Jacksonville State (7-10) at Tennessee State (1-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentry Center (10,500) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: JSU 5-1, TSU 1-4. Away Record: JSU 1-7, TSU 1-8. Neutral Record: JSU 1-1, TSU 0-2. Conference Record: JSU 1-1, TSU 0-2. Series Record: Tennessee State leads, 12-8.
GAME NOTES: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks will attempt to steal a road win against the struggling Tennessee State Tigers, when the two teams meet in Ohio Valley Conference action at the Gentry Center on Saturday night.
Jacksonville State is making its way across town after falling to Belmont, a team that also calls Nashville home, on Thursday night. The Gamecocks had won back-to-back games prior to that contest, including a 70-65 win over Tennessee-Martin in their OVC opener. Playing on the road has not been a successful venture for Jacksonville State, which has just one win in nine tries this season.
Tennessee State is continuing a three-game homestand that began on Thursday. Getting back to the Gentry Center didn't help much for the Tigers, who fell in a 57-53 final to Tennessee Tech for their fourth straight loss and 14th in 15 chances overall this season. The stretch of home games will conclude on Tuesday when the squad takes on Middle Tennessee.
If Tennessee State can play as well as it did last year against Jacksonville State it should have a chance to put an end to its losing streak. The Tigers swept the season series in 2012-13, and owns a 12-8 edge in the all-time series as a result.
Poor defense in the second half ended Jacksonville State's chances at an upset against Belmont. The Gamecocks allowed the Bruins to hit 68.2 percent of their field goal attempts in the second half after taking a 39-37 lead at halftime.
Allowing teams to score at such an accelerated rate is not something that Jacksonville State can withstand. The Gamecocks are only scoring 67.8 ppg and shooting 43.2 percent from the floor. Those marks are good enough for 10th and ninth in the OVC, respectively. Darion Rackley (13.9 ppg) leads the way in terms of scoring, as he did against Belmont with a team-best 15 points. Brian Williams (10.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) is also averaging in double figures, while leading the team in assists. However, he has failed to be an efficient shooter, hitting 34.9 percent from the field overall after making good on just 5-of-14 tries against Belmont.
Tennessee State also coughed up a halftime lead to fall on Thursday. The Tigers led 25-22 at halftime against Tennessee Tech, but recorded only nine field goals, while hitting a miserable 7-of-17 shots from the free-throw line to let the Golden Eagles escape with the decision.
The Tigers are one of the few teams in the OVC that have been worse on offense than the Gamecocks. Tennessee State ranks 11th in the league in both scoring (65.7 ppg) and field goal percentage (.408). One of the major weaknesses for the unit is its inability to move the ball, with the team sitting dead last in assists (10.5 apg). Patrick Miller (21 ppg, 4.3 apg) does all he can to alleviate those issues as he leads the OVC in scoring, and also fits among the top-10 players in the league in assists. Scoring options are limited beyond Miller, with M.J. Rhett (10.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg) the next best option.
Miller can score. Unfortunately there aren't many other reasons to be optimistic about Tennessee State. Jacksonville State may not be the strongest offensive team, but it should have enough in the tank to squeak out a tough road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 68, Tennessee State 63
01/04 10:45:06 ET