Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State men's basketball team was 0-2 against Morehead State during the regular season, but the Tigers beat the Eagles when it mattered most on Thursday night, 88-75.
Jordan Cyphers set a new career high with 23 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The Wichita, Kan. native was also 10-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Patrick Miller had his second consecutive double-double for TSU, finishing with 15 points and 10 assists.
TSU forced 17 turnovers in the game and outshot Morehead State, 48.3 percent to 42.4.
Morehead State's only lead was after scoring the game's opening basket, and TSU forced four turnovers during the next four minutes, sparking a 9-2 Tiger run. Highlighting the stretch was a steal by Miller, followed by a long cross-court pass ahead to Cyphers, which resulted in an old-fashioned three-point play for the Tigers.
Miller, the OVC's leader in assists at 5.5 per game, had five dimes in the first half alone.
The Tennessee State full-court press forced yet another Eagle miscue at the 13:42 mark and the ball ended up in the hands of Thornton. The senior missed a three, but five-foot-ten guard Jay Harris was there deep in the lane to clean up the mess. Harris's hoop put TSU in the driver's seat, 15-9.
A three by Covington with eight minutes to go in the half widened TSU's lead even farther and a layup by Miller a couple of possessions later made the score 27-13 in favor of the Tigers.
TSU eventually raised its advantage all the way to 15, but a 6-2 Morehead run to end the half made the score, 41-30, heading into the locker room.
The Tigers flew around on defense during the first 20 minutes, forcing nine turnovers and only allowing the Eagles to shoot 34.5 percent from the field (10-of-29).
Morehead State chipped away at TSU's lead and brought it down to nine during the second half's first three minutes, but then Covington took over. The senior first polished off a rim-rocking alley-oop and then swooshed a three on TSU's next possession, making the score 55-41.
Covington's scoring flurry moved him into seventh place on the school's all-time scoring list, passing Bernard Bailey's 1700 career points.
Following the Bellwood, Ill. product's milestone, Morehead State rattled off a 15-4 run to pull within three of the lead. Harris answered with a three and fast-break layup and TSU was back in control, 64-56.
It seemed as though the Tigers weathered the storm, as TSU went up by double-digits a few possessions later and never relinquished its big lead.
A three by Cyphers at the 1:20 mark gave the senior his career-tying 22nd point and ended Morehead's chances at a comeback.
With the win, TSU improves to 18-13 on the season and an ESPNU televised game against No.1 seeded Belmont at 6 p.m. tomorrow night.