Chris Olivier had just joined Eastern Illinois a little over a month ago and already has a game winning bucket. His tip-in with two seconds left gave the Panthers a come from behind win, putting them atop the OVC for the time being.
With 5:20 to play in the game, it looked like the Tigers were going to get their first Division I win of the season and to make it sweeter, start 1-0 in the OVC.
Eastern Illinois began to creep back into the game. Alex Austin buried a three to cut the lead to one at 69-68 with 22 seconds left. The Panthers fouled Jay Harris sending him to the line for the 1-and-1. Harris was unable to connect setting up Olivier’s heroics.
Olivier got the rebound gave it up to Sherman Blanford who missed a jumper, missed his own tip-in and that’s when Olivier came to the rescue for EIU.
Both teams had impressive comebacks in this game. Tennessee State turned a 13 point first half deficit to a 10 point lead with over four minutes to play.
Chris Olivier came off the bench to collect his first double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds but it was Sherman Blanford who led the team in scoring with 15.
Patrick Miller has his second 30 point game of the season leading the way for the Tigers.
Tennessee State tried to take the air out of the ball a little too early. The Tigers took a 63-53 lead with 4:11 left and stopped doing what got them the lead. How many teams have seen that strategy come back to bite them?
For a team that doesn’t shoot threes all that well 25 attempts is too many. Eastern Illinois hit 7 of them for 28% from behind the arc. (Editors Note: Blame the TSU zone. After switching to that late in the first half, EIU’s offense went stale. The Panthers spent too much time passing the ball around the perimeter, and stopped setting screens and attacking the basket.)
Patrick Miller is the only reason the Tigers will have a chance against the rest of the OVC teams. Miller made 2 of his 3 attempts from downtown and 10 of 11 from the line. He’s a strong guard, that can get to the basket and when he’s hitting threes lookout. This guy will single-handedly win some conference games for TSU and let’s be honest he will have to.
An opening loss on the road for TSU is not the end of the world, especially when you’re playing in front of a raucous crowd of nearly 400. (That was generous). But, the Tigers ability to fight back and have the lead with just a couple seconds left was at least semi-impressive.
Still not sure what this game means though. This was expected, a close game between two teams that have struggled in the out-of-conference. Does this mean that the Panthers and Tigers will finish right where we thought they would? Bottom of the conference? Or do the runs that both the teams went on make us think that maybe they are capable of hanging in with some of the elite teams in the conference? Probably the former, but for EIU this is the biggest win of the season so far and hey, if the season ended today they would have a one seed in Nashville. Correct?
TWEET OF THE GAME
— 28th & Jefferson (@28andJefferson) December 28, 2013