Tennessee State (18-14) at Evansville (18-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 19, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Center (11,000) -- Evansville, Indiana. Television: None. CIT Record: Tennessee State 0-1, Evansville 0-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams with identical records made the cut for the postseason, as the Evansville Purple Aces play host to the Tennessee State Tigers in the first round of the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Tuesday night.
Members of the Missouri Valley Conference, the Purple Aces finished the regular season strong with four straight victories, but then were defeated by Indiana State during the MVC Tournament in Saint Louis on March 8 by a score of 51-50. Overall, Evansville was 18-14 and 10-8 in league action under head coach Marty Simmons, who has a record now of 85-102 in his six campaigns with the program.
As for the Tigers, a squad that operates in the Ohio Valley Conference, they too were 18-14 this season, marking the first time in 16 years the program has registered back-to-back winning seasons. Head coach Travis Williams may only be 58-61 in his four seasons with TSU, but this year he was able to guide his squad to an 11-2 record at home, setting a school record in the process.
In terms of conference play, Tennessee State turned in an 11-5 mark. However, when it came to road games out of conference, the Tigers won just once in seven opportunities, the lone victory coming against Alabama A&M on Dec. 1, 2012.
The Tigers took part in this tournament last season as well but fell to Mercer in the opening round. Evansville also came out on the short end when it played in this event back in 2009, falling to Belmont. At the Division I level, the Purple Aces have just three wins in 13 postseason contests.
In terms of the all-time series between these squads, they've split their only two encounters with each winning on their home floor.
On a team that is scoring 71.5 ppg this season, four players have been doing most of the damage for the Tigers. Robert Covington, who missed several games in the middle of the campaign, checks in with 17.0 ppg and is also one of the better rebounders with 7.7 per contest. Kellen Thornton, a starter in all but one game, is second the list with 15.7 ppg, as he shoots an impressive 54.5 percent from the floor and is also first with 8.0 rpg. However, the knock on Thornton is that he has limited his own bottom line with consistent foul trouble that has resulted in seven disqualifications. Patrick Miller comes in at 14.7 ppg and is first in the passing department with 191 assists, tying the school's single-season mark, while his 1,148 minutes of action set a new modern mark for the Tigers. Jordan Cyphers is responsible for another 12.3 ppg, thanks to a team-best 59 3-pointers.
One of the top scorers in the MVC and the nation this season, Colt Ryan poured in 19.6 ppg and is now second on the school's all-time scoring list with 2,181 points so it is hard to ignore his importance for the Evansville offense. A repeat performer on the All-MVC First Team Ryan, who needs just 56 points to set the new scoring standard for the Purple Aces, is much more than just a shooter though, placing first on the unit with 121 assists over the course of his 30 appearances. Ned Cox may not be a scoring machine along the same lines as Ryan, with his marginal 10.9 ppg, but between the pair they've combined to knock down 107 of the squad's 185 triples during the campaign. Cox is also a solid passer in his own right with 97 assists, trailing only Ryan and Troy Taylor (8.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 117) who logged just the second triple-double in school history this season against Creighton of all teams.
The Tigers are stacked when it comes to offense, but someone like Ryan alone is capable of carrying Evansville into the win column and that's what Tennessee State has to be careful of on Tuesday night.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Evansville 73, Tennessee State 65
03/19 10:38:23 ET