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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ellis Johnson Arena (6,500) -- Morehead, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: TSU 8-0. Morehead State 7-3. Away Record: TSU 3-8, Morehead State 2-8. Neutral Record: TSU 1-1, Morehead State 1-0. Conference Record: TSU 6-2, Morehead State 4-3. Series Record: Morehead State leads, 30-26.
GAMES NOTES: The Tennessee State Tigers wrap up a three-game road trip and try to end a short losing streak when they take on the Morehead State Eagles in Ohio Valley Conference action at Ellis Johnson Arena.
A 76-67 loss to Eastern Kentucky on Thursday has the Tigers on the losing end of consecutive games for the first time since mid-November during the Coaches versus Cancer Classic. The slide has dropped Tennessee State to 12-9 overall and into fourth place in the league standings at 6-2. The road has proved a perilous place for the Tigers who are just 3-8 in away contests on the season. The Tigers get a one-game reprieve at home against Tennessee Tech next before playing consecutive games on the road.
Morehead State had a short two-game winning streak put to an end in heartbreaking fashion with a 64-63 loss to conference leading Belmont on Thursday. The Eagles are now 10-11 on the campaign with a 4-3 ledger against league competition. The loss came on their home floor where the Eagles have generally been tough to beat with a 7-3 mark at Ellis Johnson Arena this season. The Eagles won't have to wait long for another shot at the Bruins as they face them on the road next Thursday.
Tennessee State knocked Morehead State out of the OVC Tournament last season to earn its third win in the last four meetings. Morehead State still owns a 30-26 lead in the all-time series however.
The Tigers allowed Eastern Kentucky to shoot better than 55 percent from the floor while making good on only 37.3 percent of their own field-goal attempts in the nine-point loss on Thursday. Tennessee State was also beat up on the inside, with the Colonels owning a 34-20 edge in points in the paint.
With leading scorer Robert Covington (17.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg) still sidelined by injury, the Tigers have managed to remain competitive thanks to the efforts of three double figure scorers. Chief among them is Kellen Thornton (14.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg) who has also picked up the mantle of top rebounder from Covington. Patrick Miller (13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.4 apg) has made it a habit of producing across the board and not just by shooting the ball. Miller leads the conference in assists and is among the top 10 players in steals as well. Jordan Cyphers (11.8 ppg) has also been contributing nicely on the score sheet. However there isn't much depth beyond those three with no other player scoring more than five points per game. In all the Tigers are scoring 67.8 points per game, while shooting a mere .425, good enough for just 10th in the OVC.
After leading by as many as 14 points against Belmont, the upset-minded Eagles were unable to finish the job as they collapsed in the second half. A 3- pointer from J.J. Mann with 1:13 left put Belmont ahead 64-63 to cap off an 11-2 run by the Bruins and in the final minute the Eagles missed both of their shots from the floor.
Despite having just one player averaging in double figures, Morehead State has held its own on the offensive end. The Eagles are scoring a respectable 71.1 points per game on the year despite just a 42.7 field goal percentage. The Eagles have also had the benefit of being the top rebounding squad in the OVC (37.9 pg). The balanced attack for the Eagles, that features six players scoring at least seven points per game, is led by Milton Chavis (11.8 ppg). Chavis has missed some games recently though and has yet to show the scoring production he had when he scored in double figures in seven straight games to begin the season. Angelo Warner (9.3 ppg) is the second option on the squad, while Chad Posthumus (7.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) leads the way on the boards.
Morehead State clashed with arguably the best team in the OVC and came within one shot of pulling off the upset. Look for the Eagles to build off of that strong effort against a struggling Tennessee State squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Morehead State 71, Tennessee State 65
01/26 11:20:06 ET