In the first season of divisional play in the Ohio Valley Conference, if there was one team that would have a legitimate gripe about divisional strength, it would have to be Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles are in the hunt for a spot in March’s OVC Tournament, but must find a way to get their wins in the much tougher East Division, compared to the softer West.
That leaves Tennessee Tech in need of an upset or two. Enter Tennessee State.
After a 6-0 start to conference play, much of it without their star Robert Covington, things have turned south for the Tigers, losing three straight against the other three teams fighting atop the Eastern Division.
For the most part, Tennessee State’s recent losses have followed a common theme: struggle early, and attempt to rally late. Even the scores are nearly identical, with TSU in the high 60’s, and their opponents in the high 70’s. It’s hard to blame the loss of Covington for the Tigers woes, at least not on the offensive end. Tennessee State is third in scoring efficiency in OVC play, but it often has come in waves. The Tigers defense has been a sore spot, a fairly common theme across the conference this season.
Teams facing Tennessee Tech have clearly been honing in on Jud Dillard with varying degrees of success. Murray State and SEMO were able to hold the senior guard farily well in check, something that couldn’t be said about EIU, SIU Edwardsville or Austin Peay. Tennessee State held Dillard to just 13 points in their first matchup, as he was limited somewhat by fould trouble, playing just 28 minutes.
Dillard is starting to get some consistent help as well, especially from junior forward Dennis Ogbe. If you take out his foul-plagued game against SIU Edwardsville, where Ogbe fouled out in an impressive 16 minutes, Ogbe has scored double figures in five straight games. Ogbe’s foul trouble against the Cougars is far from an isolated incident, as the forward has finished the last five games with either four fouls, or fouled out.
With the East Division title race all but over, Tennessee State is looking more to hold tight until Covington can return to the lineup. A single-bye in Nashville is very much still within their grasp, but their room for error is quite small, as long as Morehead State continues to get wins.