Hamilton Makes a Splash in TSU win
Tennessee State (15-10, 6-6) destroyed Tennessee Tech’s attempt to construct their first winning streak since early January.
Heartened by a second-half surge, the Golden Eagles (10-17, 6-6) sustained a painful 72-59 home loss dropping them back to 6-6 in OVC play.
Tennessee State forward Ken’Darrius Hamilton displayed much more active defense. Hamilton set a career high with 21 points and finished with 10 rebounds. Perhaps because he suffered a loss in playing time in January, or maybe because he hit his jumper early, either way Hamilton excelled as an two-way threat Thursday night.
“We pretty much just moved the ball, keeping the ball moving,” said Hamilton. “I was the one that luckily had the open shot and I started out hitting them.”
TSU point guard Armani Chaney owned the first half.
“I was really just trying to be aggressive for my teammates,” said Chaney. “Really trying to get everybody involved. It wasn’t nothing spectacular or anything like that. I was just trying to play my game.”
He found a drifting KenDarius Hamilton multiple times after the big wonderfully floated to the arc following his pick’n’pop.
“He is hard to keep in front,” said TSU Head Coach Dana Ford. “He is executing his role to perfection. He has always been a true point guard…hasn’t always gotten an opportunity to play. He has an opportunity now and he has really taken advantage of it.”
Chaney tied a career high (5 assists). Also, Chaney scored 10 points with two rebounds, one rebound, and a steal.
“With Tahjere McCall being out Armani stepped up,” said Hamilton. “He did his job. He has a big role right now. And I feel like he is going to continue to do well at that spot.”
Hamilton gave eight points to the Tigers early. Combined with Chaney, Hamilton and the Tigers roared out to a 22-9 lead in the first six minutes of play.
“But our coaching staff has challenged our guys down the stretch,” said TSU Head Coach Ford. “It is an urgent time for us. I am sure it is an urgent time for a lot of teams, but it is really an urgent time when you have lost four games by one possession and you have a total of six conference losses with two weeks to go.”
The Tigers climbed back into a two-way tie for fourth place in the OVC East. Morehead State (second place) is two full games ahead. TTU at 6-6 and Jacksonville State (7-4) are both within reach too. Ideally TSU would hope to avoid an opening night OVC Tournament game (5-8 seeds). This would require a magical stretch in the final four games, which includes road games at Jacksonville State and Belmont.
Tahjere McCall Update
Tahjere McCall missed his second full game of the season. When will we see him again?
“Oh, I’m not sure,” said Coach Ford. “I don’t know. He sprained his knee. We are not going to bring him back until he is 110%.”