Jacksonville, Ala. - The Tennessee State University men's basketball team tried to make another second half comeback, but Jacksonville State held steady to take the 72-65 victory over the Tigers on Saturday at Pete Matthews Coliseum.
Tennessee State (8-9, 1-3 Ohio Valley) trailed by as many as 20 in the second half, before cutting the deficit to five with less than five minutes remaining. The Gamecocks (6-12, 1-4 OVC) added a pair of baskets and connected on 13 free throws in the final few minutes to pick up their first conference win this season. Dating back to last season, Tennessee State has now lost eight consecutive OVC road games.
The Tigers tied a season low, shooting just 29.8 percent (17-of-57) from the field. In contrast, Jacksonville State lit up the court, knocking down 50 percent (24-of-48) from the field. TSU was 4-of-20 from three point range. Despite the slow shooting night, the Tigers dominated the boards, 42-29 over JSU.
Junior forward Robert Covington led the Tigers with 15 points and eight boards. He picked up two steals, two blocks and two assists in 30 minutes of action. The game was Covington's 16th consecutive double-figure contest.
For the fifth straight game, Patrick Miller scored 12 points and grabbed four boards. He dished out a game-best four assists, while playing 35 minutes.
Jordan Cyphers scored 11 points and grabbed two boards in 20 minutes. The junior was 4-of-9 from the field.
Freshman M.J. Rhett narrowly missed a double-double, scoring a season-high nine points and tying a career-high with 10 rebounds. Nine of Rhett's 10 rebounds resulted off the defensive glass.
Jacksonville State led comfortably at the mid-way point, taking a 39-22 lead in the locker room. TSU shot just 30 percent (7-of-23) from the floor, while JSU connected on 57 percent (16-of-28). The Tigers also gave up nine turnovers, resulting in 12 JSU points.
Cyphers led TSU with six points and Rhett had five rebounds at the intermission.
The Gamecocks opened up the first half on an 8-3 run. The Tigers cut the game to five with a basket from Rhett.
Jacksonville State's Ronnie Boggs connected on a trey at 11:05 to give the Gamecocks a 16-7 advantage. Brian Williams knocked down a triple to open the Gamecocks' lead to 29-14 with 4:34 left in the first half. The Gamecocks hit a triple at the break to extend its' lead to 39-22 at the half. Williams finished with a game-high 17 points.
In the second half, JSU continued to play strong, taking a 42-26 lead with 15:50 remaining in the game. Chris Conner knocked down a triple at 12:26 to put the Tigers within 13.
Miller drove through the lane and picked up the and-one opportunity to put the Tigers within 10. Just a few minutes later, Covington took a possession away and slammed home a dunk to put the Tigers within seven, 51-44, with 7:29 on the clock.
Rhett scored a putback to put the Tigers within five with 4:45 left. JSU's Grant White drove through the lane to put the Gamecocks up 57-50 with 3:28.
Jacksonville State knocked down 13 free throws in the final stretch to pick up its' first OVC win. TSU did manage to put the game within six points, but it was too late.
Tennessee State returns to the friendly confines of the Gentry Center on Wednesday, Jan. 11 when the Tigers host Morehead State. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.
-- TSU TIGERS --