Previewing Tennessee State

The 3-0 top-ranked Tar Heels have one more tuneup -- Tuesday against Tennessee State -- before heading out to Las Vegas. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN3.

North Carolina (3-0) vs. Tennessee State (2-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
7:30pm -- ESPN3


"I'm proud of our guys for weathering the storm. They outplayed us in the second half but even though it got ugly for us we found a way to win." – Tennessee State head coach John Cooper following his team's win at South Carolina on Sunday


Season to Date: Tennessee State enters Tuesday's contest with a 2-2 record. The Tigers lost their first two games at St. Louis (71-37) and at Western Kentucky (52-49), but won their home opener against Fisk (81-57). Cooper earned the signature win of his three-year tenure in Nashville with a 64-63 victory at South Carolina in Las Vegas Invitational action on Sunday. The Tigers knocked down 10-of-22 3-pointers against the Gamecocks to build a 22-point second-half lead, but the home team closed the game with a 38-17 run.

Preseason Accolades: Tennessee State was picked to finish fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll. Robert Covington and Kenny Moore were named to the Preseason All-OVC team after earning second-team All-OVC honors in 2010-11.

Player to Watch: Covington was tabbed the OVC Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 19.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in three games last week. The 6-foot-9, 204-pound junior shot 55.0 percent (22-of-40) from the field, 38.5 percent (5-of-13) from 3-point range and 88.9 percent (8-of-9) from the free throw line. For the season, Covington is averaging 16.5 points per game on 52 percent shooting while pulling down 8.3 rebounds per outing.

Plenty of Experience: Cooper's squad returned all five starters from last season's 14-16 (10-8 OVC) team. Moore led the team with 14.6 points per game in '10-11, but the 6-foot-7, 236-pound senior forward is only averaging 8.0 points per game this season on 37.5 percent shooting. The Tigers brought back 86.4 percent of their scoring, 86.3 percent of their rebounding and 84.8 percent of their minutes.

Legit Size in the Frontcourt: It's rare for a non-power conference opponent to roll out enough height and weight to contend with North Carolina's length, but the Tigers have more size in the frontcourt than most teams in the country. M.J. Rhett (6-8, 232) joins Covington and Moore to give Tennessee State an average frontcourt measurement of 6-foot-8 and 224 pounds.

Transferring In: Sophomore center Munira Bawa, junior forward Kellen Thornton and junior guard Jordan Cyphers are playing in their first seasons at Tennessee State after transferring from Division I programs prior to the start of the 2010-11 season. Bawa signed with Indiana as a three-star center out of Durham's Mt. Zion Christian Academy. Cyphers averaged 3.1 points per game in two seasons at Utah. Thornton played his previous college ball at Illinois State.

Carolina Connection: TSU assistant coach Rick Duckett graduated from UNC with his B.A. and MAT and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant alongside Roy Williams in 1979. The Winston-Salem native has served as the head coach at three different institutions – Fayetteville State, Winston-Salem State and Grambling State. Cooper was an assistant on Duckett's staff at Fayetteville State from '93-'95.

Random Fact of the Day: Tennessee State is 4-13 in November over the past three seasons.

Series History: Tuesday marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

Projected Starters:
2 Patrick Miller (6-0, 189, So.) Ð 7.0 ppg, 4.0 apg
10 Will Peters (6-1, 175, Sr.) Ð 6.3 ppg, 2.3 spg
33 Robert Covington (6-9, 204, Jr.) Ð 16.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg
31 Kenny Moore (6-7, 236, Sr.) Ð 8.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg
34 M.J. Rhett (6-8, 232, Fr.) Ð 1.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg

Top Reserves:
45 Jordan Cyphers (6-4, 179, Jr.) - 6.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg 21 Kellen Thornton (6-7, 243, Jr.) Ð 6.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg
3 Kharon Butcher (6-2, 173, Fr.) - 2.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg
44 Michael Green (6-9, 192, So.) Ð 2.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg

Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Enrollment: 9,165
Conference: Ohio Valley
Nickname: Tigers
Colors: Royal Blue & White
Head Coach: John Cooper (3rd season)
2010-11 Record: 14-16 (10-8)

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