By Ron Wynn
The Tennessee State Tigers got big wins on and off the basketball court this week. They survived blowing a 10-point lead with two minutes remaining to edge Lipscomb 79-78 Tuesday Night at Gentry Center, then Wednesday announced the signing of two premier players for next year’s basketball squad. The win improved their record to 2-1 for the young season, and was their second straight home victory.
Michael Littlejohn, one of only three seniors on this year’s team, had a career-high 23 points, but it was his final two that provided the margin of victory. Littlejohn drove the court, stopped in the paint, and scored with the clock reading 0.1 seconds. Prior to that Lipscomb had surged over the final two minutes to erase a 10-point deficit and take a one-point lead at 78-77 with seven seconds remaining. The Littlejohn basket averted a very tough loss for the Tigers, as they dominated much of the second half after trailing 44-40 at halftime. Jy’lan Washington, who contributed 13 points, led the Tigers in rebounding with 13. Wesley Harris had 13 points, while Mark Freeman had six assists. The Tigers outrebounded Lipscomb 38-22. KJ Johnson led Lipscomb with 16 points, 14 in the second half.
At a Wednesday press conference, TSU head coach Brian Collins announced the signings of Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. and Yusuf Mohammed. Fitzgerald is ranked the state’s top point guard, and led Brentwood Academy to the state championships last year with a 17.6 average, as well as four rebounds and 2.7 assists a game. He’s also the grandson of Maurice Fitzgerald, a Hall of Famer, Hillsboro High School’s current  coach, and a TSU alum. Seattle’s Yusuf Mohamed helped lead junior college North Idaho to a 31-2 mark as a freshman. He shot 46 percent from three-point territory. Coach Collins had high praise for both players.
“I am extremely excited to add Marcus Fitzgerald, Jr. to our 2020 class,” Collins said. “He is exactly the type of student-athlete I envisioned to sign when I received the job here at Tennessee State. He is a winner, a thinker and a high-character person. His parents have done an unbelievable job raising him and he comes from great stock. His grandfather is an alumni and Hall of fame coach right here in Nashville. Marcus will help lead this program to new heights, and we are looking forward to him helping continue TSU’s rich basketball history.”
“The addition of 6-10 forward, Yusuf Mohamed, will be a game-changer for the Tennessee State Tigers 2020 recruiting class,” Collins continued. “He is long, athletic and has a great shooting touch. His ability to change shots on defense and guard multiple positions will be highly needed on next year’s roster. We want to continue to get high-character young men and Yusuf fits the bill.”
The Tigers next game will be the battle of Jefferson Street Monday night, the annual clash with Fisk at the Gentry Center.