TSU Takes On Delta Devils Friday at LVI
Friday, November 25, 2011
TSU Takes On Delta Devils Friday at LVI
Tennessee State University kicks off the neutral site portion of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational on Friday, Nov. 25 against Mississippi Valley State. Tip-off against the Delta Devils is slated for 1:30 p.m. (CT) at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

After facing the No. 1 team in the country - North Carolina - on Tuesday, the Tigers will face SWAC opponent Mississippi Valley State (0-4) for the 13th time.  

The Tigers dropped a 102-69 decision to the Tar Heels as junior Kellen Thornton inked a game high 15 points, making 70 percent (7-of-10) of his shots. Thornton ranks eighth in the Ohio Valley with a field goal percentage of 54.3 (19-of-35).

Forward Robert Covington inked 11 points against UNC, earning his 45th career double-figure game. This season, Covington is leading the Tigers with 15.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.  The Bellwood, Ill., native ranks second in the OVC with 4.8 defensive rebounds per game. He is just 154 points away from reaching 1,000 in his career.

Defensively, sophomore Patrick Miller leads the way for Tennessee State. The Chicago product has a team-best 20 assists with 12 steals in five games this season. Miller is second in the league with 2.4 assists per game.

TSU is averaging 60.0 points a game, shooting 38.2 (109x285) percent from the floor. The Tigers rank third in the conference with 8.4 steals a game.

Mississippi Valley State is coached by former Kentucky star Sean Woods. The Delta Devils are led in scoring by guard Terrence Joyner, who has 13.0 points a game. Forward Amos Studivant is totaling 9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds a contest.

The Delta Devils have won the last five games against Tennessee State, including a 91-47 win over TSU in the schools' last meeting in 1996.

Live stats of Friday afternoon's game will be available online at TSUTigers.com. The winner of the game will face the winner of the Morgan State vs. Cal Poly matchup later on Friday.

Quick Hits

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE: Mississippi Valley State (0-4) has dropped their first four games of the season with losses at Notre Dame, DePaul, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Delta Devils have not played at home this season. MVSU is coming off a tough 61-57 loss at USC. Guard Terrence Joyner inked 22 points against the Gamecocks, while Falando Jones totaled 11 points. This season, MVSU is averaging 67.3 points a game, while opponents are tallying 80.5 points through four contests. On the season, MVSU is shooting 45.7 percent (101-248) from the field. 

BURNING UP THE RUBBER: TSU men's basketball will approximately travel 5,518 round trip miles during the first three weeks of the season. Last week, Tennessee State played games at Saint Louis and Western Kentucky. This week, TSU travels to Columbia, S.C. then to Chapel Hill, N.C. before venturing out west for the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. 

MEMORABLE MOMENT: Just minutes before TSU's game at No. 1 North Carolina, forward M.J. Rhett got one of the biggest surprises of his life. His mother, Sgt. Stephanie Rhett stepped into the locker room to surprise her son. M.J. thought his mother was still with the U.S. Army in Iraq. However, Stephanie made her way home to watch her son play against the Tar Heels. The moment was captured on video and over 500,000 people have viewed it since it was posted on the TSUTigers.com YouTube page on Tuesday. M.J. will spend more time with his mom next week in Nashville when the Tigers host Middle Tennessee and play at Belmont.

WELCOME BACK TO VEGAS: TSU is participating in the 11th annual Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational for the third time. The Tigers previously appeared in the tournament in 2004 and 2006. TSU is 1-5 all-time in on-campus site events. The Tigers hold a perfect 4-0 record against opponents in Las Vegas.

NOVEMBER BLUES: With five starters returning and three Division-I transfers eligible, the Tigers are looking to get off to a fast start after winning just three games over the past three 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 2-2 after a 64-63 win over South Carolina. The Tigers' two wins in the month of November are the most since the 2008 season.

COVINGTON EARNS POW HONOR: Forward Robert Covington was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Monday, after notching 19.0 points and 9.7 rebounds last week for the Tigers. The Bellwood, Ill., native averaged 19.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 assists/game in three games last week. The junior hit 55.0 percent (22-of-40) from the field, 38.5 percent (5-of-13) from 3-point range and 88.9 percent (8-of-9) from the free throw line as the Tigers beat South Carolina and Fisk and lost by three points at Western Kentucky. In the team's biggest first ever win over an SEC foe, Covington scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds, had three assists and one steal while also draining three 3-pointers in the 64-63 win at South Carolina.  Covington has led TSU in scoring in the first four contests this season. With 11 points at North Carolina, Covington inked his 45th double-figure game in 67 games played during his career.

DISHING AND STEALING: Sophomore guard Patrick Miller leads the Tigers with 20 assists through five games. The Chicago product had a team-best six assists and reached double-figures for the first time this season with 11 points at South Carolina. Miller also leads the Tigers in steals with 12, which ranks second in the Ohio Valley. The reigning OVC Freshman of the Year is averaging 7.6 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 rebounds per game.

TRANSFERS SHOWING IMPACT: TSU junior Jordan Cyphers stepped off the bench and inked his first double-digit game at South Carolina. The Utah transfer picked up 12 points, including a trifecta of three-pointers that helped the Tigers pick up the 64-63 upset over South Carolina. Against North Carolina, Illinois State transfer Kellen Thornton tallied a team-best 15 points, shooting 70 percent (7-of-10) from the field.

NASHVILLE'S OWN: Nashville native and Whites Creek product Wil Peters has been instrumental in the rise of the TSU program the past four seasons. The stingy point guard has inked 79 steals and dished out 279 assists during his lofty career. Last season, he ranked in the top-5 in the OVC with 125 assists in 30 games played. So far this season, Peters has five assists in five games. He is averaging 6.0 points and 2.2 rebounds per game this year. Peters is sixth in the OVC, averaging 34 minutes played a game.

BARNETT'S QUEST: Former NBA star and Tennessee State legend Dr. Dick Barnett was on campus last Wednesday in hopes of getting support from the university and Nashville community for his quest to have the 1957, 1958 and 1959 NAIA National Champion teams recognized in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Dr. Barnett was a member of three peat National Champions and went on to have an illustrious career in the NBA, most notably with the New York Knicks. A documentary film crew was also on hand last week, filming Barnett's quest to have the team recognized in the Hall of the Fame. The crew called Live Star Entertainment recently produced a documentary for HBO called Cornered: A Life Caught in the Ring.