The Tougaloo men’s basketball team has been one of the best-kept secrets this season.
The Bulldogs are currently a serious contender for the NAIA national championship in what has been a continuation of a now two-year run of excellence.
Tougaloo is currently on a 13-game win streak, holding a 25-1 overall record and a perfect 13-0 record against the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. This includes a 76-70 upset win over the SIAC’s Lemoyne-Owen Magicians.
Tougaloo is in a three-way tie for the best record in all of the NAIA, too. With one game remaining in the regular season, the Bulldogs have already clinched the GCAC regular season title and look primed to repeat as tournament champions.
Leading the charge for Tougaloo is first-year head coach Eric Strothers, who is no stranger to coaching at the HBCU level. Before becoming the team’s head coach, he served as an assistant coach under Thomas Billups.
Strothers’ previous stops also include Mississippi Valley State where he coached for four seasons and his alma mater Jackson State as an assistant coach for 20 years.
One standout player for the Bulldogs has been guard Cameron Copeland, who is in his second season with the team after transferring from the University of Montevallo.
Copeland is averaging 14.3 points, 5.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 26 games. He has scored in double figures in all but four games.
Another player that has been outstanding for them is freshman forward Antonio Patterson, who is showing he has what it takes to be the future of the program.
Patterson is putting up 11 points per game on an efficient 65% shooting from the field to go along with 6.6 rebounds. He is one of the top offensive rebounders in the country with 69 total this season.
Tougaloo will cap off their regular season on Friday when they travel to Rust College. The Bulldogs will then turn their attention to the GCAC men’s basketball tournament set to begin on February 23 in Jackson, Mississippi.
Provided they win their second straight GCAC championship, the next step for Tougaloo would be winning a game in the NAIA tournament — something they have not done since 2011.
“The number one goal from the beginning was a national championship,” Strothers told WLBT in Jackson. “We want a national championship for Tougaloo College, that’s what we’re striving for.”