Belmont (20-5) at Tennessee State (14-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentry Center (10,500) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Belmont 10-0, TSU 9-0. Away Record: Belmont 8-4, TSU 4-10. Neutral Record: Belmont 2-1, TSU 1-1. Conference Record: Belmont 11-1, TSU 8-4. Series Record: Series is tied, 9-9.
GAME NOTES: The Belmont Bruins look to take another step towards the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title as they visit the Gentry Center for a league bout against the Tennessee State Tigers.
This will be the 19th meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Belmont evened the series with a 78-66 win at home on Jan. 19 as Ian Clark posted 22 points, six rebounds, six assists, and four steals in the decision. The second clash of the season is sure to have a different complexion as TSU will have its star senior forward Robert Covington available for the grudge match.
The Bruins have been nearly perfect in their first tour of the OVC, collecting 11 wins to just one, five-point loss at Murray State on Feb. 7. The dominance of the conference has helped Belmont arrive at a 20-5 overall record. Clark has been sensational all season long on his way to 19.2 ppg with a very deadly 51.2 percent efficiency rating from 3-point range.
In the first game after falling to the Racers, J.J. Mann posted 26 points to propel Belmont to a 78-65 decision at Austin Peay. Clark connected on five attempts from beyond the arc en route to 25 points, which he accompanied with five assists and four steals. Belmont shot 46.7 percent (28-for-60) from the field, including 14-for-24 from 3-point distance in the rout. The Bruins recorded 12 steals to tally 23 points off 16 Austin Peay turnovers while allowing the Governors to hit on 46 percent of their field goal tries. Belmont has accrued a collection of double-digit victories this season and owns a +16.2 ppg scoring margin versus OVC foes.
Tennessee State was also unable to keep up with the Racers as it fell, 69-48, to Murray State on Saturday to have its two-game winning streak snapped. The setback dropped the Tigers to a 14-11 overall standing including its 8-4 mark in league play. Covington leads TSU in scoring with 16.5 ppg and also grabs 7.5 boards per tilt while Kellen Thornton contributed 14.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest.
Belmont will find it difficult to win at the Gentry Center, where TSU is undefeated in nine outings on the season. The Tigers had decent production from Covington (11 points, 12 rebounds), Thornton (12 points, nine rebounds), and Patrick Miller (12 points) at Murray State, but the team committed 19 turnovers which allowed the Racers to hold a 24-6 edge in points off of miscues. TSU also shot just 28.8 percent from the floor in the setback.
The cold shooting will have to end quickly for TSU if it has any chance of taking down Belmont. The strong duo of Thornton and Covington will give the Tigers a fighting chance, but they will have to hope Clark and Mann catch a cold from the floor or this one could turn into a lopsided affair in a hurry.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 78, Tennessee State 70
02/14 10:40:57 ET