The Tennessee State men’s basketball team isn’t waiting until next year.
With three Division I transfers eligible at the start of 2011-12 and no seniors on this year’s squad, the Tigers should be loaded for a breakout campaign.
After Saturday’s 76-74 overtime win over Ohio Valley Conference foe Austin Peay, however, it doesn’t appear Tennessee State is packing it in this season. The Tigers knocked off the visiting Governors, who had been undefeated in league play, in a nationally televised game on ESPNU and in front of nearly 6,000 fans at the Gentry Center.
Tennessee State improved to just 8-9 but is 5-2 in the OVC, which is tied with Murray State for second in the league standings.
That is a huge accomplishment considering that at one point this season the Tigers were playing with just six scholarship players and two walk-ons.
TSU used eight players on Saturday, too, but half of them scored in double figures. Kenny Moore scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds, Wil Peters chipped in 16, Patrick Miller added 15 and Robert Covington scored 13 and grabbed 14 boards.
Collectively it was enough to overcome Austin Peay’s TyShwan Edmondson, who had 33 points and seven 3-pointers.
The Tigers blew a 16-point first-half lead and trailed by seven with just more than three minutes remaining in regulation. They battled back though, and took advantage of mistakes by Austin Peay (12-7, 6-1 OVC). The Governors were 10-of-18 from the free-throw line and were outrebounded 52-35.
Moore grabbed a big rebound off his own miss and scored with 16.2 seconds left to send it to overtime. After their six-point lead in overtime was erased, Peters hit the game-winner with 2.1 seconds to go.
TSU has come a long way after losing six of its first seven and having to deal with a short bench most of the season. Second-year head coach John Cooper dismissed four players for violating team rules last year, setting up another limited lineup going into this winter.
“Is it the right nine guys?” Cooper said before the season. “We won’t know until the season gets going.”
It appears these nine are doing just fine.
• Two Tigers earn weekly OVC honors: Peters was named the Ohio Valley Conference’s player of the week. Moore, a transfer from Midland Community College, earned the league’s co-newcomer of the week honor.
Peters, a Whites Creek product, scored nine of Tennessee State’s 11 points in overtime and finished with 16 points. The junior guard also had seven rebounds, nine assists and one steal.
Moore, a junior forward and native of Philadelphia, recorded his fourth double-double of the season.
The Tigers host Jacksonville State at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Gentry Center.
• Belmont’s Clark named A-Sun player of the week: Belmont sophomore guard Ian Clark was named this week’s Atlantic Sun Conference player of the week, the league announced Tuesday.
The Memphis native averaged 16 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals in two games as the Bruins rolled past Lipscomb and Campbell. He had 12 points in Belmont’s rout of rival Lipscomb last Thursday. He had a season-high 20 points and matched a career-high with five assists against Campbell on Saturday. He was 7-of-8 from the field against the Fighting Camels. In the two games he was 8-of-12 (66 percent) from 3-point range.
The Bisons (16-3, 8-0 A-Sun) return to action on Friday when they travel to USC Upstate.
• Cumberland’s Sweat named player of the week: Michael Sweat, a junior forward for Cumberland, was selected as this week’s TranSouth Athletic Conference men’s basketball player of the week, the league announced on Monday.
Sweat, a native of Gallatin, averaged 19 points and five rebounds in his first two starts last week for the Bulldogs (8-7, 4-1 TranSouth). He had 22 points and seven rebounds against Trevecca Nazarene on Saturday and 16 points and three rebounds against Blue Mountain College last Thursday.
In the two games, Sweat, a 6-foot-7, 198 pound transfer from Columbia State Community College, shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from the field, was 54 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range and made all eight free throws he attempted.
• Vanderbilt to host baseball banquet: The Vanderbilt baseball team will hold its annual Meet the Commodores Baseball Banquet at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 inside the Student Life Center, which is across from Memorial Gymnasium.
There will be a silent auction and dinner followed by head coach Tim Corbin discussing the upcoming season and this year’s roster.
Adult tickets are $30 and children’s tickets (13 and under) are $25. Seating is open and full tables will not be sold. To purchase tickets, call 615-322-4653 or visit vucommodores.com.