54 and Belmont 94. TSU will also play OVC-foe Murray State twice this season, which holds a 33 RPI.
GRABBING THE BOARDS: Tennessee State leads the OVC and is 71st in the NCAA with a +3.7 rebounding margin. TSU is pulling in 34.8 rebounds per contest, while limiting opponents to 31.1 per game. Robert Covington leads TSU with 7.8 rebounds a contest, ranking second in the conference. The Tigers are 10-4 when grabbing 35+ rebounds.
LIMITING THE OPPOSITION: When TSU limits its' opposition to 45 percent or less shooting, the Tigers are a remarkable 11-1. TSU is also 10-2 when they hold opponents to less than 67 points. The Big Blue has a 6-0 record when opponents bank less than 40 percent of their FGAs. In contrast, the Tigers are 1-7 when giving up 50 percent or more.
TRIPLE THREAT: The Tigers have plenty of options when it comes to 3-point shooting. TSU ranks sixth in the OVC with a 35.0 average (151-of-432). Four players have combined for 326 career made 3-pointers: Robert Covington (120), Wil Peters (119), Kenny Moore (47) and Patrick Miller (40). Covington ranks 10th all-time at TSU with 120 triples, passing former teammate Jacquan Nobles' mark of 117.
LINE ME UP: This season, Coach John Cooper has experimented with nine different lineups. His latest tweak seems to be working. The Tigers hold a 5-1 record in the past six games with the combination of G Wil Peters, G Patrick Miller, G Jay Harris, F Robert Covington and F M.J. Rhett. The Tiger's only blemish was a 69-63 road loss to Austin Peay.
MARGINALLY TELLING: Tennessee State has played in many closely contested games since the 2008-09 seasons. During that span, the Tigers are 9-22 on the road in games decided by six points or less. In contrast, the Tigers boast a 15-2 record at the Gentry.
RHETT MAKING NOISE: Redshirt freshman forward M.J. Rhett has made some considerable noise in the past five games. He has posted 6.2 ppg and 5.4 rpg during that span. Rhett has reached double-digit rebounds in three games this season. He is averaging 4.7 rebounds per game, which ranks second on the squad.
SETTING THE MARK: Robert Covington and Wil Peters are close to reaching some career marks at Tennessee State. Covington is just 74 points away from reaching TSU's top-20 list for points scored and passing Mike Johnson's mark of 1,251 points set during the 1972-76 seasons. Covington is 46 rebounds away from reaching 13th on the all-time list. He has corralled 613 rebounds in 85 career games played. Peters is 112 points away from reaching 1,000 points in his career. Peters is also 100 assists shy of becoming the all-time assists leader at Tennessee State.
WHO WE GOT?: Tennessee State will find out on Monday, Jan. 30 who the Tigers will face in the Sears ESPN BracketBuster.
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