Tennessee State Visits Hilltoppers on Monday
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Tennessee State Visits Hilltoppers on Monday
Tennessee State University men's basketball concludes its' two game road trip on Monday evening with a visit to Western Kentucky University. Tip-off against the Hilltoppers is slated for 7 p.m. at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky.

The Tigers (0-1) dropped a 71-37 decision at Saint Louis on Friday, Nov. 11. TSU was held to just 28.6 percent (14-of-47) shooting from the floor, the lowest for any TSU team since shooting 27.6 percent at Colorado in 2003.

Junior forward Robert Covington led the Big Blue with nine points and four rebounds. The Bellwod, Ill., product made 40 percent of his shots (4-of-10), while picking up an assist and steal in the game.

Two Tigers has strong debuts for TSU. Junior Jordan Cyphers notched eight points, including a triple and a rebound. The Utah transfer shot 40 percent (2-of-5) from the floor.

 Redshirt freshman M.J. Rhett picked up six rebounds, including five off the defensive glass.

The Tigers and Hilltoppers are meeting for the seventh time on Monday. WKU holds the 7-0 edge in a series that began in 1985. The two teams last met at the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 19, 2006 with WKU pulling out the 87-69 victory.

WKU (0-1) dropped a 72-61 decision to St. Joseph's on Friday, Nov. 11. The Hilltoppers shot just 26.5 percent (18-of-68) and were just .211 at three-point range (4-of-19).

Freshman Derrick Gordon led all scorers with 25 points and eight rebounds in his collegiate debut. He became the first WKU player to reach double-digits since Steffphon Pettigrew in 2007.

The Hilltoppers finished 16-16 overall last season and fell 81-62 in the semi-finals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

Live stats and video will be available online at TSUTigers.com. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.  



Single-digit margins appeared in 18 of the Tigers 30 games last season, including three overtime games. TSU finished 9-9 in those games, 2-1 with an extra session. Ten games in a 12-game stretch from Dec. 19 (Morehead State) to Feb. 7 (Jacksonville State) all finished with less than 10 points deciding the outcome.


With seven returnees, including all five starters, 86.4 percent of all points scored (1,767 of 2044), 81.1 percent of rebounding (806 of 994), 90.1 percent of the assists (336 of 373), 88.8 percent of steals (175 of 197), 98.1 percent of the blocks (102 of 104) and 84.9 percent of the minutes played (5152 of 6070) are back for the Tigers to build on last season's 14-win team.


Tennessee State University has four athletes that are from the Chicagoland area: Robert Covington, DeShawn Dockery, Patrick Miller and Kellen Thornton.


As a team, the Tigers' returning seven averaged 172 minutes per game and 58.9 points per game on 584-of-1337 shooting from the field (.437). They shot .378 (154-for-407) from behind the arc and .758 (445-for-587) from the charity stripe. The returning seven massed 806 rebounds (26.9 rpg), 336 assists (11.2 apg), 175 steals (5.8 spg) and 102 blocks (3.4 bpg).


With five starters returning and three Division-I transfers eligible, the Tigers are looking to get off to a fast start after winning just two games over the past two seasons during the month of November. The first month of the 2009 season saw a 1-5 start, while the Tigers went 1-6 in 2010.  So far in 2011, TSU is 0-1 after a 71-37 loss at Saint Louis.


The Tigers started off slow in the loss at Saint Louis. The Billikens jumped out to a 21-7 advantage and held Tennessee State to just 12 points in the first half. The Tigers turned the ball over 22 times against the Billikens, the most since surrendering 22 against Delaware State on Feb. 19, 2011. The first half performance was the lowest for the Tigers since were held to 18 against Jacksonville State on Jan. 20, 2011.


The Tigers' next three out of four opponents have achieved recent success. WKU made an appearance to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008 and ranks as the 16th in the NCAA with 1,639 victories. South Carolina claimed a share of the SEC East Championship in 2009. Meanwhile, North Carolina is currently ranked No. 1 in the country and made an appearance in the Elite Eight last season.