Tennessee State (0-1) at South Dakota State (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 13, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frost Arena (6,500) -- Brookings, South Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: TSU 0-0, SDSU 0-0. Away Record: TSU 0-1, SDSU 0-1. Neutral Record: TSU 0-0, SDSU 0-0. Conference Record: TSU 0-0, SDSU 0-0. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: A pair of teams seeking their first win of the 2012-13 campaign square off in Brookings on Tuesday, as the Tennessee State Tigers visit the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
First-year head coach Travis Williams was unable to lead the Tigers to victory in their season opener last Friday, as they dropped an 81-66 decision at BYU. Tennessee State came into this season off its first 20-win campaign since 1979 and its first winning season since 1996. As part of a three-game road trip to kick things off, the Tigers will next face Minnesota in Minneapolis.
A three-pointer at the buzzer by Alabama's Trevor Lacey dashed South Dakota State's hopes in its season opener, as the Jackrabbits fell in a 70-67 verdict. It was quite a strong performance for SDSU, which is coming off a stellar 27-8 season that ended in an NCAA Tournament appearance. Next up for South Dakota State is this Friday's 2k Sports Classic matchup with Hofstra in New York.
South Dakota State won the only other meeting between these two teams, taking an 82-80 decision on the road in 2004.
The Tigers stayed close with BYU in the first half even though they shot just 38.5 percent from the floor. Tennessee State trailed 34-28 at the break thanks to a 12-6 advantage in points from beyond the arc. The Tigers dropped to a paltry 31 percent shooting effort in the second half, which included a 2-of-10 effort from three-point range.
The shooting struggles most severely effected Tennessee State's top returning scorers. Robert Covington, who averaged 17.8 points per game last season, managed to hit only 2-of-12 shots from the floor and finished with nine points in 19 minutes of action. Covington's time was limited due to foul trouble as he finished with five personal fouls. Patrick Miller (10.8 ppg) was the only other player on the roster who averaged in double figures last season, and although he scored 12 points in the opener the junior guard needed a ton of shots to do so. Miller went 3-of-10 from the floor, but did do a good job getting his teammates involved by handing out nine assists. Kellen Thornton showed his ability to score at a high level by dumping in 20 points, while ripping down eight rebounds which tied M.J. Rhett for the team lead. Thornton scored 9.1 points per game primarily as a reserve last season, but excelled in the starting lineup where he should reside all season.
South Dakota State led by as many as 13 points in its opener against Alabama, but couldn't hold on in the end. The Jackrabbits trailed by seven points (62-55) with a little more than four minutes to go but went on a 12-5 run capped by a three-pointer from Tony Fiegen with 34 seconds left that tied the score at 67-67. However, SDSU was unable to get a final stop to send it to overtime.
The loss meant South Dakota State had wasted a stellar effort from guard Nate Wolters. The senior poured in 30 points on a 10-of-15 shooting night that included a 5-of-6 effort from beyond the arc. Wolters played all 40 minutes, which falls in line with his output last season when he led the team in minutes (35.8 pg), points (21.2 pg), rebounds (5.1 pg) and assists (5.9 pg). Jordan Dykstra (11.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) was a less-prolific holdover, but still a double-digit threat all season last year. He was able to score 16 points while bringing down a game-high nine rebounds against the Crimson Tide in 36 minutes on the court. Head coach Scott Nagy really worked his starters in the game with each of the starting five playing at least 32 minutes. Only two reserves got in with Taevaunn Prince scoring six points in his 18 minutes as the leader. With Wolters back its likely that South Dakota State will continue to be a strong offensive squad. Last season, the Jackrabbits ranked 23rd nationally in scoring (76.8 ppg).
Wolters and company already showed that they are not afraid to play anyone, anywhere. Now that the Jackrabbits return home against a Tennessee State squad that seems to have lost a step, that lack of fear plus a frenzied crowd to play in front of should equal a win for South Dakota State.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 77, Tennessee State 66
11/13 10:42:53 ET