Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State men's basketball team's road to the NCAA Tournament begins tomorrow when the squad squares off against the Eagles of Morehead State in the second round of the OVC Tournament.
TSU will play MSU as the Tigers received a first-round bye, while the Eagles had to work their way here by besting UT Martin. Although Morehead State is the No. 5 seed and TSU is No. 4, the Tigers are 0-2 against MSU this year having just lost the second game on Feb. 28, 101-100.
In that game, Big Blue was down by 20 points with only seven minutes left before storming back to cut the lead to three with under five seconds to play. Junior guard Patrick Miller had a chance to send the game into overtime, but his three-point attempt went a tad strong. Robert Covington tipped the ball in, but TSU needed a three.
Covington finished the game with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting including a 4-of-6 mark from downtown. The senior also had a team-high eight boards. Miller, meanwhile, ended up with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting and five assists.
Miller and Covington have been two of TSU's premier players from the start of the season. Covington was averaging 17.7 points per contest and 7.7 rebounds before going down with a knee injury on Dec. 10. Since then, Miller has stepped up and is averaging 17.7 points and five assists per game.
Miller's play down the stretch of the season earned him a place on the All-OVC First Team while Covington and teammate Kellen Thornton were named to the OVC's Second Team.
Thornton was honored after a season that saw him place second on TSU in points per game (15.5) and first in rebounds (7.9)
The trio of selections marks the first time in school history that three Tigers were chosen as a member of either of the OVC's first or second teams.
For Morehead State, the Eagles come into today's game with a 15-17 overall record and a 9-8 OVC mark.
They are led on offense by Milton Chavis and Angelo Warner who average 11 and 10.8 points per game respectively, but the Eagles also have a total of seven players that average at least six points per game, so keying on any one player will be difficult.
Two things that the Tigers must do are: stop Morehead's shooters and box out. The Eagles shot 61.7 percent from the floor in the team's last meeting and 60 percent from downtown. They also beat TSU on the boards 34-31.
TSU is 26-32 all-time against Morehead State including the Tigers' two losses earlier this year.
The Tigers and Eagles tip off at 6 p.m. in the Nashville Auditorium. The winner will go on to face No. 1 seeded Belmont on Friday, while the loser will be knocked out of the tournament.