Tennessee State men’s hoops begins OVC Tournament play Thursday

Courtesy of Tennessee State Athletics

OPENING TIP: Tennessee State is entering its 31st Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and the third time as the fourth seed on Thursday when it will face the winner of the first-round contest between 5th-seed SEMO and 8th-seed Lindenwood. TSU split with SEMO and swept Lindenwood who is making its first appearance in the eight-team, four-round, two-bracket extravaganza in Evansville, Indiana.

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 (18-13 10-8 OVC) vs TBA
Round: OVC Quarterfinals 
Date/Time: Thursday, March 2 at 6:30 PM
Location: Ford Center || Evansville, Ind. 
Radio102.1 FM The Ville — Greg Pogue (pxp), Albert Dawson (analyst)

TSU in the OVCs: The Tigers enter the tournament with a 14-28 mark since making their first appearance in the 1988 tournament held in Murray, Kentucky. It took five more seasons for the Tigers to win their first conference tournament game in 1993, the same season they won the OVC Championship. The following season, 1994, TSU claimed its second straight OVC crown. Since then (28 years), TSU has been the top seed once (1995), second seed twice (1996, 2012), and fourth seed three times (2013, 2016, 2023). Since their last championship victory, the Tigers have lost their last three appearances in the OVC Championship game (1998, 2008, 2012) and are 3-3 in their last six semifinal appearances. In 2011, when the OVC switched to a four-round bracket, TSU dropped three of the four quarterfinal appearances and reached the semifinals twice (2012, 2013).

Top BracketTSU Record vs. OpponentLast Tournament Meeting
SEMO0-22022 Quarterfinals — #4 Southeast Missouri 79, Tennessee State 55
Lindenwood0-0No Previous Tournament Meetings
Morehead State5-22020 First Round — #5 Tennessee State 74, #8 Morehead State 67 (OT)
Bottom BracketTSU Record vs. OpponentLast Tournament Meeting
SIUE1-02022 First Round — #5 Tennessee State 77, #8 SIUE 62
Southern Indiana0-0No Previous Tournament Meetings
UT Martin0-12011 First Round — #8 UT Martin 68, #5 Tennessee State 64
Tennessee Tech2-01994 Semifinals — #2 Tennessee State 91, Tennessee Tech 74

2022 Quarterfinals — #4 SEMO 79, #5 TSU 55
2017 First Round — #5 SEMO 78, #8 TSU 75 (OT)

No Previous Tournament meetings

2020 First Round — #5 TSU 74, #8 MSU 67 (OT)
2013 Quarterfinals — #4 TSU 88, #5 MSU 75
2012 Semifinals — #2 TSU 59, #3 MSU 52
2008 First Round — #6 TSU 68, #3 MSU 61
2002 First Round— #2 MSU 91, #7 TSU 82
1996 First Round — #2 TSU 71, #7 MSU 60
1990 First Round — #3 MSU 92, #6 TSU 89

SEMO SERIES INFORMATION: Thursday is the 58th all-time meeting between TSU and SEMO. TSU leads the series by a narrow margin, 30-27. TSU split with SEMO this season with each team winning on its home court. Last season, SEMO knocked TSU out of the OVC Tournament with a 79-55 win in the quarterfinals. The Redhawks won 92-75 in Cape Girardeau on Jan. 26, while TSU won 85-65 on Feb. 9 at the Gentry Center. 

SCOUTING SEMO: SEMO placed two players on the All-OVC Teams with Phillip Russell being selected to the first-team and was third in OVC Player of the Year voting, averaging 18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game and knocked down 72 three-pointers. Russell missed the double-overtime loss contest at Lindenwood due to a one-game suspension issued by the OVC. Chris Harris made his first appearance on second-team averaging 14.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game with 55 3-pointers made. SEMO dropped its last two games of the regular season to fall from second place to fifth place in the tournament.


TSU — Jr. Clay — 24.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 9.5 apg, 47.4 FG%, 50.0 3PT%, 63.6 FT%
SEMO — Phillip Russell — 22.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 6.5 apg, 45.5 FG%, 42.9 3PT%, 81.8 FT%

LINDENWOOD SERIES INFORMATION: Thursday will be the third all-time meeting between TSU and Lindenwood. TSU swept the season series with the Lions who made the OVC Tournament by squeaking past SEMO and Little Rock in the final week of the regular season. Both wins came in overtime with the eight-seed clinching win on Saturday against the Trojans. TSU needed a big second half to defeat the Lions on the road, 60-57 on Jan. 7. In the home contest, TSU walked over Lindenwood 83-66. 

SCOUTING LINDENWOOD: Keenon Cole was the lone player from Lindenwood named to the All-OVC Team (second-team and newcomer team). Cole averaged 13.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and shot 53.7 percent from the field. Chris Childs is right behind Cole at 13.0 ppg and shot 91.2 percent from the line. 

TSU — Jr. Clay — 17.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, 39.3 FG%, 18.2 3PT%, 76.9 FT%
Lindenwood — Chris Childs— 16.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 40.0 FG%, 42.9 3PT%, 87.5 FT%

MR. 5-TIME OVC: Although he wasn’t named OVC Player of the Year, Jr. Clay did become the first player in league history to be named to an all-conference team five times (2018-19 — 2nd Team, Newcomer Team; 2019-20 — 2nd Team; 2020-21 — 2nd Team; 2021-22 — 2nd Team; 2022-23 — 1st Team). Clay led the OVC in scoring (18.8 ppg) and assists (5.6 apg) and had the highest single-game points with 40 vs. SIUE (2/18/23). Clay also had 14 assists at SEMO (1/26/23).

ORDER ME A DOUBLE-DOUBLE: TSU finished the season with seven double-doubles thanks to three from Adong Makuoi, two from Jr. Clay, and one from David Acosta and Zion Griffin

Adong Makuoi
— 13 points, 10 rebounds vs Boyce
—18 points, 10 rebounds vs Brescia
—14 points, 10 rebounds at Tennessee Tech

Jr. Clay
—  26 points, 14 assists at SEMO
— 23 points, and 10 rebounds at Southern Indiana

David Acosta
— 14 points, 11 rebounds vs Boyce

Zion Griffin
— 19 points, 10 rebounds vs Lindenwood

FORD M1F 15: TSU is 12-4 this season when Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. scored 15 or more points as opposed to the 1-5 mark when he scores less than five points. In the seven games this season that Fitzgerald reached 20 or more points, six of those games occurred at the Gentry Center, and the team is 12-3 this season when he hits at least two 3-pointers. In his career, TSU is 10-3 when Fitzgerald shoots 66.7 percent from the outside.

HOW TO PLAY 31: Four members of the TSU roster have seen action in all 31 games this season — Adong MakuoiZool KuethJustin Williams, and David Acosta.

NO MORE THAN 33: An interesting stat to look at for Dedric Boyd, TSU is 6-0 when Boyd plays between 30-33 minutes but is 0-5 when he plays more than 33 minutes.

19’s or BETTER FOR Z: When Zion Griffin scores 19 or more points this season, TSU is 5-0. The Tigers are also 5-0 when he knocks down seven or more field goals. 

LEGAL AGE OF 18: The 2022-23 team now sits tied for fifth all-time in TSU single-season wins (18) in the 46 seasons as a D1 program.

AGGRESSIVE ADONG: In games where Adong Makuoi is aggressive on the glass TSU is 5-0 when he pulls down four or more offensive rebounds. 

THERE IS NO DANA, ONLY ZOOL: The artist known as Kueth has assisted the Tigers to a 12-3 mark when he scores four or more points per game. Kueth set a season-best with 11 points against Lindenwood (1/28/23) and Southern Indiana (3/2/23). 

LUCKY #13: The 2022-23 team tied TSU’s D1 record for most home wins with 13 and set a new record since joining the OVC. The 1979-80 team also won 13 home games playing an independent schedule. 

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