By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Colonels (23-7, 12-3 OVC) head into today’s game with Tennessee State (16-13, 10-5 OVC) knowing when they play in the OVC Tournament next week in Nashville, but not yet who the opponent will be.
EKU clinched the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye in the tournament and will play Thursday, March 7 at 9 p.m. against the winner of a first-round game between SEMO and the No. 7 seed, which will be determined today.
Even though EKU’s tourney spot is determined already doesn’t mean today’s game is meaningless.
If the Colonels beat the Tigers and Jacksonville State can upset Belmont, the Colonels earn a share of the OVC regular-season championship, so a lot is on the line when TSU and EKU meet at 8:30 p.m. in Nashville.
The Colonels earned their chance at a co-conference championship with a big 69-54 road win over Tennessee Tech on Thursday.
The win over the Golden Eagles set a new school record for wins in a single season for the Colonels, besting the previous high of 22 wins by the 2004-05 Colonels.
Two members of the Colonels staff, assistant coach Austin Newton and director of operations Ryan Wiersma were members of the 2004-05 team that held the record.
Thursday’s win was the sixth-straight conference win for the Colonels, their longest since a seven-game streak in 2007.
Tennessee State is coming off a 101-100 loss to Morehead State on Thursday and has lost two straight and three of its last five games. One of the two wins was an 80-69 win over Belmont, the top team in the OVC.
The Tigers are led by Robert Covington, who is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds. Patrick Miller is averaging 14 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Tigers, while Kellen Thornton averages 15 points and eight rebounds and Jordan Cyphers comes in averaging 12 points.
The Colonels lead the all-time series 28-24, but are 11-13 in games played in Nashville.
Lady Colonels look to bounce back
The Lady Colonels, (17-9, 11-4 OVC,) will be looking for redemption after Thursday’s disappointing loss to Tennessee Tech when they tangle with Tennessee State today at 5:30 p.m. in Nashville.
The loss dropped EKU into a first-place tie with TTU atop the OVC East Division and the Lady Colonels need a win today over the Lady Tigers to cement their seeding in next week’s OVC Tournament in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
The Lady Colonels will need a much better performance today against the Lady Tigers than they had Thursday in Cookeville when they shot a season low 25.5 percent from the field and hit only four three pointers.
The EKU defense didn’t fare much better, allowing TTU to shoot 42.3 percent from the field and giving up eight three pointers to the Lady Eagles.
There were two bright spots from the game though.
Senior Alex Jones pulled down the 1,000 rebound of her career in the first half of the loss, making her one of only two Lady Colonels to ever record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in their career.
Senior Brittany Coles became the 22nd Lady Colonel to score at least 1,000 career points when she hit a short jump shot with 11:33 remaining in the game.
The Lady Colonels downed the Tennessee State 62-54 earlier in the season in McBrayer Arena.
In that game, Marie Carpenter and Jade Barber had big nights. Carpenter scored 19 points, while Barber added 15.
The Lady Colonels held TSU to 31.6 percent shooting from the field and only 25 percent from behind the three-point line, and outrebounded the Lady Tigers 48-38.