Last year’s tournament runner-ups returned a huge portion of their team from last season’s championship game run, but found mixed success against the top of the conference. After a 6-0 start to OVC play, Tennessee State had mixed results down the stretch, with an overtime win on senior night the only thing standing between the Tigers and a 3-game losing streak heading into Nashville.
Tennessee State 17-13 (11-5)
2/14 vs Belmont (80-69)
3/2 vs EKU (85-81)
11/21 vs Monmouth (81-70)
Against The Bracket
#5 Morehead State (0-2)
#8 UT Martin (1-0)
#1 Belmont (1-1)
#6 SEMO (1-0)
#7 EIU (1-0)
#3 EKU (1-1)
#2 Murray State (0-1)
- Rebounding: First in the OVC in rebounds per game. (32.9) Second in rebounding percentage. (52.3%)
- Scoring: Third in points per possession, (1.091) two-point shooting percentage. (51.7%) Second in free-throw percentage. (76.3%)
- Turnovers: Ninth in the OVC in turnovers per game. (14.6) 11th in forced turnovers per game. (12.6)
Players to Watch
- F Robert Covington (16.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 spg)
- F Kellen Thorton (15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg)
- G Patrick Miller (14.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.5 apg)
From this point on in our primers, it’s win or bust. Especially for the team just two points away from an NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago.
The draw is none-too-kind to the Tigers. Not only will they have to go through the top seed, they’ll could also face a Morehead State team that swept the season series. The Tigers were in both games, and will essentially have home-court advantage for third matchup.
Being one of only two Ohio Valley Conference teams this season to beat Belmont has to be cause for confidence as well.
When you look at the talent on this roster, you see champion-caliber players. They did play without arguably their best player in Robert Covington for an extended period of time this year, but they’re just 10-9 with him in the lineup. Despite the talent, they just haven’t been able to put it together for an extended period of time over the past few months.
But the experience factor could be huge. These guys know what it’s like, and know what it takes to win here. Head coach Travis Williams said after the Tigers win on Saturday the key was focus, blocking out all the distractions for one week. Thorton and Covington said after last year, they know they have to be able to finish out games strong.
Can they win three games in three days? Absolutely. But being the third best team in their division, Tennessee State has a uphill battle in their own backyard.