GAME NOTES: The Tennessee State Tigers face a tough task in their season opener as they invade the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah for a non-conference clash with the BYU Cougars. This is the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the basketball court.
The Tigers are under new leadership as Travis Williams was promoted from within to head coach after John Cooper exited to take over at Miami-Ohio. Cooper left after Tennessee State finished 20-13 and upset Murray State on the road last year, which was the Racers' only regular-season loss. Williams inherited one of the Ohio Valley Conference's top teams after spending the past three seasons as an assistant with the program. His only previous head coaching experience was in China's National Basketball League. Williams will have his work cut out for him as TSU begins the season with a six-game road trip, and has lost its last six season openers.
BYU looks to continue its amazing success under Dave Rose. In each of the last six seasons, Rose has led the program to 25-plus wins and the NCAA Tournament, both of which are program records. Only Kansas has a longer streak of consecutive seasons with 25 wins or more. Rose has done a tremendous job in recruiting to make the Cougars relevant. BYU managed to earn an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament and finished 12-4 in the West Coast Conference in its first season in the league.
Williams inherits a very good OVC team even with the losses of Wil Peters and Kenny Moore. The Tigers should continue to run their offense through NBA prospect Robert Covington, who could be named the OVC Player of the Year at season's end. Covington averaged 17.8 points and 7.9 rebounds in 2011-12 despite being the main focus of every opposing coaching staff. Jordan Cyphers and Kellen Thornton are both key role players. Cyphers is an excellent three- point shooter, and Thornton led the team with 18 points in its recent exhibition win over Trevecca.
BYU has one of the best one-two punches in the nation with Brandon Davies at forward and Matt Carlino at point guard. Davies was a monster inside last season with averages of 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The senior is on the preseason All-WCC team. Carlino averaged 12.2 points and 4.6 assists per contest as a freshman last year. Carlino's assist totals could go up this season with Brock Zylstra and Tyler Haws spotting up out on the perimeter. Both wings are excellent shooters. Nate Austin provides a big body in the middle to clog up driving lanes.
BYU has the toughness inside to give Covington trouble. Carlino should be able to pick apart TSU's defense as BYU cruises to an easy win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 83, Tennessee State 70
11/09 10:37:39 ET
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