Eastern Kentucky (23-7) at Tennessee State (16-13)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentry Center (10,500) -- Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: None. Home Record: EKU 15-1, TSU 10-2. Away Record: EKU 7-6, TSU
5-10. Neutral Record: EKU 0-0, TSU 1-1. Conference Record: EKU 12-3, TSU
10-5. Series Record: EKU leads, 28-24.
GAMES NOTES: With their seedings in the upcoming Ohio Valley Conference
Tournament already determined the Eastern Kentucky Colonels and the Tennessee
State Tigers will wrap up the regular season on Saturday at the Gentry Center.
One of just three teams in the conference with at least 20 wins overall this
season, Eastern Kentucky will be the No. 3 seed in the league tournament
giving it a bye in the first round. The Colonels have the second best record
in the OVC as a whole (12-3) second to East Division champ Belmont. However
the Colonels could earn a share of the regular season crown if Belmont loses
to Jacksonville State on Saturday. West Division winner Murray State gets the
No. 2 seed. The Colonels have won seven of their last eight games entering
Tennessee State is right behind Eastern Kentucky as it has the No. 4 seed in
the OVC Tournament locked up. That also give the Tigers, who are 16-13 overall
and 10-5 in league action, a bye in the first round. The Tigers are suffering
in a two-game skid entering this finale after a dramatic 101-100 shootout loss
to Morehead State on Thursday night.
Mike DiNunno scored 24 points and Corey Walden dropped in 22 as Eastern
Kentucky earned a 76-67 win when these teams met earlier this season. The
Colonels have won three of the last four contests between these squads and
lead the all-time series, 28-24.
With its 69-54 victory over Tennessee Tech on Thursday, Eastern Kentucky set a
school record with 23 wins. Walden had a team-high 18 points in the contest as
the Colonels forced 22 turnovers to take a 27-7 edge in points off takeaways.
Glenn Cosey added 14 points and Marcus Lewis chipped in 10 off the bench.
Eastern Kentucky's strength has been its potent offensive play. The Colonels
are among the three best teams in the OVC in points (73.6 ppg), assists (15.1
pg) and field-goal percentage (.476). However, the Colonels lack frontcourt
depth and are a terrible rebounding team, ranking third worst in the country
on the glass (27.1 rpg). The backcourt trio of DiNunno (15.1 ppg, 4.3 apg),
Cosey (15.1 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Walden (12.6 ppg) powers a guard-heavy rotation.
DiNunno also leads the tram in assists. Eric Stutz (7.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) is the
most productive frontcourt performer.
Tennessee State had a chance to steal a win against Morehead State on Thursday
but the Tigers, who trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half, were
unable to complete the comeback. The Tigers hit 10 shots from beyond the arc
in the contest and forced 21 turnovers, but allowed the Eagles to shoot 61.7
percent from the floor and 15-of-25 from 3-point range.
There is a lot of scoring depth on the roster for the Tigers. Robert Covington
(17 ppg, 7.4 rpg) missed a chunk of the season but hasn't skipped a beat since
his return. The 6-foot-9 forward has scored in double figures in all seven
games since his return, including a 23-point effort against Morehead State.
Kellen Thornton (15.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg) shoots 54.1 percent from the field as he
teams with Covington to form an effective frontcourt tandem. In the backcourt,
Patrick Miller (14.4 ppg, 5.3 apg) is the top option as well as the team's
primary ball handler. Miller is also the OVC leader in assists, while Jordan
Cyphers (12.1 ppg) provides additional scoring despite, shooting just 36.8
percent from the field.
If Tennessee State is going to win this game it needs to really lean on
Covington and Thornton to take advantage of their edge in the frontcourt. If
the Tigers can punish the Colonels in the paint they may just end the season
on a high note.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee State 75, Eastern Kentucky 72
03/02 10:34:20 ET