Tigers Host SIUE Cougars for Kid's Day
Friday, January 13, 2012
Tigers Host SIUE Cougars for Kid's Day
The Tennessee State University men's basketball team looks to protect the home court advantage on Saturday when Southern Illinois University Edwardsville comes to the Gentry Center for the first time since 1971. The Tigers and Cougars will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. after the conclusion of the Lady Tigers contest. All kids K-12 will receive free admission to Saturday's double-header.

TSU (9-9, 2-3 Ohio Valley) has won five consecutive home games at the Gentry Center, dating back to last season. The Tigers improved their home court record to 17-3 during the past two seasons with a 77-72 victory over Morehead State on Wednesday.

In that contest, TSU knocked down 13 triples and junior forward Robert Covington collected a career-high 30 points. Covington was 7-of-9 behind the arch against the Eagles, notching his 17th consecutive double-figure performance. The Chicago native is fourth in the league with 17.6 points per game. He is second in the OVC with 7.8 rebounds a contest.

Nashville native Wil Peters drained three triples and picked up a career-best two blocks in the win. The senior guard has made 115 triples in his career, just two shy of tying for 10th in school history. Peters is averaging 8.3 points, while dishing out 63 assists in 18 games this season.

Patrick Miller is TSU's other leading scorer, tallying 11.6 points a game. The sophomore from Chicago leads TSU with 64 assists and is tied for the lead with 26 steals.

TSU is averaging 69.7 points a contest, shooting 42.6 percent (422x990) from the field. In 3-point range, the Tigers are knocking down 37.4 percent (134x358) of their attempts. The Tigers are the OVC's top rebounding team, averaging a +3.2 margin each contest. The Tigers have pulled in an average of 34.6 boards per contest.

SIU Edwardsville (5-9, 3-2 OVC) started out 2-0 in conference action before losing two out of their last three games. The Cougars dropped an 85-68 contest at Southeast Missouri on Thursday. SIUE has three players in double-figures: Mark Yelovich (13.2 ppg), Jerome Jones (13.1 pgg) and Kris Davis (12.3 ppg). Davis is the league's best 3-point shooter, knocking down 30-of-49 attempts for 61 percent. SIUE is posting 64.4 points and shooting 43 percent (343x782) through 14 contests this season.

The Tigers and Cougars are meeting for the third time and first as OVC opponents. TSU won the previous two meetings in 1971.

All kids K-12 will receive free admission to Saturday's double-header. The Big Blue Network with Albert Dawson and Mark Pittman will have the action on The Light 102.1 FM and 101.9 FM Clarksville. A live blog, stats and video will be available at TSUTigers.com.

Game Notes...

SCOUTING THE COUGARS: SIUE (5-9, 3-2 OVC) started out 2-0 in conference action, but have dropped two out of their last three. The Cougars fell 85-68 at SEMO on Thursday evening. SIUE is averaging 64.4 points per game, shooting 43 percent (324-of-758) from the field. The Cougars rank third in the league with a 43.6 field goal percentage defense (343x782). Behind the arch has been SIUE's biggest strength, shooting 37.6 (94-of-250). The Cougars have a -4.2 rebounding margin. Three Cougars are in double figures: Mark Yelovich (13.2 ppg), Jerome Jones (13.1) and Kris Davis (12.3).  Jones is also the squad's rebound leader, grabbing 6.6 per contest. Davis is the leading 3-pointer shooter, knocking down 30-of-49 attempts for a league-best 61 percent.

IT'S MILLER TIME: Reigning OVC Freshman of the Year Patrick Miller is continuing his success into this season. The Chicago product is second on the team with 11.6 ppg, leads the team in assists (64) and is tied for first in steals (26). He has reached double-digits in 13 out of the last 15 games.  He has multiple assists in 11 straight games. Against Morehead State, the sophomore grabbed a career-high eight boards to help TSU pick up a 77-72 victory. Miller is averaging 12.2 ppg and 3.6 apg in the past five games.

NEW YEAR, NEW RESOLUTION: TSU has not posted a winning record in the month of January since the 2007-2008 campaign. However, that mark seems to be trending upward under third-year head coach John Cooper. And this year, the Tigers are hoping that is their New Year's resolution. The Tigers posted a 4-4 mark last season. The Tigers went 1-9 in 2009-10 and 3-6 during the 2008-09 season. The Tigers notched a 6-5 record in 2007-08 under then head coach Cy Alexander.  TSU is currently 1-2 after a win over Morehead State on Jan. 11.

COVINGTON ON A ROLL: Junior forward Robert Covington has led Tennessee State in scoring in 14 of  18 games played this season.  On Jan. 11, Covington set a new career-high by scoring 30 points and grabbing eight boards in the win over Morehead State. The career setting performance was also his 17th straight double-digit game. With 17 points against UTM, Covington eclipsed the 1,000 points mark becoming the first TSU player since Gerald Robinson, Jr. in 2009 to reach that milestone. He earned his 15th career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against EKU. He has collected 13 20-plus point performances in his career.  The junior was named to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament team earlier this season and garnered OVC Player of the Week honors on Nov. 21. On the season, Covington ranks fourth in the OVC with 17.6 ppg, is second in rebounding (7.8 per game) and third in blocks (1.2 per game).  TSU is 8-4 this season when Covington scores 17 or more points.

GIVE ME A HAND: The Tigers are just 2-7 this season when dishing out 13 or fewer assists. On the contrast, the Tigers are 7-2 when they reach 15 or more assists.  Earlier this season, the Tigers dished out 24 balls vs. LeMoyne-Owen, the most since notching 24 against Morehead State in 2005.

IT'S GREAT TO BE AT THE GENTRY: The Tigers boast a 17-3 record at the Gentry Center during the past two seasons. TSU has won five consecutive contests at home and finished with a 4-1 record against non-conference opponents at the Gentry. TSU has a five-game win streak against OVC opponents dating back to Feb. 5, 2011. The Tigers' only blemishes were losses to Belmont (2010), Murray State (2011) and MTSU (2011).  TSU has a 12.1 average scoring margin at home against opponents this season.

THE IRONMAN - WIL POWER: Nashville native and Whites Creek product Wil Peters has been instrumental in the rise of the TSU program. Peters has played in 110 games and 3,035 minutes during his four-year career. The senior has 63 assists in 18 games (3.5 apg). He has totaled 334 assists for 3.0 per game in his tenure. During the last five games, he has dished out a team-best 22 assists (4.4 apg).  Peters is averaging 8.3 ppg and 32 mins per game this season.

RPI RATINGS REVEALED: The recent RPI ratings released on Monday, Jan. 9 gave TSU a number of 250, ranking them seventh in the OVC. TSU has faced four opponents with a top-100 RPI: North Carolina 15, Saint Louis  55, Middle Tennessee 84 and Belmont 98. TSU will also play OVC-foe Murray State twice this season, which holds a 20 RPI.

GRABBING THE BOARDS: Tennessee State leads the OVC with a +3.2 rebounding margin. TSU is pulling in 34.5 rebounds off the offensive glass, while grabbing 31.3 on the defensive side. Robert Covington leads TSU with 7.8 rebounds a contest, ranking second in the conference. The Tigers are 7-3 when grabbing 35+ rebounds. TSU has out-rebounded its' opponent in eight consecutive games.

LIMITING THE OPPOSITION: When Tennessee State limits its' opposition to 45 percent or less shooting, the Tigers are a remarkable 8-1. TSU is also 7-1 when they hold opponents to less than 67 points. TSU has a 4-0 record when opponents bank less than 40 percent of their field goal attempts.

TRIPLE THREAT: The Tigers have plenty of options when it comes to 3-point shooting. The Tigers rank third in the OVC with a 37.4 average (134-of-358). Four players have combined for 312 career made 3-pointers: Wil Peters (115), Robert Covington (113), Kenny Moore (45) and Patrick Miller (39). Peters and Covington are just two and four away, respectively, of reaching the top-10 list at TSU.

NEWCOMERS PROVIDING SCORING DEPTH: TSU newcomers have added much needed depth for the Tigers. Transfers Jordan Cyphers and Kellen Thornton are averaging 8.8 and 7.7 ppg, respectively.  Redshirt freshman M.J. Rhett is corralling an average of 4.5 rebounds per game, which is second on the team. Freshman guard Jay Harris connected on three triples and scored a season-high 12 points in the win over Morehead State.

WELCOME TO THE BLOCK PARTY: This season, when Tennessee State records five or more blocks the Tigers have notched a record of 5-1. TSU is fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference with 3.3 blocks per game. Robert Covington has a team-high 22 blocks (1.2 per game) and ranks third in the OVC. 

SETTING THE MARK: Robert Covington and Wil Peters are close to reaching some career marks at Tennessee State. Covington is just 165 points away from reaching TSU's top-20 list for points scored and passing Mike Johnson's mark of 1,251 points set during the 1972-76 seasons. Covington is just 86 rebounds away from reaching 13th on the all-time list. The junior has corralled 573 rebounds in 80 career games played.  Peters is 142 points away from reaching 1,000 points in his career. Peters is two made triples shy of reaching 10th on the all-time list. He is also 117 assists shy of becoming the all-time assists leader in school history.