Nashville, Tenn. - After winning a tough fought road game at SIUE on Wednesday, the Tennessee State men's basketball team will host Loyola (Md.) on Saturday in the annual BracketBuster Game.
The contest against the Greyhounds will be a one-game break from OVC play which might not benefit the Tigers. TSU is an impressive 10-4 in conference games, but 6-7 against teams not in the team's league.
The good news for the Tigers is that they will be playing inside the friendly confines of the Gentry Center in which they are 10-0 this year and 20-1 in their last 21 home games.
It will also surely help that the team is coming off one of its best offensive performances of the season against SIUE. TSU shot seasonal-bests 57.7 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from beyond the arc.
The Tigers also racked up 23 assists against the Cougars which was their highest total of the season. Junior Patrick Miller led the way with 11 dimes- one short of his career high- and the Tigers recorded assists on 76.7 percent of their baskets.
The incredible offensive outburst led TSU to an 83-73 victory and guaranteed the Tigers at least the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the OVC Tournament. The Tigers could get the No. 3 seed if they beat Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky next weekend.
First, the Tigers must take care of business against the Greyhounds of Loyola (Md.) who come into Saturday's scrap sporting a 19-9 overall record. They are also 11-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference which is good enough for second place.
Loyola is led by Dylon Cormier whose 17 points per contest makes him the MAAC's fourth-leading scorer. The Greyhounds also have Erik Etherly (14.9 ppg) and Robert Olson (12.9 ppg) who are more than capable scorers.
The strengths in this year's Loyola (Md.) team lie in the club's big men; the squad leads its league in blocks per game (4.7) and offensive rebounds (13.0).
Making the most of every possession will be critical for TSU if the team wants to beat the Greyhounds for the first time in three chances. The Tigers lost the last meeting in 2008, 73-70, and also fell, 62-60, in 2006.
This will be the sixth time TSU has participated in the BrackBuster event and the second time the Tigers will play Loyola (Md.) in the event. TSU is 4-2 all-time in BracketBuster games and won last year's game, 68-61, over Miami (Oh.).
Saturday's matchup is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on the OVC Digital Network.