Tennessee State basketball to begin conference play against Morehead State

Courtesy of Tennessee State Athletics

After finishing the nonconference slate with an 8-5 record, the Tennessee State men’s basketball team has one thing on its mind and it’s the road to Evansville, Indiana, and the Ford Center where the OVC Trophy will be hoisted above Center Court just past 9 PM on March 4 with the victor headed to the NCAA Tournament. We begin season two in Nashville as the Tigers open league play against Morehead State (Thursday) and Little Rock (Saturday) before the start of the New Year. 

WHERE TO WATCH & LISTEN: TSU expanded its partnership with Cromwell Media, naming 102.1 FM The Ville as the flagship TSU men’s basketball station. “The Voice of the Tigers” Greg Pogue returns for his 11th season behind the mic and will be reunited with his longtime partner Albert Dawson. The pregame show will begin 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the contest not the actual tip time in doubleheader situations. The action can also be heard on the TSU Tigers app.

The Matchup: Tennessee State Tigers (8-5, 0-0 OVC) vs Morehead State Eagles (7-6, 0-0 OVC)
Date/Time: Thursday, December 27 at 8:00 p.m. CT (approx 30 minutes after the WBB game)
Location: Gentry Center || NASHVILLE
TV:  ESPN+ — Will Brown (pxp), Ron Slay (analyst)
Radio102.1 FM The Ville — Greg Pogue (pxp), Albert Dawson (analyst)

MOREHEAD STATE SERIES INFORMATION: Thursday is the 83rd meeting between TSU and Morehead State. The Eagles are 44-38 all-time against TSU and are riding a four-game winning streak. In Nashville though, TSU has won 15 of 38 appearances but has not seen as much success up North. The last TSU victory in Nashville was on March 4, 2020, a 74-67 overtime win for the Tigers. 

SCOUTING MOREHEAD STATE: Coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons, Morehead State retooled in the offseason with a pair of transfer acquisitions that added size and speed for head coach Preston Spradling. Graduate transfer Alex Gross from Olivet Nazarene scored over 2,000+ points for the NAIA school and leads the Eagles with 12.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest while shooting 61.9 percent from the field and 74 percent from the line in 22,7 minutes per game. The other transfer leading Morehead is former TSU point guard Mark Freeman. In 11 games, Freeman is second in scoring at 11.2 points and leads the squad with 3.7 assists per game. In its nonconference slate, Morehead State has defeated four non-D1 opponents while picking up D1 wins over Bellarmine, East Tennessee State, and Georgia Southern.  

SEASON ONE HOME RECAP: Jr Clay made the most of his six Gentry home games averaging 19.3 points while shooting 55.4 from the field and knocking down 17 triples for a 40.5 percent clip in 30.8 minutes per contest. Clay is the lone Tiger to reach double figures in all home games he’s played this season. The graduate transfer is second on the team with 30 assists, one behind leader Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. who is third in home scoring with 16.0 points per game. Fitzgerald, the top home defensive player with 10 steals is also a key contributor from the free throw line leading the squad at 89.6 percent. TSU got a big pickup with the return of Christian Brown who missed a majority of last season due to injury. Brown is second in Gentry scoring at 16.6 points per game and is showing his pure athleticism getting to the lane and the charity stripe. With its 7-1 mark at home, TSU set a new program record for the best out-of-conference start under its modern structure.

REVERSE THE CURSE: Thursday starts the 35th season of OVC play for Tennessee State University. The Tigers are 13-21 in conference openers and have dropped five out of the last six to start the second season and 11 of the previous 14 dating back to 2008. 

TSU was … in nonconference only

– 8-2 when scoring 70+ points
– 7-1 when scoring 80+ points 
– 8-0 when connecting on 47.2 % or better from the field. 
– 8-3 when Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. scored in double figures.
– 4-0 when Jr Clay knocks down three or more 3-pointers.
– 5-2 when hitting eight or more 3-pointers as a team.
– 5-0 when hitting 30 or more field goals as a team.
– 5-0 when pulling down 37 or more rebounds in a game.
– 5-2 when the opposition shoots under .375 from the outside.
– 5-0 when the opposition gets less than 30 total rebounds.
– 5-1 when allowing less than 77 points per contest.

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