Men's Basketball Plays in OVC Semifinals Friday
Friday, March 2, 2012
Men's Basketball Plays in OVC Semifinals Friday

Tennessee State University men's basketball opens Ohio Valley Conference Tournament play in the semifinal round on Friday, March 2. The Tigers will tipoff at 8 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium against No. 3 Morehead State.

The Tigers (19-11, 11-5 OVC) are the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament for the first time since 1996 and third since joining the OVC. TSU is looking to snap a four-game skid in postseason play. The Big Blue last won in the OVC semifinals over Murray State, 83-75, in 2008.

Morehead State (18-14, 10-6 OVC) has won five out of its' last six games, including a 68-54 win over No. 7 seed Jacksonville State on Thursday evening.

The Tigers and Eagles are meeting for the fifth time in OVC Tournament action with the series even at 2-2. TSU defeated Morehead State, 77-72, at the Gentry Center on Jan. 11.

Friday's contest is broadcasted on ESPN3 with Bob Wischusen and Fran Fraschilla calling the action. The Big Blue Sports Network will carry the broadcast on 102.5 The Game and on The Light 102.1 FM/101.9 FM Clarksville. Albert Dawson and Mark Pittman are set to broadcast the game.

A win on Friday would give TSU its' fifth appearance in the OVC Championship game and first since the 2008 campaign. TSU last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1994 after upending top-seeded Murray State 73-72 to win the OVC Tournament title. The Big Blue advanced to play the Kentucky Wildcats, falling 83-70 in the NCAA opening round.

Coach John Cooper has lifted the Tigers to a winning season for the first time in 16 years. The Tigers are just a win shy of reaching 20 for the first time since the 1978-79 campaign.

There has been several firsts for the men's basketball program including a 64-63 win over South Carolina (the first over an SEC opponent) and a 72-68 victory at No. 7/9 Murray State (the first over a NCAA D-I ranked team).  The Tigers' nine-game win streak was snapped on Feb. 23 with an 80-62 loss to No. 12/14 Murray State.

Robert Covington leads the Tigers with 18.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Covington ranks 42nd nationally in points per game. Earlier this week, Covington was named a first team All-OVC selection. The junior forward is just one of nine players in NCAA D-I to have 30 or more 3-pointers (59), offensive rebounds (92), assists (39), blocks (39) and steals (47) this season.

Joining Covington in the postseason honors was junior Kellen Thornton. The transfer from Illinois State averaged 9.4 points and has posted 12.6 ppg during the past 10 contests. Thornton picked up his first double-double with TSU after notching 17 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Murray State.

Tickets are still available for Friday's evening session and may be purchased at the Municipal Auditorium Box Office.