SE Missouri State (10-8) at Tennessee State (10-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentry Center (10,500) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: SEMO 6-2, TSU 6-0. Away Record: SEMO 4-4, TSU 3-6. Neutral Record: SEMO 0-2, TSU 1-1. Conference Record: SEMO 2-2, TSU 4-0. Series Record: Tennessee State leads, 23-17.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee State Tigers try to protect their first-place standing in the Ohio Valley Conference, as they host the SE Missouri State Redhawks at the Gentry Center on Saturday night.
SEMO produced a four-game winning streak that extended into OVC bouts against Tennessee-Martin and Austin Peay, but the run came to an end with a 74-66 loss to Murray State. It then suffered a 107-72 setback to Belmont in Nashville on Thursday. The Redhawks' second loss in OVC action lowered their overall record to 10-8, and also made them an even 4-4 on the road. Coach Dickey Nutt's squad is decent at the offensive end with 71.6 points per game on 45.6 percent field goal efficiency, however it is even better at the other end where it ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.394).
The Tigers have been on a roll lately as they picked up their fifth win in a row on Thursday by completing an 80-48 rout of Tennessee-Martin at the Gentry Center. The victory boosted TSU's OVC record to 4-0, giving it more league wins than any other school. coach Travis Williams has been impressive in his first season at the helm of the program, especially considering all of his squad' triumphs during the current streak have come without star forward Robert Covington.
SEMO did not appear to be one of the best defensive teams in the league its last time out. Belmont opened up the contest by shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 5-of-14 from 3-point range, as the Bruins took a commanding 48-29 lead at the break. It then went on to drill 67.6 percent of its field goal tries, including 6-of-9 from 3-point distance in the second half. Meanwhile, the Redhawks went 7-of-26 from beyond the arc to be left in the dust. Tyler Stone scored 18 points, A.J. Jones finished with 13 points, and Marland Smith chimed in with 10 points. Stone is pacing the team with 17.0 ppg, which he partners with 8.2 rpg. Corey Wilford is also a steady contributor at 13.8 ppg, but Nino Johnson is going to be the key for the Redhawks. The 6-8 sophomore forward is near a double-double average (11.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and can make a big impact by producing points on the interior, but he needs to stay out of foul trouble and limit his turnovers (2.7 per game).
TSU will once again be without Covington on Saturday, but it showed it can stay afloat with him absent versus UTM. The Tigers had a red-hot shooting night as they went 25-of-49 from the field (51 percent), 10-of-21 from long distance (47.6 percent), and 20-of-23 at the free throw line (87 percent). TSU now holds .503 field goal percentage in conference games this season, which is second-best in the OVC Kellen Thornton scored 13 points, Patrick Miller added 12, and all 11 players who took the floor for the Tigers scored at least two points. With Covington out, Miller has produced 18.4 ppg during the current five-game winning streak, and Jordan Cyphers is close behind with 13.8 ppg during the same span.
The Tigers have proven they can win without Covington in the lineup and there seems to be no stopping them in their house. SEMO needs a huge outing from Johnson or it will most likely become the Tigers' next victim.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee State 72, SE Missouri State 61
01/12 10:56:03 ET