HONOLULU, Hawai’i – On Friday night, the Tennessee State men’s basketball team will officially tipoff its season against the University of Hawai’i in the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Classic. The event spans four days and will pit the Tigers against New Mexico State on Saturday and Western Michigan on Monday.
TSU is coming off of an 18-15 season in Travis Williams’s first campaign at the helm of the program and a, 69-68, exhibition victory over Division II opponent Lemoyne-Owen on Monday night.
Jaleel Queary hit a free throw with just over a second left to allow the Tigers notch the win in a closely fought contest throughout.
While Queary made the big shot, it was senior guard Patrick Miller who found him underneath the basket with a pretty pass.
Miller paced the Tigers with 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting including an 11-for-13 mark from the charity stripe. The Chicago, Ill. native also had a game-high five assists and added four boards.
Miller averaged 14.8 points, 5.9 assists per game as well as recording a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio last season and his junior season will go down as one of the best for a point guard in school history after Miller set the single season assist mark with 195.
Miller’s record breaking junior season earned him a spot on the All-OVC first team at season’s end. The 6-1 guard is one of just six returning players off of last year’s Tennessee State ball club.
Two of those holdovers, Michael Green and M.J. Rhett, also played well for TSU during Monday’s exhibition. The big men duo combined for 25 points and seven rebounds against Lemoyne-Owen.
TSU will have to count on Green and Rhett this season if the team wants to match last season’s rebounding margin (2.8) that placed it second in the OVC.
The Tigers’ first opponent is Hawai’i which is fresh off of a 101-85 exhibition win over BYU-Hawai'i on Halloween Night. Christian Standhardinger led the way with 27 points while junior college transfer Garrett Nevels impressed with 24 points. Hawai’i finished with a 17-15 record last year while playing in the Big West Conference.
On Saturday, TSU will square off against New Mexico State which also won its exhibition game, 97-68, last Tuesday night versus Western New Mexico. The Aggies had six players finish with double-digit points. NM State was led by sophomore forward Matej Buovac who finished with a team-high 18 points. Buovac did most of his damage from beyond the 3-point line, going 5-10 from beyond the arc for 15 of his points. New Mexico State was 24-11 a year ago.
TSU will conclude the classic on Monday against a Western Michigan team that defeated the Aquinas College Saints, 69-54, on Monday night. The Broncos were led by Shayne Whittington who had 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field. He also grabbed seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. WMU posted a 22-13 mark last season.
The Tigers’ quest for a berth in NCAA Tournament starts Friday when the team travels to Hawai’i. Tipoff is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. CT.