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Tennessee State Preview

Tennessee State Preview

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Belmont University men's basketball returns to game action Thursday vs. Tennessee State.

The Bruins defeated Austin Peay, 71-63, Feb. 8. Sophomore Adam Kunkel (Hebron, Ky.) scored a team-high 19 points. The 6-3 guard has a team-high 23 double figure scoring games this season and ranks sixth in the OVC in scoring at 16.9 points per game. Kunkel has seen the second-biggest year-to-year scoring increase in the nation this season, increasing his scoring output by 14.6 points per game. He had a career-high 35 points in Belmont's victory at Boston College.

Sophomore Grayson Murphy (Franklin, Tenn.) has been one of the most impactful players in the OVC this season. Murphy has eight career double-doubles, including five this season. The 6-2 guard leads the nation in rebounding from the point guard position (7.7) and is second in assist-turnover ratio (3.88). Murphy also ranks top 10 nationally in total steals (62), steals per game (2.48) and total assists (155). He has multiple steals in eight of his last nine games.

Sophomore Nick Muszynski (Pickerington, Ohio) has 12 points and seven rebounds Thursday and continues to provide consistent production for the Bruins. The 6-11 center has 21 double figure scoring games this season and with 850 points is threatening to become the fastest Belmont player to 1,000 career points in the NCAA Division I era.

Graduate student Tyler Scanlon (Centreville, Va.) has recorded double figures in 14 of his last 15 games, and ranks among OVC leaders in scoring, 3-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goals per game.

Senior Michael Benkert (Greenwood, Ind.) scored a career-high 15 points at Western Kentucky and had 11 points at Tennessee Tech. One of the top perimeter defenders in the OVC, Benkert has made 29 consecutive starts for the Bruins.

Freshman Ben Sheppard (Atlanta, Ga.) had a career-high three steals vs. Murray State Feb. 6. The 6-6 guard has made 24 game appearances, including 10 points and three rebounds at Jacksonville State.

Sophomore Caleb Hollander (Nashville, Tenn.) has provided a huge lift off the bench in recent weeks. The 6-8 forward has five double figure scoring games and has poured in 84 points in 116 minutes during OVC play. Hollander had a season-high 14 points vs. Austin Peay.

The Bruins currently rank first in the Ohio Valley Conference in 11 statistical categories, including scoring offense (80.6), 3-point field goals per game (10.1) and rebounds per game (38.28). Belmont is top 25 nationally in 10 statistical categories, including first in assists per game (18.7) and fifth in assist-turnover ratio (1.51).

Former All-OVC players Ian Clark of Belmont and Robert Covington of Tennessee State played against each other before making their way to the NBA; Clark earned an NBA Championship ring with the Golden State Warriors while Covington is a member of the Houston Rockets.

2019 graduate and Cleveland Cavaliers' rookie Dylan Windler averaged 25.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game in his final three games vs. Tennessee State.

Belmont made an NCAA Division I era single-game record of 20 3-point field goals in a 84-59 victory over Tennessee State at the Curb Event Center, Feb. 24, 2018.

Tennessee State head coach Brian Collins is a 2006 Belmont graduate, playing point guard for former Belmont head coach Rick Byrd from 2002-06. Collins helped Belmont to the 2006 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship and the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Belmont head coach Casey Alexander was an assistant for Byrd, and coached Collins during his college career.

This marks the 34th meeting between Belmont and Tennessee State. The Bruins won both meetings last season.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT from the Curb Event Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. The live play-by-play of Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard on the Bruin Sports Network. In-game updates will be available via Twitter @BelmontMBB.

World-renowned and beloved entertainer Red Panda Acrobat will be performing at halftime.

Tennessee State at Belmont Game Notes

Belmont University men's basketball has earned postseason invitations 13 of the last 14 seasons, including eight berths to the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have won 17 conference championships since 2006 - third-most nationally over that span (Gonzaga, Kansas). Belmont is one of only six NCAA Division I programs outside the Power 5 to post Top 100 RPIs nine consecutive seasons (BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's (CA), San Diego State, Wichita State). Belmont is one of only nine NCAA Division I programs to win 19 or more games 14 consecutive seasons (BYU, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, San Diego State). Belmont University men's basketball boasts an NCAA-leading 17 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections since 2001 and is the only NCAA Division I program to make the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) Honor Roll every year of existence.