January 02, 20201st2ndFinal
Eastern Illinois265379
Tennessee State404484
Stats at a GlanceEIUTSUM
FG Percentage.429 (24-56) .431 (25-58)
3P FG Percentage.611 (11-18) .500 (13-26)
FT Percentage.800 (20-25) .955 (21-22)
Offensive Rebounds99
Defensive Rebounds2526
Total Rebounds3435
Turnovers1311
Steals44
Bench Points1719
LeadersEIUTSUM
PointsWALLACE - 32
LITTLEJOHN - 18
ReboundsDIXON - 10
HARRIS - 10
AssistsWALLACE - 3
MATLOCK - 3
FREEMAN - 4
StealsSMITH - 1
JOHNSON - 1
WALLACE - 1
DIXON - 1
LITTLEJOHN - 2
BlocksDIXON - 2
HARRIS - 2
Tigers Kick Off OVC Play at Home versus EIU
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Tigers Kick Off OVC Play at Home versus EIU

TENNESSEE STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL (8-5) 
vs EASTERN ILLINOIS (7-5)
Date:
 Thursday, Jan. 2
Time: 7:30 p.m. 
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Notes: TSUEIU
Stream: ESPN+
Radio: 102.1 The Ville
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Social Media Updates: Twitter  || #BigBlueRising

OPENING TIP: The Tennessee State men’s basketball team begins its Ohio Valley Conference playing season Thursday, Jan. 2 in the Gentry Center with tip on ESPN+ set for 7:30 p.m.

LEADING THE OVC: Big Blue leads the Ohio Valley Conference in blocked shots per game, averaging 4.6. TSU ranks second in field goal percentage shooting 360-of-744 (.484). Shakem Johnson has made 52-of-74 shots, ranking second in the league in field goal percentage, .686. Mark Freeman has dished out 51 assists to place the freshman third in assists per game. The Tigers also rank second in rebounding defense (31.7) and rebounding margin (+6.2). 

BRIAN COLLINS AND OVC OPENERS: In Coach Collins' first season at the helm of the Tigers, TSU fell in its season opener at home to Tennessee Tech, 66-64. 

TECHnically TECHnical: Assistant Coach Russ Willemsen is the former assistant of the Golden Eagles. Willemsen spent eight seasones with TTU, and was present during its run to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament and CIT, coached an NBA Draft pick (Kevin Murphy), and four OVC All-Tournament team honorees.

ABOUT EASTERN ILLINOIS: EIU is beginning conference play 7-5 after a road loss at Grand Canyon. Three Cougars average double-digit scoring: Mack Smith (13.3), George Dixon (13.2) and Marvin Johnson (10.2). Dixon also leads the team with 106 rebounds (8.8 per game) while Johnson has dished out 37 assists (3.1 per game). The Tigers will have to watch out for Skipper-Brown and JaQualis Matlock as the two forwards have registered 14 blocks a piece this season. 

ALL-TIME SERIES: The Tigers lead the all-time series versus Eastern Illinois 30-24. In last year's matchup, TSU defeated the Cougars at home, 75-60. 

LAST TIME OUT: Shakem Johnson led the Tigers to its fifth non-conference victory in the Gentry Center this season, scoring a career-high 27 points versus Blue Mountain College. Tennessee State men’s basketball improved to 8-5 on the season with the 86-71 win.

The night wasn’t without its stressful moments as the Tigers held the lead for 35:14 of the game, but the Topper’s efficient 48.2 percent shooting from the field, tied the game three times, and changed the lead six.

Shakem Johnson and Michael Littlejohn led TSU offensively throughout the first half, knocking down two free-throws a piece, missing just two shots over 20 minutes of play. Emmanuel Egbuta and Wesley Harris joined Johnson and Littlejohn in the second half combining for 43 points on 68 percent shooting.

NATIONALLY RANKED: The Tigers are ranked in the top 100 in the following categories: 

  • 23 in field goal percentage
  • 29 in rebound margin
  • 67 in total blocks
  • 68 in blocked shots per game
  • 85 in total rebounds per game

UP NEXT: Tennessee State continues conference play at home versus SIU-Edwardsville, Saturday, Jan. 4. Tip is set for 4 p.m. The afternoon serves as Community/Youth Day.

#BigBlueRising