Wednesday, January 1, 2003
NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State makes the welcome return home to the Gentry Center and will be looking to get the Ohio Valley Conference schedule off to a good start against one of the teams expected to challenge for the league title in Morehead State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Thursday night (Jan. 2). The Tigers gave a competitive performance at 20th ranked Kentucky Monday night, leading much of the first half, before Kentucky stormed back, thanks, to a 68-point second half for a 115-87 victory. TSU played at Big 10 Conference member Ohio State and acting head coach Hosea Lewis hopes the experience will benefit his team heading into the conference opener. ?We are taking one day at a time and I am happy with our effort,? said Lewis. ?Morehead State has a fine team and we want to get our conference schedule off to a good start and play well.? The Tigers will be playing at home for the first time since Dec. 2 a stretch which has seen the travel to Atlanta, El Paso, Columbus, Ohio and Lexington, Ky since last playing in the Gentry Center. TSU senior Josh Cooperwood turned in an outstanding individual performance in the Kentucky game and in front of the more than 22,000 in attendance. Cooperwood scored a game-high 32 points, making 13-17 field goals, including 4-6 from 3-point range. Junior guard Garrett Richardson tallied 18 points at Kentucky. Roshaun Bowens continues to lead the team in scoring at 15.7 ppg. Cooperwood is now at 15.4 ppg, Richardson at 11.7, and Brandon Lockridge averages 10.7 to round out the Tigers' double figure scorers. Richardson had four steals in both Ohio State and Kentucky games and is averaging 2.5 for the season. He is also the team lead in assists, averaging 4.3 a game. Morehead State was picked third in the OVC preseason poll behind Murray State (2002 tournament champion) and Tennessee Tech (2002 regular season champion). Much of the Eagles' attack pins on the play of junior Ricky Minard. The 6-4 Minard is averaging 23.0 ppg and 6.3 rpg coming into his third game at the Gentry Center. Morehead State is the top scoring team in the latest OVC statistics, averaging 82.4 points a game. The Eagles defeated Marshall 101-100 in overtime on Dec. 17 behind Minard's 35 points. Morehead State dropped a 98-89 overtime decision to IUPUI Saturday with Minard scoring 27 points in a losing effort. Morehead State brings a 4-5 record into the conference opener. Following the game against Morehead State, the Tigers will host Eastern Kentucky Saturday night as the brief two-game OVC opening homestand concludes. The EKU game will be a part of a double with the women's team as the Lady Tigers host EKU at 5:30 p.m. ###