Monday, March 1, 2004
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State men's basketball team will be at a place not many thought the team would be prior to the start of the 2003-04 season when the Tigers play in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Tuesday night. Picked last in the OVC preseason poll of 11 teams, the Tigers will be the tourney's eighth seed. TSU will play top-seeded Austin Peay in the Dunn Center at 7:30 p.m. "We are happy to get the opportunity to play in the tournament as that was a goal at the start of the season," said TSU first-year head coach Cy Alexander. "We are unhappy that we did not take advantage of improving our position in our last two games, but you have to give the teams we were against credit for playing well." Austin Peay went through the league schedule with an unblemished record of 16-0. The Govs won a hard-fought 65-54 win over the Tigers in the only game between the schools Jan. 29 in the Gentry Center. "We know we have a major challenge in front of use, but one that we are pleased to have," said Alexander. "Austin Peay has a very well-coached and a fine team. Hopefully, we can go to Clarksville and do the things that we do well." The Tigers return to the tournament after a year's absence. The top eight teams still go to the tournament, but since TSU's last appearance as a No. 7 seed in 2002, the OVC has expanded to 11 teams with the addition of Samford and Jacksonville State. Freshman Bruce Price leads the Tigers in scoring at 17.8 ppg. Roshaun Bowens is at 16.8 ppg, and Garrett Richardson averages 11.9 ppg. The trio is expected to be joined in Tuesday's starting lineup by seniors Brandon Lockridge (4.9 ppg) and Cedric Bryson (3.0 ppg). The winner of the TSU-APSU game will advance to the OVC Final Four to be held this year at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The winner will be paired against the winner of Samford-Eastern Kentucky at 6 p.m in the first semifinal game on Friday.