Belmont (12-7) at Tennessee State (2-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentry Center (10,500) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Belmont 5-1, TSU 2-5. Away Record: Belmont 5-6, TSU 0-11. Neutral Record: Belmont 2-0, TSU 0-2. Conference Record: Belmont 4-1, TSU 1-5. Series Record: Belmont leads, 11-8.
GAME NOTES: The Ohio Valley Conference East Division-leading Belmont Bruins travel to the Gentry Center to take on the last-place Tennessee State Tigers.
Belmont won its first four conference games before getting tripped up at Eastern Kentucky on Thursday night, 74-63. The Bruins, who have gone 7-6 outside of campus this season, will wrap up a four-game road trip this evening.
Tennessee State's only victory against a Division I opponent this season came against league foe Jacksonville State on Jan. 4. However, the Tigers have since dropped four in a row as they concluded a three-game road swing with a 70-64 setback in the rematch in Thursday's rematch with JSU.
Belmont holds an 11-8 advantage in the all-time series. These teams faced each other in the semifinal round of last year's OVC Tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, where the top-seeded Bruins claimed an 82-73 victory
Belmont's game against EKU this week featured 12 ties and five lead changes, but the Colonels broke a 48-48 tie midway through the second half with a 13-0 run and never looked back. The Bruins held a 37-24 rebounding advantage and were +14 in second-chance points for the game. However, they also committed 20 turnovers and shot a season-low 37.5 percent from the floor, while EKU shot 52 percent. Craig Bradshaw led all scorers with 22 points in the loss. Drew Windler and J.J. Mann chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. That trio has been at the forefront for Belmont throughout the season. Mann, an 89- percent free-throw shooter, paces the squad with 16.4 ppg. Bradshaw (15.6 ppg) and Windler (11.5 ppg) have done most of their damage beyond the perimeter, where they have combined to shoot a healthy 49 percent (80-of-164).
In comparison, Tennessee State is shooting just 26.8 percent as a team from 3- point range and is -8.2 in scoring margin this season. Still, the Tigers do have standout guard Patrick Miller, who leads the OVC in scoring with 22.2 ppg. M.J. Rhett has also been a steady contributor, as he is shooting 53 percent from the floor while averaging 10.4 points and a team-best 9.7 rebounds per tilt. After giving up 100 points or more in each of their previous two outings, the Tigers held JSU to 70 points in Thursday's matchup. However, the Gamecocks built a sizeable 17-point halftime lead behind a 58.3- percent shooting effort in the opening frame and TSU was never able to catch up in the second stanza. Miller scored 21 in the loss, while Rhett finished with 12 points and 10 boards for his 10th double-double of the season.
The Tigers will need another big game from Miller and Rhett to stay competitive in this one, but can anyone else step up? On the opposite bench, Belmont will no doubt be hungry to get back into the win column coming off a tough loss.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 74, Tennessee State 64
01/18 10:25:37 ET