Tennessee State (0-2) at Minnesota (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Williams Arena (14,625) -- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Tennessee State 0-0, Minnesota 2-0. Away Record: Tennessee State 0-2, Minnesota 0-0. Neutral Record: Tennessee State 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Conference Record: Tennessee State 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: The Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Tennessee State Tigers have had opposite starts to the season and will get together on Thursday night in a non-conference matchup at Williams Arena.
A 20-win team a season ago, Tennessee State has not gotten off to the start it might have hoped for. The Tigers have been on the road in each of their first two contests and dropped both with losses to BYU (81-66) and South Dakota State (78-71). It will be quite awhile before the Tigers return home to play in the friendly confines of the Gentry Center, with the next three games in Atlanta as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
On the other side, Minnesota has played both of its first two games at home and come out the victor in each one. First the Golden Gophers dominated American (72-36) and then posted an 82-56 rout over Toledo this past Monday night. The Golden Gophers also had a strong season a year ago (23-15), its fourth 20-win campaign in the last five years. Minnesota remains at home against Richmond before a showdown with Duke on Thanksgiving Day as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
When these teams meet up on Thursday it will be for the first time on the hardwood.
Robert Covington's 23-point, 11-rebound double-double couldn't make up for the slow start that Tennessee State had against South Dakota State. The Tigers shot just 33.3 percent in the first half, while allowing the Jackrabbits to turn in a 59.1 percent shooting effort in the first 20 minutes.
Covington's performance against South Dakota State, even in a loss, was a good sign. The senior forward really struggled in the opener, going 2-of-12 from the floor for nine points, but improved to 8-of-17 in the second game. Covington's rebounding has been on point this season regardless of his offensive performance with an average of eight boards per game. Patrick Miller has been a consistent force through the two games, scoring 12 points in each contest while being even more important with his passing. Miller had a double- double with 10 assists against South Dakota State and has 19 total helpers thus far. The 10 assists he handed out were the most in a single game in his three-year career. Kellen Thornton didn't look nearly as effective against South Dakota State, scoring only eight points on 3-of-12 shooting after putting in 20 against BYU.
Minnesota hounded Toledo on defense in its second game of the season, holding the Rockets to 31.1 percent shooting overall including a 8-for-36 effort in the first quarter. The Golden Gophers were helped by their ability to control the boards, with Minnesota holding a massive 51-27 effort in rebounds.
Austin and Andre Hollins have done more than share a last name through the first two games, the two have shared offensive responsibilities in the backcourt as well. Austin has been the top scorer putting in 16.5 points per game on an impressive 54.2 percent shooting. Andre has taken a very limited scoring role (5.0 ppg) but has run the point and has handed out a solid 4.0 assists per game. Joe Coleman (12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) has also been a double- figure scoring threat and a solid rebounder out of the backcourt. Up front Rodney Williams (14.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is the player to watch. What has been most impressive about the Golden Gophers' two wins has been the defense. The squad is holding teams to 28.3 percent shooting overall thus far.
Minnesota is playing top shelf defense and is a team with a backcourt filled with players that complement each other. Covington might be getting back to form, but it won't matter in this matchup.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 72 Tennessee State 58
11/15 10:35:57 ET