Categorized | MTSU Basketball

Raiders beat Lumberjacks 65-53

Posted on 26 November 2014 by Allen


Middle Tennessee remains unbeaten in the Emerald Coast Classic with a 65-53 victory over Northern Arizona Tuesday night at Murphy Center. With the win the Blue Raiders improve to 3-1 overall on the young season.

The Blue Raiders shot a season-high 45 percent from the field and got plenty of contribution with five players netting at least eight points. Perrin Buford was efficient while leading the offensive attack, scoring a career-high 16 points in 21 minutes. Reggie Upshaw Jr. scored eight second-half points to reach double figures as he recorded his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Marcus Tarrance and Jacquez Rozier each tallied 10 points, while Edward Simpson went 3-of-5 from deep for nine points in his second-consecutive start.

The Blue Raiders drained a season-high seven three-pointers, but really flexed their muscles by outscoring the Lumberjacks 34-24 in the paint. MT also committed a season-low eight turnovers to control the game.

Middle Tennessee started off hot, sinking four of its first six shots from the field.

Simpson gave the Blue Raiders their first lead 7-4 after sinking a three-pointer at the 16:53 mark. Shortly after, a Darnell Harris jumper went through to give MT its largest lead of the half at the first media timeout.

The rest of the first half went back and forth as each team shot 44 percent from the field, while neither led by more than five. Northern Arizona grabbed the lead on a pair of free throws with 6:42 on the clock and held on until another Simpson trey evened the score at 26 just before the halftime buzzer sounded.

MT wasted no time by reclaiming the lead on a 7-2 spurt to begin the second half, capped by a Buford dunk off a fast-break dish from Upshaw. The slam put the home team ahead 33-28 with 15 minutes left. However, the Lumberjacks kept responding whenever it seemed like the Blue Raiders were pulling away.

Ultimately, Buford gave the Blue Raiders the lead for good after completing an old-fashioned three-point play at the 10 minute mark. Then, Upshaw provided the dagger with his first three-pointer of the season with just under three minutes left in regulation.

“Northern Arizona is battle tested on the road,” Head Coach Kermit Davis said. “They responded well from Ole Miss. I thought Reggie really turned the second half around. We made some timely threes at the end. They’ll be a tough team in the NCAA tourney.”

The Blue Raiders eventually outscored the Lumberjacks 39-27 over the final 20 minutes.

Northern Arizona (1-4) had three players reach double figures, including Kris Yanku (15 points), Aaseem Dixon (11 points) and Jaleni Neely (10 points).

Middle Tennessee continues play in the Emerald Coast Classic when it travels to Niceville, Florida for a matchup against Cincinnati on Friday. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m. as the Bearcats come off a 59-50 win over N.C. Central on Tuesday night.

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