Edwardsville, Ill. - Making his return to his home state, Kellen Thornton led the Tennessee State men's basketball team to an 83-73 victory on Wednesday night in Edwardsville, Ill.
Thornton finished the game with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He also led the team with seven boards.
Cyphers was the Tigers' main option during the game's early going, scoring 10 of his team's first 12 points on 3-of-3 shooting that included a pair of triples.
Even with Cypher's offensive outburst, TSU (16-11, 10-4 OVC) still trailed 13-12 until Covington nailed a three of his own at the 13:32 mark.
Covington's triple was part of a 4-for-5 start for TSU from outside the arc.
The sides traded blows for the next six minutes until SIUE's Kris Davis canned a wide-open three to make the score 27-24 in favor of the Cougars. The lapse in defense caused TSU head coach Travis Williams to call time.
After the stoppage, Thornton went to work and converted on consecutive fade-away jumpers. The senior forward's strong play couldn't stop the Cougars, as the home side eventually went up by seven after an 8-2 run.
Four straight triples from Cyphers, Thornton, Miller and then Cyphers again gave TSU a 44-41 advantage heading into halftime. The strong outside shooting allowed the Tigers to end the half on a 12-2 scoring stretch.
TSU was 8-of-11 from deep during the first half which is the most threes the team has had in a half this year and its 66.7 conversion rate was the best for any half as well. TSU has made more than eight threes in just 4-of-26 full games before Wednesday.
Cyphers and Thornton combined for 27 of TSU's 44 first half points and the duo picked up right where it left off, pouring in TSU's first two baskets of the second stanza.
However, the Tigers were outrebounded (5-0) and outshot (71.4 - 60.0 percent) during the second half's first five minutes, allowing the Cougars to tie the score at 51.
From that point, TSU went on a 13-2 run that included Covington nailing a three at the 10:34 mark. The string of baskets caused SIUE to call timeout to re-group.
The pep-talk did little, as TSU stole the ensuing inbound pass, allowing an easy lay-in for Covington.
SIUE used the next three minutes to pull within three, 66-63, but seven straight points by Thornton later in the half stopped the Tigers' slide and put his team in the driver's seat, 73-65.
TSU never relinquished its lead and Miller buried a pair of freebies with 49 seconds left, allowing the Tigers to walk away with an 83-73 road win.
Tennessee State shot 30-of-52 from the field (57.7 percent) and 10-of-15 from beyond the arc (66.7 percent).
SIUE (9-15, 5-9 OVC) was led by Davis who scored 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. His play allowed the Cougars to make 29-of-60 shots for the contest (48.3 percent).
TSU will take a one-game reprieve from conference play on Saturday when the team comes home to face Loyola (Md.). Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the OVC Digital Network.