Drexel (2-5) at Tennessee State (3-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 4, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentry Center (10,500) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Drexel 0-2, TSU 1-0. Away Record: Drexel 1-1, TSU 1-4. Neutral Record: Drexel 1-2, TSU 2-1. Conference Record: Drexel 0-0, TSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams with losing records will try to turn things around when the Drexel Dragons invade the Gentry Center to face off with the Tennessee State Tigers in a non-conference tilt.
After posting a 29-win season a year ago, Drexel has really hit on some hard times in the beginning of this campaign. The Dragons have put up just a 2-5 record over the first seven games including losses in three of the last four games. Drexel has split its two road contests but is coming off a 75-66 home loss to Rider. This is the first of three straight road games for the Dragons, who face Princeton next.
The Tigers haven't exactly had a stellar start to the season either at 3-5 overall. However Tennessee State has begun to make moves back towards .500 with wins in each of its last two games, including an 83-72 defeat of Alabama A&M in its last outing. The Tigers are playing just their second home game of the season and will face Missouri on the road in its next game.
This game will mark the first time that these two squads have met up on the hardwood.
Drexel took a slim 31-30 lead into halftime against Rider but couldn't put up any defensive resistance in the second half en route to the loss. In the second half the Broncs hit 64.0 percent of their shots from the field and used a 14-0 run to pull away for good. Damion Lee did all he could to keep the Dragons in it by pouring in 28 points to go with eight rebounds.
The Dragons have been an average offensive team this season scoring 65.3 points per game, while shooting 44.3 percent from the floor. Those numbers largely fall in line with their efforts from last season. What hasn't been as effective is the Dragons' defensive pressure as teams are scoring 68.3 points per game and shooting 45.6 percent against the Dragons. Those numbers are significantly worse than least season's efforts (56.1 ppg, 39.2 FG percentage). Lee (17.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg) is a versatile guard that scores from the wings as well as inside. Frantz Massenat (14.0 ppg, 4.7 apg) runs the point and is also scoring in double figures this season. Tavon Allen (11.0 ppg) has the ability to score well but has been limited to just 11 points in the last two games. Losing Chris Fouch (16.7 ppg) to a right ankle injury in November certainly didn't help either.
Although it allowed Alabama A&M to connect on 51.9 percent of its shots in the first half, Tennessee State led 39-31 thanks to a 55.6 percent effort itself. The Tigers then closed the game out by limiting Alabama A&M to 35.7 percent shooting in the second period. Robert Covington powered the team on offense with 27 points, while also collecting six rebounds and four steals.
Tennessee State has been scoring at a decent rate of 68.8 points per game despite shooting a lowly 40.3 percent from the field. Improved shooting would certainly help the team erase the slim -0.3 scoring margin it currently owns. The Tigers have managed to crash the boards effectively with a +6.5 edge in rebounds. Covington (16.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) has been a major factor in both the team's offensive output and rebounding efforts. Covington has also been adept at disrupting opposing teams by collecting 2.5 steals a game. Kellen Thornton (15.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) is a more traditional frontline contributor. Patrick Miller (11.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 6.5 apg) will match up with Massenat but really needs to improve his shooting (37.3 FG percentage) to become a top flight point guard.
Although Tennessee State has momentum on its side, Drexel has cut its teeth against some tough competition early on. If the Dragons are going to get back to the level of success of last season they will need to start playing better defense and earning wins on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drexel 68, Tennessee State 64
12/04 10:54:29 ET