Tennessee State (7-7) at Tennessee Tech (6-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 3, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Eblen Center (9,282) -- Cooksville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Tennessee State 5-0, Tennessee Tech 4-1. Away Record: Tennessee State 1-6, Tennessee Tech 2-6. Neutral Record: Tennessee State 1-1, Tennessee Tech 0-0. Conference Record: Tennessee State 1-0, Tennessee Tech 0-1. Series Record: Tennessee Tech leads, 28-26.
GAMES NOTES: The Tennessee State Tigers will try to win three straight games for the second time this season when they take on the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in an Ohio Valley Conference bout at the Eblen Center.
In its Ohio Valley Conference opener on Saturday, Tennessee State downed Eastern Illinois 67-59 to earn its second straight victory. The win also moved the Tigers back to .500 this year at 7-7. The road has been unkind however, with TSU sporting a mere 1-6 mark in away games. Tennessee State will stay on the road against Jacksonville State next.
Tennessee Tech lost to that same Jacksonville State squad last time out as the Golden Eagles lost for the third straight game. The loss dropped Tennessee Tech below .500 at 6-7. This is the first home game since Dec. 6 for Tennessee Tech which is 4-1 at the Eblen Center.
These two instate rivals have met 54 times previously with Tennessee Tech holding a 28-26 edge in those matchups. Last year the teams split the season series with the home team victorious each time.
After leading 32-19 at halftime against Eastern Illinois the Tigers coasted in the second half en route to the victory. The Tigers hit on 55.0 percent of their shots from the field and had a 31-24 edge on the boards, while leading wire to wire.
Interestingly enough the Tigers' scoring margin this season is as even as their record as they are scoring 66.1 points per game, while letting up the same amount. Tennessee State has been one of the worst shooting teams in the OVC at just 40.7 percent. The strong play of late for the Tigers has come without top scorer Robert Covington (17.7 ppg), who has missed the last two games after undergoing knee surgery. In his place, Patrick Miller (11.8 ppg, 5.6 apg) has really stepped up, including a career-high 28-points against Eastern Illinois that helped him earn OVC Player of the Week Honors. Kellen Thornton (14.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Jordan Cyphers (10.8 ppg) provide additional scoring options.
While Jacksonville State nailed 54.9 percent of its shots from the field, Tennessee Tech was successful on just 37.1 percent. The Golden Eagles were outscored from both 3-point range (21-9) and the free-throw line (20-13), but did win the battle of the boards (40-32).
The Golden Eagles have a scoring margin of -0.5 by netting 65.7 points per game on 44.4 percent shooting. Although Tennessee Tech is ranked eighth in the OVC in rebounding (33.9 pg) the Golden Eagles have managed to own a positive differential on the glass (+1.6). Jud Dillard (18.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is the unquestioned leader and best player on the floor for Tennessee Tech. The 6-foot-5 swingman is one of two players getting more than 30 minutes of court time per game and has scored in double figures in 11 games overall, including the last four. There aren't many scoring options beyond Dillard though, as Jeremiah Samarrippas (9.8 ppg) is the second option.
Even without Covington, Tennessee State has been playing well of late. The momentum should continue for the Tigers especially if Miller keeps up his elevated play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee State 69, Tennessee Tech 61
01/03 10:45:31 ET